My father-in-law is 81. He worked in computers from the early fifties from when computers were the size of buildings and required lots of cooling equipment to remove all the heat. He was a math genius. He could fly a plane. He had an Indian motorcycle before he married my mother-in-law. He sold the motorcycle to get the money to buy her an engagement ring. His family lived in California. I was told that the family was a family of professional gamblers. He was one of eight kids.
It was about 45 years ago or more that he cut his family of origin off. My mother-in-law was in agreement with the decision not to have anything to do with them. She is such a sweet person in so many ways. She has friends forever going back to her high school class. She stays in touch with people. She is creative and funny and outgoing and talkative and nothing if not friendly. Yet she was in agreement that her husband never have anything to do with his family again. Everyone. Brothers, sisters, mother, father.
He didn't go to anyone's funeral or wedding. He didn't write to them or hear from them. My husband is his only son. My husband had met some of those relatives when he was a kid. He doesn't have bad memories of them although the memories that he does have are odd. Like the one where he remembers the uncle who would eat the entire wrapper off a candy bar. Or that one of them lived in a house with a dirt floor.
It seemed that the relatives were always asking them for money and the relatives were gamblers. Since my own father was an addicted gambler and I know what gamblers do with money, then I can imagine that the demands for money might have been endless.
My father-in-law has worked hard in his life to get somewhere, to educate himself, to be somebody who made a difference, to develop his talents. He has worked hard. When he was a young man with a family, it must have been infuriating to be expected to finance a gambling family in California.
He has never spoken of this estrangement with me. I only know the little bit that my mother-in-law has told me. My father-in-law has gone out of his way to help other people that he knows. He is a quiet reserved man who is now suffering from a dementia. There will be no reconciliation with any of his family. My husband no longer knows who his uncles, aunts, and cousins were although sometimes we are curious to whom he is related and what happened to those people from whom his father is estranged.
Then there is the estrangement in my son-in-law's family. I know less about this one. All I know is that his biological father cut himself off years ago from all of his children from his marriage to my son-in-law's mother. I don't know how someone can do this to young kids but I know it happens all the time. I don't know anything more about this estrangement. It is possible that someone may have been reconciled in the years since I first heard about it.