My aunts are just the best. THE BEST.
So, my two greek aunts insisted that I come spend Easter with them next weekend. Easter is a big deal for Greeks - they roast lamb, all the family gets together - it's the biggest family holiday for them. The caveat is, out of the blue a few weeks ago, my father decided to come stay with one of my aunts and because it's a family event, he's going to be there.
It's a long story, but he abandoned my Mom and brothers when I was a baby. He pops up intermittently every so often but he's basically been completely absent from my life - he just never tried. The last time I saw him was at one of my cousins weddings 10 years ago.
I don't really like seeing him because he doesn't get why none of his kids don't want to see him. He doesn't understand why we wouldn't want to hang out and chat. He's clearly mentally ill, but untreated because he doesn't think he has a problem, and with what, I don't know. He has a happy, go lucky personality that's devoid of any empathy. It's hard to explain - and at this point he's basically just an old man who's only possessions he can fit in a suitcase.
My two aunts have always run interference between him and us kids. They are FUCKING AWESOME. They are the poster women of how people should act in these situations. This is how one of them summed it up "You're father is my brother, so I have to deal with him in my own life, but you - you can choose when you want to see him and if you come over, he will never be here unless you want. I will never give him your phone number or address, and if he shows up when you're here, I'll kick him out."
So in this instance, she called me and said "He's going to be there, so you don't have to come if you don't want to. But we really really want you there, so before Sunday, I'm going to tell him : you don't talk to Tractor_Gal, you don't tell anyone she's your daughter - you talk to other people and if you do anything to make her uncomfortable, we'll make you leave." It's co-signed by all my cousins and aunts and uncles.
You might be wondering why he would be invited in the first place, or why she lets him stay with her, but they (my aunts, etc) still feel some need to try to include him and take care of him, because he's so fucked up and it's Easter. And because they've always been so great about setting the boundaries between us kids and him, and keeping their word about keeping our contact info away from him and telling him to leave if it's a small gathering where he's uninvited (it's happened - there was so much yelling in Greek), that's it's really ok for me that he'll be there.
It's amazing what you can stand when you know people have your back.