Saturday, January 31, 2009

Progress report: No progress.

It's been more than a year since my parents announced to me that they're splitting up, but the process is nowhere near being finished.  This will come as no surprise to anyone who's been through a divorce.  However, one would expect that by now my step-dad would have all his personal stuff moved out of my mom's house.  Clothes, papers, and the like.  

Those of you who were reading over the summer got to hear about my adventures with Ken and my mom as we worked together to pack some of my step-dad's stuff into boxes.  Or more accurately: Ken did most of the work, while I concentrated on distracting my mom, because she couldn't be witness to the process without getting emotionally triggered by every piece of his crap that came to light on its way into the boxes.

We cleared out the whole 2nd floor and half of the first floor by Hallowe'en.  It took a long time because Ken could only be in the house for 2 hours at a time, even with allergy medication, because he's allergic to cats.   Even though we worked on it every Sunday, progress was painfully slow.

Why, you might ask, were we packing for my step-dad?  Why wasn't he doing it himself?  Because if he doesn't want to do something, he doesn't do it.  Full stop, end of story.  He's good at two things: making money, and playing golf.  And if you have enough money that you're willing to throw at your problems, you can usually find someone to do the dirty work for you.  Lucky for him that he has cash to spare.

It kind of makes sense that he wants other people to do everything for him.  Outside of his line of work, his incompetence is frightening.  Even when he is motivated to do something, he screws it up in ways that defy imagining.  Sometimes he seems to verge on "idiot savant" territory.  Yes, it's that bad.

My mom is sick to death of my step-dad's habit of sloughing off responsibility.  For 27 years she did all the dirty work in the house, organized his life for him, and picked through the recycling bin every week to pull out the imortant mail he invariably threw in there due to sheer carelessness.

She decided that he should take some responsibility for shipping his crap to California.  When he was in town this past week she told him he should arrange for a courier to come by and pick up the boxes.  Not only that, but she was washing her hands of the whole problem.  It was his job to do everything, including sit around and wait for the courier to do the pickup.

When I heard that she was putting this all on him, I cringed inwardly.  I knew exactly what would happen.  And lo, it came to pass, just as I had predicted.

When the courier arrived, the boxes had not been brought up from the basement into the front hall.  Not only that, but none of them was labelled with an address, and several of them weren't even sealed.  He thought that all he had to do was make one phone call, and the courier would spirit all the boxes out of the basement, directly to California, without him lifting a finger.

My mom was there and told me what happened at the pick-up.  The driver got angry and said that he was on a schedule; he didn't have time to wait for my step-dad to prepare the boxes. My step-dad insisted that he could do it all quick-quick if the guy would just wait a minute.  Then he shoved a marker into my mom's hand and told her that she'd better go downstairs and start labelling boxes. Nice tactic, eh?  He's still sloughing stuff off onto her.

Meanwhile, the courier was standing with the front door open, and one of my mom's Never-Allowed-Outside cats escaped.  So of course my mom freaked out and went chasing after the cat in the snow.  The courier threw up his hands in disgust and left.  The boxes are still in the basement, innocent of all plans regarding their removal.

Even hearing my mom tell the story makes my stomach churn.  It's too much of a reminder of what it was like to live in the house with the two of them for 15 years.  Every simple thing became a fiasco.  The two of them always at odds with each other.  She was always pushing for him to do things which he would simply not do.  Her disappointment and anger were constant.  His lack of caring was equally consistent.

I'm having flashbacks to the misery of my childhood.   And the kicker is, the only way I'm going to get any closure on this situation is to go back and take care of things myself.  She won't do it on principle, and he won't do it because he doesn't want to.  So I'll end up doing it.  When that whole house is packed up and clean, maybe I'll get some peace.


Sabrae Carter said...

I dont' mean to sound out of line but I totally agree with your mom! I wouldn't do it for him nor would I let anyone do it for him either! But your mom is a LOT nicer than I would be! My husband and I split up 2 years ago in april and we he went to move his stuff out he wanted me to pack it! I threw it out of the upstairs window and called and told him it was packed come and get it! :) See if I was your mom it would be sitting on the curb!

Karen said...

I agree with Sabrae. I'd throw his crap out. Your mom is not a storage center. If Dad doesn't want to do it, I guess he doesn't want his stuff that bad.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

LOL... I guess so far we all agree that we would be meaner than your mom. I would trash it or put it in one of those storage places in his name and give him the key. He can either pay for storage after that or lose it or move it. Or a bonfire! OMG I love a good bonfire!!!!

unsigned said...


Keera Ann Fox said...

Y'know, when you put it like that, Spark, it sounds like your mom should be happy for the divorce, and maybe now she is.

Sadly, you aren't the only child of divorced parents who has to be the go-between, etc. And it really isn't your responsibility.

I'm with the others: Throw it out. Literally. Ron offers a good strategy. Or you could ask an organization like Goodwill if they'll take it all, unseen.

Did your mom find the cat?

Claire said...

I'm with Ron on this. Poor you, sweetie, what a nasty situation!


Nicole said...

Hugs :(!!!
And once more strong nerves!

I'm more like Sabrae, but from what I read so far, I know that your Mom isn't.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

From this post alone, it seems to me they are better off without one another, given it takes such effort to get even the simplest of things accomplished peacefully. Though, I know you're still processing it, so that comment might come off as harsh.

And secondly, in some ways, aren't you enabling their continued behavior by doing the dirty work for them? I mean, you mom has options - either do your step-dad's dirty work, ignore it and leave his boxes in her basement, or give him an ultimatum and if he doesn't follow through, put his boxes out on the curb. Right? Though, I do know how in some ways, it's just easier to do it for them and wipe your hands clean of the whole situation.

LL Cool Joe said...

Yeah I think I'd just get all the boxes and dump them too.

It's so sad when relationships end up like this and even sadder when other innocent people get dragged into it all too.

Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

I hope your mother got her cat back too.

Sparkling Red said...

Sabrae: The thing is that my mom is very attached to the idea of treating my step-dad's stuff right. Maybe she identifies with it, because for a long time she was his "stuff". So she would never just throw it out the window.

Karen: I can't quite figure out what my mom wants. She says she wants it all out, but his spare pair of shoes was STILL by the front door last time I was there. I would've at least thrown those in a box or closet or something.

Ron: She does have a fireplace. Maybe she could burn her way through all his junk. Books and clothes would burn up really nice.

Keera: Events like this definitely remind her why she's better off without him. Yes, she did find the cat, thank goodness.

Claire: So, you're rooting for the bonfire? And here I had you pegged as a pacifist. ;-)

Nicole: Thanks. No my mom isn't nearly as straightforward as that. She gets caught up in a web of "shoulds" and "what would the neighbours think". Actually, they'd probably think it was pretty cool!

Nilsa: It's absolutely true: they are better off without each other. Also, I spent all weekend thinking about why I insist upon involving myself in this struggle. I can't detach myself from it, no matter how I try. But maybe I shouldn't be so quick to jump in and commit myself to being in the middle even more.

LL Cool Joe: The cat did come back. It was very cold out, and the cat is a big, shivery wimp. He's probably the only one to get something positive out of that day. He's always happy to escape for some outdoor adventuring.

Kate said...

I'm all about throwing shit on the lawn. Or calling someone to just take it all to goodwill. Enough is enough.

jameil1922 said...

i'm glad your mom is taking a stand. i'm not glad you're the one who will end up picking up the slack.

Aurora said...

First things first: I'm really glad to hear the cat came back.
Second, your stepdad's conduct is no surprise. It IS surprising that there are people in this world who don't understand the whole, 'relationship over, goodbye your stuff' thing.
If it is just a matter of money, though, I'm sure he could find someone to do it, and pay them handsomely for their time. Some student perhaps. Could you suggest this to him? Would he pay YOU?