"they don't shun me and likely wouldn't even if I were disfellowshipped, it's not in their character."- I hope that is true but I can't say I haven't heard that before only to have that dashed later and the person becomes one of the shunned.
It is always possible and I would never rule it out from happening, but they've had 12 years to shun me and are yet to do so. And they know me, they know how important impressions are to me; if they were to shun me they would lose me forever, it would be a 'bad witness' on their part, they wouldn't risk that.
They'll keep talking to me because that's the only way they'll ever get me to return. It won't work, but for me it doesn't matter, they think my eternal life hinges on me returning, and I know that we are all headed for the grave in the end, regardless of where we throw our spiritual hats.
If my conscience allows then perhaps when my parents are on their deathbeds, I may feign a re-conversion, just so they can pass away happy; a little white lie so that they can bow it out with some inner peace. I know this is of questionable ethicality, and if it feels wrong at the time then I won't do it. I could always just pull out the 'Jehovah can read hearts' line.
Each is responsible for his own path.
That's the crux of it. Each family is different, and for some families it may make more sense to go, although there is always the risk of raised expectations and further invitations. For my family it doesn't seem to be so important, if it were important to my dad that I attend, then he would have asked by now.
I replied to the text, and this was the pertinent part, I think this was the best way to do it. I hope it was.
Thanks for the offer but I don't think I'll be able to get down there next Sunday. I appreciate the invitation though. I hope the talk goes well for dad.