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#1 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My Father in Law has some..issues. He is divorced from my DH's momma, lives alone, works and doesn't have any social life. He's a lovely man, but very...strange? I personally think he is a hoarder/has OCD but that's just me!

He isn't a present Grandfather to either children. He lives 20 minutes away, but despite our calls/pleads to come over, he simply won't. He has excuses that range from he's working to a simple "I don't know why.." and it's really frustrating for me because A: I feel bad that DH has a father that's not taking in active role in his kids and B: because my kids are missing out on their G-pa!

We have taken him out to dinner in the past, but the kids are not allowed in his house. He hoards, has at least 3 inches of dust on things that he doesn't use daily, and has black mold growing everywhere -- that's just some of what's going on.

My son/his first Grandson was born 4 months ago and he hasn't been by to see him once. We call every single weekend to invite him, and are willing to be as flexible as possible but he just won't do it. DH thinks that he has some social phobia but I think he's just CHOOSING what he wants to do. I think if he can make it to work, and the occasional family holiday he's not socially phobic but just stubborn.

The only holiday we see him is Thanksgiving -- we go to his side of the families and it's the one chance that he can see everyone. This year I have my other family [DH's mom, my own mom etc] asking to switch it up and have Thanksgiving, because they are very active in the kids lives/our lives and I am torn. A part of me wants to understands that this is the only time that DH gets to see his Dad [unless we go to him and take him out] and the other part is like, maybe we should say "you aren't going to make an active effort to see our kids? We are not going to Thanksgiving year after year and are switching it up, you are welcome to come.."

Is that wrong of me?

The thing is, his excuse for not seeing his kids/son is that "he will see them soon" and now that Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away he's milking it. I understand he may have some OCD-type issues, but again if we call and say "wanna go to dinner, we will take you out so you can see Paige" he'll go, but if we say "please come visit your Grandson, PLEASE" he won't do it. So he is picking and choosing what he will/won't do.

And I wanna choose to spend time with family that really, truly embraces us and loves us.

What would you do? And feel free to tell me if I'm being a jerk!

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#2 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 05:01 PM
 
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DH thinks that he has some social phobia but I think he's just CHOOSING what he wants to do. I think if he can make it to work, and the occasional family holiday he's not socially phobic but just stubborn.
This isn't necessarily true. I made it to work every day for 14 years, and I always make the major, obligatory family occasions (weddings, funerals, showers, new baby "open house", Christmas, etc.). I'm definitely social phobic, and those things take it out of me.

For the rest? My dad is similar, right down to probably being a hoarder. It is what it is. I long since gave up on making massive efforts to see him. I'll occasionaly visit briefly with the kids, and we invite him to certain things, which he usually (not always) declines. I'm sad my kids won't have a strong relationship with their grandpa. He's great with kids and was a wonderful dad when I was a kid. But, a relationship between him and them doesn't include me, and I can't make it happen. I don't try.

It's up to you and your dh whether you continue to see him every other Thanksgiving or not. There is no right or wrong on that one, imo.

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#3 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 05:01 PM
 
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It sounds to me like he might have some social anxiety/depression issues. As someone who has lived with that for most of my life, I can relate. Work might be a place he can tolerate. I don't know the guy personally, but it doesn't seem like he is trying to be malicious.

I know how frustrating this has to be since I go through the same stuff with my MIL. We barely see her. But then again, she IS mean.

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#4 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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What would I do? I would first of all quit calling this man and inviting him over. Stop pleading with him for something he's made it plain he isn't going to give. He doesn't want to be involved with his grandchildren and has shown you that explicitly. It's too bad, but it's his choice.

Second, I would leave the entire relationship with your FIL to your dh. If he wants to see his father, he can make arrangements to do so (and it sounds like he does sometimes?). Take no more responsibility yourself. Take yourself out of the equation. It's his father.

Third, by all means spend Thanksgiving with your family. Of course you want to be with the family that shows their love. Again, if your FIL really wanted to see your kids, he would see them during the year. He lives 20 minutes away. It would be easy. He chooses not to. If he doesn't get to see them during Thanksgiving, maybe he will come another time. Maybe not.

Bottom line: don't plan your social life around someone who doesn't care.
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#5 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 05:11 PM
 
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I don't think you can change him and it does sound like OCD/hoarding/social anxiety (my dad has all three and it's gotten worse over the years). My own dad will go to a few places, but only because he's comfortable there (work, church). If anyone tries to get him to do anything out of his norm, he acts very stubborn. It's extremely annoying, but I don't let it bother me any more (after years of a lot of anger).

I also don't think guilting them really does any good. I've tried, but it doesn't change anything. I don't think there's anything you can do about it. Perhaps your dh could have a heart-to-heart with him, but outside of that, I wouldn't waste my energy on him or the situation. Just work to strengthen the other g-parent relationships your child has and let it go.

ETA: Regarding Thanksgiving, don't give up a fun holiday with your kids' grandmas because of this man.

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#6 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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I also would quit calling to invite him places. I'd call one more time and say, "Our door is always open. When you're ready to come visit us give us a call" and that's that. And no, I wouldn't arrange my Thanksgiving schedule around him, I'd spend that major family holiday with family members who are actually interested in your lives, and see grandpa another time if he cares to.

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#7 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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What would I do? I would first of all quit calling this man and inviting him over. Stop pleading with him for something he's made it plain he isn't going to give. He doesn't want to be involved with his grandchildren and has shown you that explicitly. It's too bad, but it's his choice.

Second, I would leave the entire relationship with your FIL to your dh. If he wants to see his father, he can make arrangements to do so (and it sounds like he does sometimes?). Take no more responsibility yourself. Take yourself out of the equation. It's his father.

Third, by all means spend Thanksgiving with your family. Of course you want to be with the family that shows their love. Again, if your FIL really wanted to see your kids, he would see them during the year. He lives 20 minutes away. It would be easy. He chooses not to. If he doesn't get to see them during Thanksgiving, maybe he will come another time. Maybe not.

Bottom line: don't plan your social life around someone who doesn't care.
Absolutely to all of the above.

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#8 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 08:59 PM
 
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Social phobias & phobias in general take many forms that might seem illogical to everyone but the person suffering. To just dismiss the possibility so cavalierly seems kinda heartless. Phobias are horrible & can be debilitating.


But, if he's just not interested, you can't force a relationship. You might just have to let it go.

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#9 of 24 Old 11-01-2010, 09:24 PM
 
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I work from the view that when raising children, one should not assume or expect that grandparents, aunts and uncles, will be present, helpful or even a part of the kids' lives. I'm a fan of extended family, don't get me wrong - and it can be really helpful to have babysitting grandparents, engaged uncles, fun aunts and all that jazz - but they didn't create the baby, so I don't feel they "owe" it love and attention necessarily. I had pretty low expectations of my family's involvement with DD, and as a result I've been pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoy her and spend time with her. But if I'd gone in expecting that MIL would offer to babysit her once a week, or that Mum would want to pay for private school (as Grandma did for us), I would have been disappointed. As it is, MIL and FIL see their other grandchild more than DD - and it's FINE. And her uncle has seen her all of maybe five or six times, and is polite but distant - and I truly couldn't care less. We're raising her, and any relationships on top of that are gravy.

I don't mean to sound harsh or anything. For most families, asking a grandparent to see his grandchildren would be perfectly reasonable - heck, in most, you wouldn't have to ask! But in your particular situation, I think you'd save yourself a lot of heartbreak just by lowering your expectations. Then, hey, you get to see him once a year (or whenever), and that's more than nothing!

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#10 of 24 Old 11-02-2010, 09:17 AM
 
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Honestly, I feel kind of sorry for him. It sound like he has some serious issues. Maybe reason he doesn't make an active effort to see your kids is because he is, for whatever reason, is unable to do so. Think of it as a handicap. I would continue to spend Thanksgiving with him; it's the kind thing to do. For all you know he may spend the whole year looking forward to that one holiday and it doesn't sound like the other GPs NEED it as much. As far as keeping him involved just have your DH invite him out to dinner once a month. If he goes, he goes. If he doesn't, oh well. And try not take it so personally that he is unable to give more of himself; it's not your kids, it's him.
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#11 of 24 Old 11-02-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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Honestly, I feel kind of sorry for him. It sound like he has some serious issues. Maybe reason he doesn't make an active effort to see your kids is because he is, for whatever reason, is unable to do so. Think of it as a handicap. I would continue to spend Thanksgiving with him; it's the kind thing to do. For all you know he may spend the whole year looking forward to that one holiday and it doesn't sound like the other GPs NEED it as much. As far as keeping him involved just have your DH invite him out to dinner once a month. If he goes, he goes. If he doesn't, oh well. And try not take it so personally that he is unable to give more of himself; it's not your kids, it's him.
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Social phobias, anxiety issues can be such that doing the routine, AKA going to work, is fine. Doing the out of the ordinary is the problem. If he'll go out to dinner with dh and see the family on Thanksgiving, I would continue that. Your dh thinks his Dad has social issues but you think you know better? I'd let dh make the call on this one and not get in the way of their relationship. Maybe when the weather is nice, you guys can visit FIL outside his house for short times. The kids can ride up and down the sidewalk, blow bubbles, draw with sidewalk chalk, or whatever for 30 minutes while FIL gets to see his grandkids and dh can check up on his dad.

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#12 of 24 Old 11-02-2010, 11:21 AM
 
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I don't see the problem. It's frustrating, sure, and disappointing, definitely. But it seems like this is how he is at this point. I don't see why there's a problem with only seeing him at holidays. Or only seeing him when you invite him out to dinner. Just..... go with that. That's the relationship you have. You can't control his life or dictate what he does. If you enjoy him as a person, or if your DH values the relationship(I assume he does) than keep it going the way it is.

Your kids won't be disappointed unless you build up their expectations.
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#13 of 24 Old 11-02-2010, 01:59 PM
 
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Your kids won't be disappointed unless you build up their expectations.
This. I'm disappointed that my kids don't really have a relationship with my dad. They don't really notice as it's what they're used to.

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#14 of 24 Old 11-02-2010, 03:15 PM
 
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Here's my take:

Your FIL is mentally ill. You can't fix him. You can treat him with compassion. But that doesn't mean that you have to rearrange your lives for him. I'd be hesitant not to see him on Thanksgiving this year just because that's a tradition and the expectation has been set for this year. NEXT year is a different story.

What I would do is do what my sibs do (I live too far away for this to be an issue): One year they spend with the husband's side of the family for Thanksgiving, and the wife's side of the family for Christmas Eve. The next year they switch. That way, each side of the family gets time on the major holidays, but you're not left trying to stretch your kids between two families.

Since he only lives 20 minutes away, can your dh go over once a month for an afternoon just to see his dad?

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#15 of 24 Old 11-02-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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My Father in Law has some..issues. He is divorced from my DH's momma, lives alone, works and doesn't have any social life. He's a lovely man, but very...strange? I personally think he is a hoarder/has OCD but that's just me!

He isn't a present Grandfather to either children. He lives 20 minutes away, but despite our calls/pleads to come over, he simply won't. He has excuses that range from he's working to a simple "I don't know why.." and it's really frustrating for me because A: I feel bad that DH has a father that's not taking in active role in his kids and B: because my kids are missing out on their G-pa!

We have taken him out to dinner in the past, but the kids are not allowed in his house. He hoards, has at least 3 inches of dust on things that he doesn't use daily, and has black mold growing everywhere -- that's just some of what's going on.

My son/his first Grandson was born 4 months ago and he hasn't been by to see him once. We call every single weekend to invite him, and are willing to be as flexible as possible but he just won't do it. DH thinks that he has some social phobia but I think he's just CHOOSING what he wants to do. I think if he can make it to work, and the occasional family holiday he's not socially phobic but just stubborn.

The only holiday we see him is Thanksgiving -- we go to his side of the families and it's the one chance that he can see everyone. This year I have my other family [DH's mom, my own mom etc] asking to switch it up and have Thanksgiving, because they are very active in the kids lives/our lives and I am torn. A part of me wants to understands that this is the only time that DH gets to see his Dad [unless we go to him and take him out] and the other part is like, maybe we should say "you aren't going to make an active effort to see our kids? We are not going to Thanksgiving year after year and are switching it up, you are welcome to come.."

Is that wrong of me?

The thing is, his excuse for not seeing his kids/son is that "he will see them soon" and now that Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away he's milking it. I understand he may have some OCD-type issues, but again if we call and say "wanna go to dinner, we will take you out so you can see Paige" he'll go, but if we say "please come visit your Grandson, PLEASE" he won't do it. So he is picking and choosing what he will/won't do.

And I wanna choose to spend time with family that really, truly embraces us and loves us.

What would you do? And feel free to tell me if I'm being a jerk!
I do not think you are being a jerk for feeling all that you do.

I think that this is between your husband and his father. Share your heart and concerns with your husband, by all means, and. most importantly, listen to your husband's thoughts and feeling but do not push the issue.



I understand. My FIL does not have the same issues, persay, but so many times I want to just tell him what I think of his backing off from his son and grandchildren's lives.
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#16 of 24 Old 11-02-2010, 03:28 PM
 
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I completely agree with zinemama and smokering. If your FIL has mental issues that he is not attending to, it is not therefore your obligation to drive yourself nuts over your family's relationship with him. I have a different perspective on this: My maternal grandparents disappeared from my life when I was 12. My mother died, and her parents, who had previously been involved with my life suddenly disappeared. I still have no idea why they did that. They lived halfway across the country so it was quite easy for them to drop me. Whatever the reason, I don't blame my father in the least. It wasn't his job to lobby them to stay involved in my life. Sadly, both of my grandparents recently died and I felt nothing about it. What I'm trying to say is that if your FIL remains disinterested in his grandkids lives, there is nothing you can do about it, and it's his loss. Your kids aren' likely to blame you for the situation, and it's probably better to just let it go instead of spending the next couple decades trying to force a relationship between them. I know it's hard. DS's paternal GF is pretty uninvolved, and DS loves him and asks about him sometimes. Just so your kids know that their grandpa's actions have absolutely nothing to do with them or their lovability, it will be OK.

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#17 of 24 Old 11-02-2010, 11:34 PM
 
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Second, I would leave the entire relationship with your FIL to your dh. If he wants to see his father, he can make arrangements to do so (and it sounds like he does sometimes?). Take no more responsibility yourself. Take yourself out of the equation. It's his father.
.
I know Ill be the odd girl out on this one, but I totally disagree with this. I think if you want this man to be a part of your children's life, you are going to have to work at it. If you dont care, then let it be up to your DH. It seems like you do care. In my marriage, I could never just tell DH that I wasnt dealing with something because it was his family, not mine. To me, our marriage meant that his family became my family too.

As for TG, go to your family's house. You cant go to the same place every year just because your FIL doesnt come out any other time. That is not only unfair to your side of the family, its also unfair to your kids to have to do the same thing every year when there ARE people who are excited to see them.
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#18 of 24 Old 11-03-2010, 06:46 PM
 
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I know Ill be the odd girl out on this one, but I totally disagree with this. I think if you want this man to be a part of your children's life, you are going to have to work at it.
To what end? She can't force a relationship that isn't happening.

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#19 of 24 Old 11-04-2010, 02:11 PM
 
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To what end? She can't force a relationship that isn't happening.
I see your point. I wouldnt say she should do it forever, but her son is only 4 months. I think its a little early to give up and just consider him her "DH's father".

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#20 of 24 Old 11-04-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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Is there any way you can talk to your fil doctor? Let him know you think he is having mental issue.

Often times when men go to the doctor for depression or other mental illness they will describe their symptoms differently. So doctors will often miss mental illness such as depression.

You mention he is strange and has OCD and social issues. If he has ADD,ADHD, Aspergers, et it most likely is undiagnosed. Many times men are labeled jerks when there is something else going on. Many of these issues can be over lapping and goes contradictory against what they were raised as in being a "MAN".

No, I would not give up on him yet. If he is in the middle of a divorce I would give him more time.
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#21 of 24 Old 11-11-2010, 01:40 AM
 
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I can see a social phobic person going to work and major holidays. I am one. Heck I even took the bus to college everyday and shook the whole dang way.  MIL has BEGGED me over and over and over to come to her new house but it's like 45-60 minutes away and that's just not something I can do, period. She doesn't get it. I MOVED to this damn ugly town to be near her so I felt a safety net and she moved away so screw her. I feel very abandoned. As a matter of fact I also stated to dh only I will NOT be joining anyone for any holidays. Take the baby without me. I just can't do that 45 minute drive. I just can't Stay the night at someone else's home either. I am completely and utterly saddened and my anxiety is through the roof by this. I chose to live near her instead of by my mom again 45 minutes away.. and was not near her nor visited her and she died. So I feel doubly betrayed. I will probably force myself to go there for the holidays because in reality I know dh will stay home with me and his threats are mere bluffs but it's going to be a HUGE ordeal of me vomiting and sobbing the whole way (very embarrassing and I don't want baby to see). I will ONLY do it because my daughter deserves to know her family especially since mine is dead. I'm not sure how many years I will be able to put up with it though.

 

When you go out to dinner is it near his house? On his terms? He's in his own car? He has the power sotospeak? I have to be in MY car with pref NO passengers, my terms, I have to have the map googled out specifically and KNOW every turn by heart before I leave.

 

What if you offered to clean his living room.. JUST his living room.. of course make your dh have this convo not you so that you can visit. Convince him it's for his health whatever. Or just show up with some boxes and tell him you're throwing anything away you are just dusting as a father's day gift. Then you can baby proof it at the same time.

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#22 of 24 Old 11-13-2010, 04:27 AM
 
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I have read that most families take turns going  and/or hosting for Thanksgiving. I would opt for your family if you went to his family last year.Only fair. If someone wanted they could always bump TG over to another day.I have to do that at times since family can not always be home exactly on TG day.

 

I would not pressure FIL to see the grandkids.His loss.

 

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#23 of 24 Old 11-13-2010, 09:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mommariffic View Post

The only holiday we see him is Thanksgiving -- we go to his side of the families and it's the one chance that he can see everyone.

And I wanna choose to spend time with family that really, truly embraces us and loves us.

What would you do? And feel free to tell me if I'm being a jerk!


I would keep going to that TG. Provided you see your family more than just TG - if you see them regularly. ESPECIALLY if you do christmas with your family.

 

i do the same. i go a family TG ONLY because that's the ONLY time my dd gets to see ex's family. otherwise she never gets to see them. they invite us last moment. i have heard nothing of TG yet.

 

but i always keep that day open so dd gets to see her cousins and uncles.

 

i can totally understand wanting to spend time with your family. it totally makes sense. but if you get to see them at other times i would NEVER give up TG with FIL and that side of the family.

 

but that's me. once a year unfortunately is long :( two years would be TOOO long esp with growing children.
 

 

just coz gpa cant do it doesnt mean i still wont do the most i can to get them together. dd has fun when she is at TG. she chooses to say grace at the table. she shares with the table her views why she is not celebrating what tg stands for but that she enjoys her family.

 

its a two way street. even for one day her uncles and cousins watch the blossoming of my dd. i have heard my dd talk about TG to her friends. it makes me realise i have done the right thing.  


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#24 of 24 Old 11-14-2010, 12:42 PM
 
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Whether he won't see you because of mental illness or because he just can't be bothered, it's not something you can change.  He's made it clear that spending time with your son isn't a priority.  It sucks, but it is what it is.  My father can't be bothered to see our kids.  He remarried after my mom died to a woman with many kids and grandkids.  He makes no efforts to do anything with his own family, but is totally wrapped up in hers.  It used to hurt me a great deal and I used to keep inviting them over to no avail. Once I let my expectations go, I was much happier.

 

I agree that whatever relationship there is going to be should be your husband's responsibility to foster, not yours.

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