Last week I learned the true meaning of Parental Alienation and its' "trickle-down" effects. I attended a wake last Friday for Nick Mastrangelo, Sr. He was a wonderful father to his four children, devoted husband to his wife of 61 years and grandfather to seven. As expected, most all of his family was there to lend each other support during this very difficult time. Unfortunately, for Jerry, Nick's eldest son, his triplet children were not there sitting next to him. Jerry, a man who has been a caring, loving and wonderful father could not benefit from one of those rare times when nothing comforts like a child's own love and caring. After all, this is what Jerry and his father before him strived to reinforce in the minds of all the Mastrangelos...there is nothing like family. Luckily, Jerry had his ever devoted girlfriend Jennifer to lean on. Jerry had asked his ex-wife Trudianne Formica, out of respect to his mother and siblings, not to attend the wake with the triplets. It was a night to mourn his father and being that they have only seen their grandparents once in the past two years and never visited their grandfather while sick, either in the hospital or at home as he was dying, their presence would be upsetting to his mother, sisters and brother in their fragile state. In a phone conversation, Jerry asked Trudianne to abide by their wishes. She threatened that if he did not put it in writing, she would show up. When Jerry persisted, she promptly hung up on him. This certainly wasn't a time for legal maneuvers. thankfully, she had the sense to keep them away from the wake. It's important to note that up until the divorce and for some time after, the children enjoyed a healthy and loving relationship with their paternal grandparents. Now, in a single gesture, with a wave of her hand, their mother has erased away the triplet's entire paternal family most of all their loving father as well as their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Their grandfather passed away with the heartbreak of not seeing his beloved triplet grandchildren while he was alive and became the latest innocent victim of this senseless situation. Who benefits? Certainly not the children.
The next day was the funeral for Mr. Mastrangelo and the church was packed with people wanting to show their respects for this very special man and his family. The priest who said the mass suggested that anyone who was touched in any way by Mr. Mastrangelo, to come visit his home to share their memories with the family. He suggested that the grandchildren ask to hear more stories about their grandparents and parents. Unfortunately, the triplets won't be there to benefit from the insight into the life of their father and grandfather, who they should surely grow to emulate. Jerry wrote a beautiful eulogy, extolling the virtues of his wonderful father. Often choking up, it was clear he was not only mourning the loss of his father but also the loss of his three children, bringing a tear to everyone's eye. He spoke of the loving and devotion shown to his father by his two sisters, brother and himself. The triplets sat in the back of the church with their mother. Was she extending an olive branch? Was it for show? Whatever the reason their presence spoke volumes...their mother wields an enormous amount of power over their children. She can "insist" that they attend the mass for their grandfather but she refuses to encourage the children to have any semblance of a relationship with their father. It was evident from the heartfelt tears shed by two of his three children that they were not only mourning the loss of their grandfather but they were also grieving their relationship with their father. The question keeps resonating in my mind...WHY? Why is this allowed to continue? What is the rationale? Where is Dr. Richard Formica, Trudianne's husband in all this? Does he actually support the alienation? With a child of his own, doesn't he understand the importance of this paternal bond? Don't either of them understand this dragging on only makes the lawyers richer?
It's been almost a week now since services were held for Mr. Mastrangelo. My guess is that it was not an olive branch that was being extended. Not one of the triplets has called their grandmother since her husband passed away almost two weeks ago. After one short conversation with his son, who he occasionally speaks to, Jerry has called daily. His phone calls go unanswered. He also calls Trudianne and her husband Dr. Richard Formica. They don't pick up their phones. One can only guess that the children's presence was indeed for show, as it is clear the children are her puppets. Unfortunately for her, the performance was only for her benefit.
In his eulogy, Jerry noted his father's words of encouragement...'never give up'. I am certain he won't disappoint him in his fight to become a father again to his three children.
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