A devastated mother who was cut off by her adult son nine years ago has insisted she still “loves him to death”, and will keep him in her will despite not hearing from him for almost a decade.
The 68-year-old grandmother-of-five, who doesn’t wish to be named, was always very close with both her son and daughter while they were growing up, so her son’s sudden estrangement from her and her husband still hurts as much as ever.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with Starts at 60, the Sydney woman revealed her son is now in his 40s and lives with his male partner in the city. While she and her husband, 68, have always supported them, she explained her son had never believed it – and always thought his parents didn’t respect them as a couple.
It caused a rift to silently build up between them without her knowledge, eventually erupting dramatically on Christmas Day nine years ago.
The first clue that something was wrong was in October that same year when she and her husband were celebrating their wedding anniversary at their son’s home in the city. He had invited a few friends along that they’d never met before, and they felt tension from the moment they entered the room.
“Unfortunately his friends didn’t seem to like us,” she explained. “I just put it down to them having difficult relationships with their own parents. While we’ve always accepted our son’s sexuality, some of their parents didn’t. They may have just been wary of us, but I honestly don’t know.”
She eventually got upset as her son continued to avoid them throughout the party, and chose to leave early to avoid the tense atmosphere. Making contact with him a few days later, she expressed her concerns and believed they had moved on from it.
However, she said: “From that time on it was a bit strange right through to Christmas when he took off.”
The whole family had gathered together for Christmas Day and her son was invited along. From word go he made it clear he didn’t want to be there, but despite his reservations, he eventually turned up on the day.
Recalling the moment he arrived, his mother said: “I was inside playing with two of my grandkids and the toys they’d got and my daughter just ran in and said, ‘He’s gone’. I said, ‘What the hell, why’? He’d just gone. I hadn’t even had chance to see him by then. I think he must have cleared the fence and cut through the short way to the train station. We went chasing after him but he’d already gone.”
She immediately called and emailed him over the next few days, confused by the incident, but didn’t hear back until some time later.
“A couple of emails later I worked out he’d made assumptions that my husband and I were denigrating his partner. I said, ‘That is so not true’, we’d met him a few times, he was lovely,” she said. “He kept coming back with a load of rubbish about how disrespectful we were about his partner.
“My husband eventually got upset because I was upset all the time, so he sent him an email telling him to grow up and to stop being disrespectful to his mum. We didn’t hear from him again.”
While that was the last she heard from her son, she did see him once more around three years later – but it turned out to be the most heartbreaking moment yet.
Breaking down in tears, she recalled: “My husband and I were at the beach for the day and my husband had gone to get fish and chips. I remember I turned round, and as I did, a bus pulled up and our son got off.
“He was walking towards me and I was just stood there staring at him, but he just walked past and didn’t say two words. The next thing I know he’s got on a bus and gone back to where he came from. That really hurt. That hurt more than him walking out on Christmas Day.”
It’s been a painful few years ever since, made worse when her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year. He has since beaten the illness, but it was the last trigger she needed to update their wills – sparking a huge decision for both of them.
“Before we went we were arguing over whether we were going to leave our son anything,” she said. “We knew he was okay financially as his partner was well off, so my thought was, ‘Why the hell should we leave him anything’? But my husband disagreed.”
After much thought, they ended up including their son in the will. Incidentally, her husband backtracked several days later and changed his mind – agreeing with her that their son didn’t have a right to be in it – but they both settled on their decision to include him eventually.
“He’ll get the same as our daughter – we’ve always treated them equally,” she said. “We love him to death. We still do.”
Since making the decision, she’s come across other parents who have gone through a similar situation, and after asking for advice and confiding in some – she’s found there’s a very mixed response to the issue.
“It’s the ones that assume we’re bad parents that get to me,” she admitted. “People think we haven’t tried to get in touch with him. But the opposite is true.
“I’ve met so many people who are in the same boat as me though. It’s a real issue, I know the circumstances are often different and I know some kids leave due to bad circumstances, but that’s not the case for us.”
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