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Who would have imagined that the gruff old man that only days ago didn’t possess the civility to say hello on the phone to his daughter’s wife would be sitting across from her in his hotel suite having a candid conversation where he was made to face his demons; much like he’d done with Kit.
If Tina hadn’t lived it, she would have thought Melvin’s enduring repulsion of her very existence in Bette’s life had been a ten-year aberration. Where did this cordial, affable persona manifest from? His demeaning practice of referring to her as ‘Ms. Kennard’ and only allowing himself to acknowledge their relationship as a ‘friendship’ had taken a complete about face. He now called her Christina with a reverence in his tone that gave credence to their commitment as a couple and parents to his grand-daughter.
Once he humanized the woman that loved his daughter rather than looking at her through his biased mindset, he found that he not only liked her tremendously, he respected and valued her. He admitted there was no one better to take care of his baby girl; no matter the gender. It wasn’t surprising that Bette would be attracted to someone very much like Maxine in her strength of character, convictions, honesty and caring.
However, Melvin’s newfound acquaintance with the woman he’d had such distain for barely scratched the surface of her benevolence. Tina had made the ultimate familial sacrifice on principle to live her truth. After breaking all ties with her small-minded bigoted parents and siblings to be with Bette, she could not have imagined that Bette’s father would betray and deeply hurt her in the same way. Her hope was that Melvin would fill the parental void and Kit the big sister but instead he made her feel unworthy. His outright rejection of Tina as Bette’s wife was damaging enough but his disparaging their pregnancy in such a vile and revolting manner was uncalled-for. Yet she’d stuck it out and tolerated his dismissiveness for Bette’s sake, but now she held all the cards, as Benjamin would say in his theory of everything.
At the family dinner when Melvin had made his plea, Tina accepted at face value that he really wanted to change and make amends, but she wasn’t prepared to let him off the hook so easily. She refused to start a new relationship based on cordial superficiality where they co-existed in an environment of exchanged pleasantries and got along by avoiding the deep seeded issues that had plagued her and Bette’s relationship with him for a decade. She told him very plainly that If he wanted to become the grand-father that her and Bette’s daughter deserved they would tackle the toxicity head-on and face his long-standing bigotry. It was this agreement that found them meeting in his hotel suite a few days later without Bette or Kit. It was time to rip the scab off the wounds and draw out the poison to allow true healing to take place.