Do you ever go through your emails like once a year and delete a lot of them? And feel sad about some?
I did that last night. A lot were routine emails of blog comments. I keep the most meaningful ones. But some were from a friend I had to give up on in early 2011. In a practical sense, some people just change over a few years and you are not really friends anymore. But this was someone I had known since college days 40 years ago.
The break came when he wanted me to drive him to a place with A-rated plywood for his new toy train setup in the basement and carry the plywood into his basement. I have always been helpful to him and done the hard work (he says he has a "bad back" which I have reasons to doubt) watching him do things he enjoys.
But when I sat down and thought about it, I realized that he was asking me to drive my trailer 30 miles to his house, 60 miles to the wood place, 60 miles back to his house, and then 30 miles back to my house. I checked the wood at the place he liked and found it was the same as could be ordered from the local Home Depot. "A" grade is "A" grade. But he would have none of that. He likes the wood store 90 miles away from him.
I mentioned that in an email (I had to mention details in email because he just evades conversational disputes of any sort).
He responded that I was "mean and hurtful and don't contact me anymore". OK, he does this every few years. I usually reply in a way to jolly him out of his unhappiness. He HATES having his plans questioned even when all the work is being done by others.
And my initial reaction was to get him "happified" again. But you know what? This time I didn't. I unloaded the personal shotgun on him. I told him how insensitive he was, how demanding, and how unreasonable he had become over the years and had become worse. I told him that when he needed help around the house and yard, he had me. But when I needed help around the house and yard, I still only had me. He eventually replied "How do we re-engage"? Re-engage? That was "goodbye jerk" and I made that clear. And that's the last I heard from him.
But as I was going through the old emails, I found a few from him still there. I deleted them. A part of my life over. But it also felt sad doing it. The last one I deleted was where he criticized me in return. I paid great attention on to those 6 things a last tine. One was even accurate (I am not really good talking on the telephone). But that was about all he could say.
He complained that I never took him fishing in my boat the last few years. Well he was inept and useless in a boat. You know those cartoons where a person has one foot on the pier and another in the boat and the boat slowly moves away from the pier? He actually did that. And I had to to do all the work unloading and reloading the boat on the trailer every single time. He couldn't.
He tipped over our canoe once leaning way too far over the edge in uplake Canada. When I saw what he was doing I yelled and grabbed for the other side, but 225 pounds beats 160 pounds every time.
After I got the canoe righted and mostly bailed out, I got him back in on one side while I held the other. I then spent an hour going down to feel around for our gear and retrieving what I could. He couldn't because he "couldn't swim well". The water was shallow enough for him (at 6' 4") to stand in). He wouldn't. He didn't have to swim, because *I* could.
And along that line, we had to canoe back 10 miles on the open lake on the last day of our vacation to the camping station when a storm came up. He had no idea what to do. I did. I was in the back of the canoe (of course) and drove the canoe quartering the waves to the lee side of the lake. We hit shore and waited for the storm to pass.
He complained that I wasn't a very "neat" person. OK, My floors weren't fit of to eat from. He used to clean his baseboards once a week and his floors daily. Well, yeah, I'm not like that. I'm pretty sure you can't eat off my floors safely.
He was also angry that my family doesn't have big funeral ceremonies. Never mind that that was none of his business, we just don't do that. The family habit is cremation and no ceremony. You were alive, you are dead, nice to have known you, good life and all of that. My own expectations are the same. Distribute my ashes around the yard, raise a glass of wine in my memory, and history goes on. Glad I was part of it.
And finally, he repeated again that I was "mean". By that, he meant I was honest. I told him what I thought for 40 years, I explained what I meant, and I gave reasons. That was too straightforward and he never liked it, I guess, and I suppose it wore him out over all the years. He considered honesty to be "mean" in that what I said sometimes didn't make him feel good about himself.
He was a constantly annoying person. He never kept a job in one office for more than a few years because he utterly aggravated every co-worker and supervisor he encountered. But he always had a great technical resume, so he could move on. Every place he worked at was "corrupt" and "incompetent". For all I know, he was right, but he never gave much actual evidence of that. I suspect mostly that he was a real "pill" to work with.
So last night, I deleted the last of his emails and went to bed. I slept well. Sometimes, you just have to cut connections.