Ok, So I Blew It

I screwed up. Not that I don't do that fairly often, but this was a big one. Last night I was having my regularly scheduled phone conversation with my father, who is 83. (Yes - he schedules such things and one must account for being absent or unavailable at the appointed time. Groan.)

Anyway, I started the conversation by asking how his Easter was. My younger sister and her family had gone to visit him, and they had a nice time. He loves to cook and made a great dinner with both turkey and ham. (I haven't heard her report on the day yet, so I imagine I have somehow displeased her. She usually calls or writes me when she returns home to tell me how it went. Ahhh, my family can be such "fun". )

Then he asks me if I got my Easter lily. Hmmm, scratching my head, and wondering what Easter lily he's referring to... "I got your pretty Easter card and the $20 in it", I said cheerily. "We really enjoyed the Easter buffet, thank you!" (Each year my father sends cash with his Thanksgiving and Easter cards which he designates to be used toward our dinner.) "I didn't get an Easter lily though??"

"What?!" he sputtered. "You didn't use the money to buy an Easter lily?" I could sense his blood pressure rising and I was totally confused.

"What are you talking about, Dad?" I asked.

"I wrote in the card that you were to use the money to buy an Easter lily and then whatever was left over should go toward your dinner. Didn't you read the card?"

My mind drew a total blank as I struggled to remember what the card had said. I recalled the picture on the front - a purple background with a beautiful cross and lily. Surely I'd read it, what did he write?

"Go and get it and read it", he demanded. Well.... I couldn't because it was somewhere in the stack of clutter on my counter.

"I'll check it in a little while, Dad", I said. "I'm sorry if I misunderstood what you wanted."

"I think you intentionally forgot what I said to do so you could spend all the money for dinner," he accused.

Oh, Lord, here we go again. "We have enough money to eat dinner out, Dad" I said, "it's just that you always say to use it for dinner, so I guess I must have misread the card or forgot what it said."

"Well you find it and read it and let me know what it said next week when I call!" he blustered.

"Ok, I will Dad" I said, feeling very blindsided by the whole thing. He's never sent money for anything other than eating out before. The rest of our visit was shaded by his unhappiness with me, making it very clear that I had once again disappointed him. Story of my life.

As soon as I hung up I dug thru the pile on my counter for the blessed Easter card. Sure enough - in it he clearly wrote that I was to buy an Easter lily for our home, and use any remaining money for our dinner. He had instructed my two sisters to do the same, and he had placed one on the alter at church in memory of my Mom. (His church does that each Easter.) It was a really nice sentiment and I was touched. I could understand his disappointment. Both of my sisters has followed thru and I blew it. Always me, just as he has come to expect. And then I felt really bad.

No real way to undo this one, just apologize, as I did, and wait for it to blow over. I'm still wondering how I could have missed that in the card. Didn't I read it?? Surely I did. Did I just space it out? Very possible, I have at least a hundred things on my mind right now and I am so forgetful. But of course this is implausible to him, even though he is forgetful too. So I guess I'll just take the rap of doing it intentionally or whatever he wants to believe. Sometimes you can't win for trying. SIGH

If these fun little encounters serve any purpose it's to remind me NEVER, EVER to lay guilt trips on my children. The burden of trying to please parents can be immensely heavy. My kids already know how proud I am of them, how much I respect the people they've become, and how much they are loved. I don't care if they screw up now and then, we all do.


  1. I can almost laugh at that one, because I sympathize and I have been in that boat many, many times before. As you may or may not know, Asian parents are famous for "guilt trips", not that they mean anything bad by it...I guess it's just the way it is. We're trying the same with Coffee too... it also must be a generational thing. Most of our parents were that way and our generation tries to spend time "un-doing" the curse!

  2. Josie, that is sad. Isn't it weird how fathers have this really innate way of making us feel like little kids even though we are definitely adults? You are right though. All we can ever do is strive to be better parents than ours were... in every respect (past present future)

  3. You're right JY, it's so sad it's almost comical. I do feel bad about not following thru with his intent but is it an earth-shaking crisis? I'm going to hear about it for months to come. SIGH

    Thankfully, I think each generation does try a little harder to improve their parenting skills, especially when it comes to scarring the children for life! :-)

  4. That is so true, Girl. My father always talks to me as if I was 15 instead of 55. I wonder if he allowed his mother to interrogate him at that age? I don't think so! I work very hard at my relationship with my kids, I want them to stay as close as we are now, and not dread our phone calls!

  5. I can relate to this so much. My mother is queen of the guilt trips and often behaves just as your father did. I find it very stressful because my intentions are always good. I don't mean to upset my mother, it just seems to happen. I am sorry you have to go through this, Josie. It is not easy.

  6. I think he was unfair. If this was so important to him, he should have spoken to you on the phone about it before sending you the card. Better yet, he should have gotten the flowers himself in the name of his daughters. It's not fair to send someone a present and then dictate how they should use it.

  7. That's exactly how it is with me and my dad, Selma. I try hard not to do things to upset him, but it seems like I still fall short. I try to not let the guilt trips bother me too much, just do the best I can and release the rest. What upsets me most is when he misjudges my intentions.

  8. My Dad and I have struggled over that issue many times, Ingrid. Every gift he has ever given comes with strings attached, and that kinda takes the fun out of it. I really would have bought the plant to please him, it was an unitentional lapse. But I totally agree with you, a gift given may be used by the recipient in whatever fashion they like. I wish he would have called me about it ahead of time too. I think he knows now to do that next time!


Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)