On the question of innocence or not in regard to Andy, Mark and Ruth Madoff, I was never sure. But after reading the blog and watching the CBS video clip on Women on the Fence, I am satisfied (for what that’s worth that the sons are innocent.
Ruth, I’m not so sure how much she knew, if anything. She said on 60 Minutes that she’s not sure that if she had known, she would have turned him in. Separation or divorce, yes. I can understand this. I, too, in her position, don’t think I could have turned him in, yet feel I would have distanced myself from him via divorce.
Why not turned him in?
The enormity of what Bernie did, smiling in the faces of trusted colleagues, friends, my God, even close friends and family members knowing he was going to screw them, many too old to have chance to re-earn retirement. Even Ruth’s sister! It’s unfathomable, too much. If Ruth, I don’t think I’d be able to go there for longer than a moment or so for my own emotional and psychological survival.
For so many women, and I know Ruth isn’t an exception, their identity is enmeshed with their husband’s. After most of a lifetime shared together, she might not have been capable of separating who Ruth is from Bernie. I’ve experienced this with my own mother.
Is it possible that Bernie could have been so secretive that he never revealed the truth, not even a slip, to Ruth or sons? Again, I draw on my experience with my father, and perhaps some of you may have experienced marrying someone who was secretive from the get-go, with disasterous results. My father was a good man, a war hero, a crusader, a hard worker. And he had another side. It involved betrayals that he kept hidden until his last few years when, after a stroke, was neurologically unable to keep secrets any longer. That’s when I learned the full picture of just who my dad was. It was finding out that your life isn’t what you’d thought it was.
Because I relate with some of the Madoff family dynamics, I understand now how possible it is that the sons didn’t know, or couldn’t see it. From childhood, they lived with the adulation of their father, the deity-like personage of the Bernie. They idolized him, always competing for Bernie’s approval. They didn’t know fully who and what their father was, anymore than I did my dad, who I idolized for so many years.
I could be wrong, but don’t think so.
About the author
Robin Barr is a business owner, animal lover, information and resources junkie, and a fan of innovation. She's also the inventor of award-winning Cold Sores Begone™, an instant preventative, and Canker Sores Begone™, a healing accelerator. A boomer and ENFP, Robin lives in Mission Viejo, Calif.