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Ask Amy: A father’s memories don’t admit flaws

Ask Amy: A father’s memories don’t admit flaws

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Dear Amy: My father has realized his memory is failing and is using this to whitewash his questionable parenting skills.

Now I have no closure or recourse on events like his racist outburst of 2012 that led me to a very awkward Thanksgiving in a house full of people I did not know.

My dad will even see if his partner remembers an incident, and if she doesn’t remember, then it definitely didn’t happen; but she is apt to ignore it like it didn’t happen just to move off the subject.

I don’t need an apology (not that it would come), but it is just a new insult on top of an old one.

It makes me resentful when he literally says I must be wrong because:

1. Both of them don’t remember.

2. One of them doesn’t remember.

3. Both remember, but act like they don’t.

My past has been check-mated by insecure septuagenarians. There is nothing I can do, is there? Manipulated S

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Dear Manipulated: Here is something you can do: Understand — deep in your bones — that “closure” is not something another person can grant you.

In fact, the very concept of closure and the chasing of closure is something of a red herring. Closure is a distraction, keeping you from doing the work you need to do in terms of accepting reality: (“My father is a racist. But I can’t help him to change what he won’t admit.” “My father was a poor parent. Confronting him about this is useless, because he denies it.“)

Now that his memory is fading, the past will be mutable, and he will cling to his version just as you cling to yours.

If it helps you or feels good for you to continue to confront him with the truth that only you will admit to, then keep trying.

Unfortunately, confronting him seems to lead to frustration and more distress for you, and so maybe it’s time to stop.

Dear Amy: My heart broke reading the letter from “Not Meant to be a Mother,” who was grieving the loss of possibilities after having a hysterectomy.

This grief is absolutely understandable. People should never rush in with “solutions” for another person’s grief. What they need is quiet validation and understanding. Empathetic

Dear Empathetic: Absolutely. I hope this writer recovers fully.

Email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.



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