Grandfather holds the secret to his sadness
BY Ask Amy
Thursday, November 01, 2012
11/01/12 at 2:10 AM
Dear Amy: More than 50 years ago I met a girl, and we started dating. A few months later she told me she was expecting a baby, but she said the child wasn't mine. We got married and had two more children and a nice life but divorced after 15 years.
We stayed in touch until her death. All three children have also passed away over the years. The oldest son died three years ago. This son was married and had a family, but they didn't include me in many family events. These grandchildren are young adults.
His widow wants me to be a grandfather to people I really don't know and who are not actually related to me (genetically). I guess I need to keep it to myself, but I'm not their grandfather and really don't want to become one at this stage in my life. I don't want to tell them why because it will cause them pain, but this secret is a problem, emotionally, for me. I think about it every day.
How do I come clean about this and not affect his family? I have already affected them by keeping my distance, but I just don't feel like a part of them. - Struggling Grandfather
Dear Struggling: I suspect this is not really about genetics. You sound very sad and alone. This family - his widow and her children - is already hurting. Their husband/father is gone, and now you are rejecting them.
The truth could not hurt them any more, and it might hurt them less to know that you have this incredibly burdensome secret that causes you pain and confusion.
The moment you disclose this, you will discover why you needed to. The burden will be lifted, and then you can commence the discovery of what a family really is. If you want a family, you may find this one waiting for you.
Dear Amy: I can't let your response to "Heartsick" regarding her rekindled relationship with a French man stand without a challenge.
Her daughter, who said, "Follow your heart," gave better advice than your callous remarks about cheating on her husband and putting her long-lost love "in perspective."
I know your advice is wrong because I was in the same position 16 years ago. I followed my heart, and as a result I am happier than I ever thought possible. It isn't an easy road, but it is one that has transformed my life.
The only positive comment you made was to work with a counselor. - Happy in Portland
Dear Happy: "Heartsick" thought her life was happy before this rekindled relationship threw her off course. Perspective is definitely called for, and counseling - not cheating - is the best way to gain it.
Send questions via email to email@example.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.