I am a child of divorce. Of course since I was 4 when my parents divorced, I don’t remember much about their divorce or their marriage but I do remember bits and pieces of the aftermath. I remember the shuttling back and forth between homes – or rather states since my Dad lived in Texas
the larger portion of the time. I remember being 6? 7? and flying by myself to Texas to spend the Summer (or was it Christmas) with Dad. I can’t even fathom putting my 13 year old on a plane by herself.. can you imagine 6? I remember when my mom remarried and how much I liked my new stepdad and how happy he made my mom.
And then I remember when my mom and stepdad asked me if I wanted to be adopted. I didn’t know what that meant so now I remember the countless hours I spent in my 5th grade guidance counselor’s office (who in an ironic twist of fate, ended up living in my parents neighborhood years later) trying to understand what everything meant. You see, the decision had been placed in my 10 year old hands. I remember finally saying yes and then seemingly overnight, my Dad disappeared. When Dad signed those papers, he did so because he knew my stepdad could provide a life for me that he couldn’t at that time. He didn’t even tell his current wife that he had made the decision. He just went to the attorney’s office and signed the papers. I’m not sure if I missed the memo or it was just never explained to me but when my Dad signed those papers, he also signed an agreement that he would have no contact with me until I was a legal adult of 18.
I had a good relationship with Don, my “2nd” dad but always had a hole in my heart where my relationship with my biological Dad had been. Once I turned 18, we “reunited” and rebuilt our relationship but there was always that situation that hung between me and my mom and me and Don. My mom never talked about it and I was always reluctant to bring it up. It’s as though she had erased that part of her life away and it never existed. If Dad came to visit, I wouldn’t mention it.. If we visited him, I wouldn’t mention it. This worked okay while we lived in other parts of the country but became a bit trickier once we lived 30 minutes apart. “Where have you been the past 2 weeks”.. “oh, I dunno.. at the market?”
After Don passed away, she started to ask questions about my Dad. How was he (she knew he had battled colon cancer)? When was he coming to town? And so on. This was safe for her and it showed me she had softened a bit to whatever resentment she harbored.
The true test of that softening happened this past October. Every year, the Rooster and I along with our Besties host a pretty large pig pickin’ and this year, my Dad was going to be in town for it.
And so was my mom.
She was in Greece when I found out this news so I had to delay in telling her the “news” but when she came back, after all the niceties were exchanged, I told her the news. I told her that while I understood if she chose to not attend the party, it was my deepest hope that she wouldn’t. I was so excited she didn’t back out and for the first time in my conceivable memory, the three of us were together in the same place. It was an amazing moment for me and I know it was for my Dad, too. I think a little bit of it for him was closure and for her it was letting go of old, old memories and grudges. It was a little uncomfortable for them both at first but I think once they realized that the earth wasn’t going to shatter, we were able to enjoy our time together.
For me, it was my best day of 2011. Maybe even more than that.