Divorce is Ugly

August 8, 2006

This little celebrity-gossip article from CNN made me stop to think:

First there was the head-shaking revelation that Paul McCartney stands to lose 1.5 billion dollars and is sending legal notices over three bottles of Windex (or whatever they use in England).  

Then there’s the thought that Paul McCartney noticed three bottles of cleaner were missing– does he do his own cleaning?

It also made me think of the Train Incident and my divorced parents’ own unpretty relations.
My father had a nice electric train, a gift from from his father when he was a boy.  His parents were questionable in their skills– I’m sure he did not have a lot to take away from that relationship, but he did have a nice train set. I remember, a million years ago, setting it up at Christmas around the tree.  Then my parents got divorced. My dad wasn’t interested in taking too much baggage or personal items from the house when he left– that included my sister and me– so the train stayed with us.

Fast-forward a few years– Dad disappears from the planet, then reappears, then asks for his train set back. My mother, knowing full well the boxes sat in the attic, tells him she had no idea where it was, she thought she might have sold it in a garage sale.

Fast-forward even more years–25, to be exact. I am visiting my mother during Christmas with my husband and young son. She decides to get out the train for my son’s benefit. Son is suitably entertained. We take pictures.

We post pictures on my son’s website. My dad sees pictures, sees train, and curtly informs my mother that she’s been caught lying, and btw, he wants his train back so he can be the one to pass it on to my son (the only grandchild).

My mother’s first reaction is to blame us (because what’s a daughter for, if not to keep track of her mother’s decade-old deceptions), then after I refuse to take the bait, reassess and write my father an e-mail informing him that if he wants his train back, he’ll have to send an attorney.

On the one hand, I think she should just give the train back.  It needs a minor repair ($80) which she thinks is too expensive.  It’s worth hundreds of dollars and I know my dad would get it repaired. It’s been 25 years, and in the interest of doing the right thing, it’s his childhood memory, just give it back.

On the other hand, I can understand her, on a visceral level, wanting to hurt him like he hurt her, and us.  Of course, she never helped her case by trying to first blame me then trying to make me choose sides (another story).

I think if they had the money of the McCartneys, there would have been legal notices exchanged on this subject.

When you get married, you love that person more than anyone in the world. Funny how all that intimacy can lead us down some really, really dark roads.

For the offending pictures, check out http://will.asproth.com/…