Monday, December 24, 2012

Kirkland Home - Citrus Park

Many heartfelt thanks from Garret and I for making our Christmas a little brighter, a little cheerier, and a little more festive.  What you did for us goes beyond simple.  Thank you so very, very much!

Merry Christmas to you and your families!!  May your own seasons grow bright with joy and happiness and great cheer as you ring in the new year.

Extended Blessings,

PJ (adoc2be) and Garret

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Other Stories

Early on, my son's sleeping schedule was completely off kilter.  Asleep all day, awake all night and hungry all the time (hmmm.... some things NEVER change!!!).  My maternity leave had started early because:

1)  I was starting to have labor pains (not BH)
2)  I was grumpy
3)  I was too big to drive
4)  I was grumpy

On my last day going in to train my temp, I was in a car accident almost broadsided by a semi as I slid on the icy road out into the highway.  The car was totaled but I was safe (thank you Ford!).  At the hospital, I was told the accident would either speed up the arrival of my cargo or delay.

Sadly, for me, it delayed and I continued to get bigger.  The estimated size of my unborn son was 10#.  He arrived at 10# 12 oz, 24-1/2 inches long.  Don was there the entire time, never leaving my side (the labor and delivery lasted about 1.5 hours).  When my son was born, and in Don's excitement, he yelled, "OMGAWD!!! He's a keeper!!!"  (fish language for "we're not tossing him back).

Don went back to work that day and came to visit.  When I went back to work three weeks later, Don switched up his schedule for my son was too little for daycare.  Don and I worked opposite schedules so that he or I was home to take care of the Gman.

One day, I got home early and found him asleep on the couch with the newborn; another day, I came home with Don smiling broadly saying, "Look what I get him to do!!"  as his slowly and carefully did the 'washing machine' with the Gman on his lap.  Gman would slowly fall asleep, only waking if Don stopped.

It would be unfair and unkind if the only image anyone saw was the image of a gravely ill father and ex-fiance.  So, below, is the only picture I can find of the father in his healthier days with his young son at the other grandmother's house... 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Family Picture

It was the only one taken over the span of 20 years.  In the end, a mother, father and their son...

Don was unable to move much, the pole above his head given by hospice so he could be less reliant on others.  The morphine syringes in the coffee cup and dire reminder that his time on earth was quickly coming to an end.

True to himself, he still smoked (something he'd picked up long after I'd left him) and unbeknownst to others, his "medicinal pharmaceutical" was tucked away in the Marlboro box.  I did not care any more.  Anything that provided relief from his pain and suffering got a +1,000,000.... from me.

When talking with him, I saw the glimmer of mischievousness in his sparkling blue eyes.  When he talked about one of our misadventures, I saw the shininess of happiness in his smile.  For a few moments, he was just with his son, and the mother that bore him.  Peace had come.  Peace has finally come for him.

We here on earth, still entangled in complicated emotions.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

26 Years Ago

In a town on the edge of Lake Superior, college sorority sisters went out for a night, soaking in the warmth of the soon fading August summer.  The bar and saloon was known for its disco glamour ball and peanut shell covered floor (it WAS 1987!).  As the group of girls drank, laughed, and swayed to the heart-thumping music, this tall, handsome, well muscled young man approached them.

Talking to the group, he used his charms and then asked me to dance.  I laughed, asked if he played football for the university and when he smiled broadly and said, "Yes" I pushed him away.  He came back, asked again, and once again, I said no.

He finally smiled and asked why.  I said football players were not my thing - just big, dumb, jocks who traipse around after other girls (apparently, not much has changed in almost 30 years :))  He stabbed at his heart, laughing, and fell backwards onto the floor.  Got up, asked one more time, I said yes.

Man, we had some heart gusting belly laughs over the next seven years.  We had a son, I kicked him out when his pot smoking habits, cheating, and other crap would not stop; when he showed up drunk at my house, I told him the rules to engage my son.

My rules were not harsh or overly restrictive:

1)  can't be using drugs anymore - no pot, coke, 'shrooms, speed, etc.  And if he claimed he was clean, he had to show me lab proof (yes, I was adamant)

2)  could not have been drinking in the 12 hours before he got to our home and he could not drink while he had our son

3)  had to set a schedule - every two weeks, every week, once a month - I did not care how often as long as it was greater than once per month

He never made an effort.  He'd say he was clean, I'd ask for proof knowing better (blood shot eyes) and he'd wander away.  He'd call asking for a place to live because of "x-y=z" reasons, I said no.  Finally, when he married a woman who then thought to shoot paint balls through my son's bedroom, I got a restraining order on her, and because of the marriage, on him as well.

The child support never came very consistently.  At $250/month, despite that he was the owner of two Subway stores in the early days of that franchise; he'd been good at making sure his salary was hidden in areas the court system would not view as income.  That was fine, my job was paying very well, my son was living a good life; despite not having his father around.

His paternal family had been asked if they wanted involvement and had shunned him over the years; they never even so much as sent a birthday card or tried to write/call him.  At the age of 8, I petitioned the court to have my son's last name changed to mine.  It was granted without question.

Don soon divorced the wretch of a woman that convinced him to sell his Subway stores and spend the money on her.  That whole episode in his life was beyond sad.  For all that he did to me, I never saw him as evil, just not capable of making good decisions for himself, and obviously, for my son.

He always made sure any consent letters I needed were taken care of so that I could take my son anywhere in the world.  In 2006, I was taking my son to the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy and needed his consent once again.  Meeting me at a Wells Fargo bank to get the letter notarized, it was the last time I saw my son's father until November 23, 2012.

For all he did not do, for all that he did do to me - there is still a piece of me that will always love him for the good times we had, for the funny adventures (and more misadventures) we went on, and for giving me the greatest gift of all - my son.

See, early last week, I'd been sent an out-of-the-blue FB message that I had not seen.

Don had stage IV melanoma, tumors on the brain, in his lymph system, and on his spine, rendering him paralyzed from the waist down.  The brother who wrote me said he was not sure how long Don would live.  The brother implored me to come back to Minnesota and have Don see his only child.  Yes, the one that he had abandoned, the one he'd never come clean to see or spend time with.

It was an agonizing decision.  Do I take my son, now almost 21, to see this man before he passes?  Or let it go and possibly regret later when my son possibly asks why I never tried to get him up there.

We went, of course.  3500 miles over 80 hours, 45 minutes with a dying ex-boyfriend/fiance, and home.

While Don's family watched from the sidelines, Don talked about things we'd done together so that my son could have some understanding of why I stayed with this man so many years ago.  Don laughed at the fishing story of our lake adventure, and then said to me, "I'm so sorry.  You've done a great job with him."

Yes, Don, I know I did.  My son is a warm, compassionate, passionate young man.

Don's own mother said she was so glad that I'd cut the anchor that was her son, from my life because, as she said, "He'd just have taken you down with him."  And she is right... but that doesn't mean you don't still care about the person, or love them for all that they were choosing to let go of all that they weren't.  And for all that he did do, or did not do, I would never in a million years have wished this terrible ending on him.  He did not deserve it.  He was not evil, just a man who made some bad decisions in his life.

And one very good one.

Yesterday, Don passed away peacefully in a morphine induced coma.  And yesterday, a piece of me died with him.  The hope that Don would turn his life around was quashed; the hope that he would finally lower his pride and come to see his son on his own, now flat-lined.

3500 miles.  80 hours.  45 mins.  Very worth it.

R.I.P. Don
December 2, 1966 - November 30, 2012