You’ll have to kill me first

I met someone a long time ago and we went on a date.  I know, inconceivable, but we did.  It was just dinner and a movie but it was nice to go out.  I found out on that faux date that he didn’t have a relationship with his children.  Like, he doesn’t speak to his children.  I think that’s so interesting…and odd.  I couldn’t really grasp it because I think at the time my kids were still at least speaking to their dad.  I can’t imagine a scenario when I wouldn’t have a relationship with my children.  That’s inconceivable.

My parents divorced when I was two, and my dad moved to Colorado when I was around eight.  He’d remarried and previously had been getting us every other weekend but then I think she must have had family in Colorado so they moved.  First of all, your kids are 8 and 10 and you move 10 hours away when there’s no Facetime, texting, email, Skype or really any easy way to keep a relationship going.  Remember when you had to actually pay for long distance and write letters?  I can’t even fathom not being able to get a hold of one of my kids at a moment’s notice.  Even if…let’s say, if my mom was a nutjob and tried to keep us away, which I don’t know is the case, don’t you still stay close so you can have a relationship?  What makes you leave your kids?  And nowadays if you do it, it’s easier to stay in their lives, this was late ’70s.

My grandpa, his dad, still stayed in our lives and took us to appointments and came to all our events and really was there for us.  We would go spend the night at his house and hang out with him.  And my grandpa would fly with us to Colorado every year until he passed away in like ’85.  And my dad seemed to be just fine with that arrangement.  I can’t even imagine.

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Then when I turned 19, I moved to Colorado to live with my dad.  It lasted exactly a month when I got my own apartment. I remember the lean early years when I was spending all my money on rent and I didn’t have food.  I called him one night and asked if I could come to dinner and he said they didn’t have enough.  Not like they didn’t have enough food in their house, but they’d made a roast and my stepmom’s mom was coming and it would only feed three people.  Think on that for a minute and imagine I was much thinner so I didn’t eat a lot.

Your daughter calls you because she’s 19, living in a strange city, has an unreliable car, gets lost on the bus all the time, and she tells you she has no food and asks if she can come to dinner.  Hold on, she can’t afford a house phone so she walks down to the 7-11 to use the payphone with the calling card she’s been using from her mom.  Do you tell her you don’t have food or do you say, well, we might not have enough roast, but I can make you a sandwich?  That was really a low point in my life because it had taken all the courage I had to even call him in the first place.  However, that didn’t stop me from trying to have a relationship with him.  From wanting him to be the dad I needed him to be, and he was at some times.

I have some very specific memories of him being who I needed him to be at the time, but most of the time it was me wanting more because I was starved for it.  I hadn’t been raised with a dad like that and I needed it, I longed for a dad who wanted to be my dad.  I see shows or commercials and think, Is that how a dad’s supposed to be?  I have no idea.  I asked a friend last week if her kids still talk to their dad because I think it’s weird when they do.  But I have another friend who is an amazing single dad to his kids, so who knows why people are made so differently.

Here’s what I know, nothing in this world besides death would keep me from my children.  Nothing.  And I’m not saying we’ll live together forever, did you hear that, Tenderheart?, but I’m saying there’s nothing I can think of that would keep me from having a relationship with my kids.  Nothing that would make me leave Tenderheart on someone else’s doorstep to raise, no matter how frustrated I get with her.

I had an old neighbor who lived across the street and one day, the wife just left.  They had three kids and she’d been having an affair at work and she just packed a bag, moved in with her boyfriend, and stopped seeing her kids.  Like, see ya, suckers!  I literally can’t imagine it.  And I’m not judging, even though I am, and I get that everyone is entitled to their own lives, but once you have kids, aren’t you obligated to raise them for 18 or so years and then have a life of your own, if that life doesn’t include them?  That’s what I’m banking on.  And you might be surprised to find out, or not, that my old neighbors’ kids are so messed up now.  And it’s really sad to me because those kids were just victims.

And listen, I come from a family of grudgeholders and have been disowned exactly three times in my life, so I may be blogging in 10 years about how my kids never talk to me, but it will only be because I’m dead and it doesn’t matter how little food I have, they’re always welcome at my table.

In 1991, post-disowning.

Please feed me.

Moonshine asked what she had to do to keep me from talking to her.  I said she’d have to kill me.  Luckily she didn’t say, challenge accepted.  I told her no decision she made, no path she went down, nothing but her would keep me from having a relationship with her.  And if she decided she didn’t want to have a relationship with me when she grew up, well, too bad, she’ll have to kill me.

As I was waiting for this to post I found this on Facebook:

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Unlike my autocorrect, Facebook really gets me.

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