One of my nieces was Bat Mitzvahed in DC in the summer of 2007. My father was in poor health, but he made the extraordinary effort to fly from Florida to DC and spend the weekend celebrating one of his many granddaughters. It made a huge impression on the child and the whole family. He died 4 months later.
Fast forward to this week. My eldest son will be Bar Mitzvahed on Saturday, come hell or high water. My father will not be there. My son feels the loss acutely and was looking forward to having his surviving grandfather there. Today, my FIL calls WineGuy and says his back is hurting him, and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to make the trip, but he’s not sure, but he’s letting us know. Now. 6 days before he’s supposed to be here, after one year’s notice. My MIL “can’t budge” my FIL, probably won’t come without him, can’t drive by herself from the East Coast if she does come by herself, was unwilling to have me pick her up after I get my mother, and wanted me to come fetch her on Friday. If she comes.
WineGuy is devastated. His father is the wishy-washiest, laziest, Jewish man ever to walk the face of this Earth. FIL doesn’t ever lift a finger to help out. MIL and SIL wait on him hand and foot, like he’s some invalid. And, everyone’s fine with it. Except me. It just pisses me off. WG recaps the conversation with his father, saying “I can’t make someone do something. I can’t make him change his mind.” I was furious. I told WG I got the same crap from my mother. Then I told her, in no uncertain terms, that it is her duty as Wizard’s grandmother to be there to witness this event. She — and FIL and MIL — needs to show this boy the unique and unconditional love that comes from a grandparent. This boy needs that love now more than ever. So, I told WG, “call your parents back, and explain it like that to them.” He did, and they didn’t budge an inch. Whereupon I informed WG, “if your parents do not make the effort to be here this weekend but go to St. Louis for the High Holidays (in September) and then back for the Prodigal Son’s Bar Mitzvah in November, I will be very angry. I will not go to the Prodigal Son’s Bar Mitzvah.” WG didn’t like hearing that, but I could tell he was feeling the same way.
WG is a good son. He has done so much for his parents over the years and has asked so little in return. His two brothers are total losers, and his sister completely offended his family by marrying a non-Jew (who never converted, btw). Watching his parents crap all over him makes me so sad for him. I just want to beat their gray heads into a cinderblock wall. I can’t speak with them directly about this. It’s not my place. However, if I answer the phone next time they call to say they’re not coming, I will find a scathingly polite way to say, “You lazy, stubborn, SOB. For once in your life, put forth a little effort, push through the pain, and honor your son on the day he honors his son.”