Posted by: morrowsl | July 17, 2017

And here we turn

Friday morning dawned, like most other mornings have or will, without any visible signs of what was coming.  But I knew.  I had looked down the road once, long ago, and realized that the trajectory was certain.  A collision would occur.  It would be catastrophic for some, totally obliterating for others.  There would be a day, eventually, that would change lives.  Forever.  Mine.  My family’s.  Others.
Back when I knew what was coming but wasn’t yet certain of the physical date or time, I felt that this day would bring relief certainly, and happiness, probably.  The reality is that the events as they played out were surreal.  I was observing from a great distance and couldn’t quite hear what was being said.  I am still not sure what I feel.
Although there is deja vu.  I have been here before.  I divorced twice and put my children through hell in the process.  But that water is deep and the bridge high.

I became a grandmother less than a month after turning fifty.  At the time, my daughter and son-in-law lived out of state.  I wasn’t there when their son was born.  He was already two weeks old before I met him.  Of course, I fell instantly in love.  It is true that grandmothers, no matter how strongly they love their own children, love their grandchildren even more.

That feeling, so much stronger than any I’d ever felt before, has never lessened.  It is shared with other grandchildren, but it is not diminished or diluted.

Luckily for me, this little family moved back to Texas rather quickly.  I was given a chance to spend most of my days with my new grandson.  I got to see his first tooth and first steps.  I was listening when he spoke his first words.
I helped paint his first bedroom in his first home that wasn’t a rented apartment or a room in my house.

And I moved him and his mother out of that same house when his father took the low road.  He was barely two.

In the years since her marriage came apart, I have watched my daughter struggle to make things as “normal” for her son as humanly possible.  It’s a struggle you really can’t win.  Divorce and single parenting are almost the norm these days.  But there will always be “Breakfast with Dad” days at school.  There will always be those men who are very present in their child’s life and who unknowingly emphasize the gap for those kids without that support.
But my daughter does as much as she can to be both parents to her son.  And she invites her own dad to fill in when she just can’t.  It is a sacrifice she gets more willing to make as the years pass.

Unlike me, she has never remarried.  Unlike me, her son will be her only child.  Unlike me, she has given up all efforts to have a “life of her own”, opting instead to be two parents and the sole provider.  There is never enough money.  Never enough time.  Rarely enough sleep and often not a shred of patience remaining by day’s end.
She answers all the questions.  She listens to all the stories.  She helps with homework and cautions about bad internet sites.  She makes sure he has enough to eat and at least knows what manners are even though he’s a boy and does some gross boy stuff.  She snuggles and laughs and issues warnings and punishments.  She makes sure his appointments are made and met.  She keeps him safe and happy.  She protects and loves and goes to sleep worried sick more nights than I can even imagine.

This is not to say that my former son-in-law has not been present.  He has.
He’s the one riding the meteor that crashed on Friday.

Things began to unravel almost before the ink on the divorce agreement dried.  The party that started in the last year of their marriage was in full swing as soon as Elvis left the building.
Gone was the reliable man with ambition and drive.  In his place, a former frat boy with a drinking problem and friends in low places.  Less than a year in, he’d been arrested for public intoxication.  Then came a questionable relationship with a woman whose instability sat on her countenance like a flaming auburn wig on an octogenarian.  Of course they married.  And had a child.  And carried out their destructive implosion in public where none of us could avoid it.  The drinking escalated.  Substance abuse, supposedly locked away when he first became a father, resurfaced.  Recklessness was the order of the day.  The police department made weekly, sometimes daily, calls.  Screaming through the phone.  Screeching the tires as the car pulled away.  Lying and crying and blame left and right.
It was often like watching a slow motion scene in a Schwarzenegger movie.  The absolute loss of control of lives being lived at lightening speed and crashing into the wall.  Again.  And again.  And again.  Pieces flying in all directions.  And standing in the crowd unable to understand why he should duck, was my grandson.

Having been down the road ahead of her, I knew that the only thing she had control of was her son’s stability and safety when he was with her.  I prayed, every night and sometimes all day, that there would never come a time when either of us would have to live out our nightmares.  And I knew hers were unspeakably frightening because mine were.  We both depended on her son to tell us any time he felt he was in danger and to never lie to cover up or protect.  We agreed that, should there ever be sufficient evidence to warrant it, they would disappear.

Thankfully, that day never came.

I don’t question the Universe. My former son-in-law was arrested again in April.  The timing could not possibly have been more important.
Four years.  God alone knows how many sleepless hours.  Tears enough to fill the ocean.  More money than I care to consider but would willingly double to finally be done.
In spite of knowing the judicial system wouldn’t fail her, I still had a sick feeling walking across the parking lot.  I was watching for familiar faces.  The voices in my head were those of her former in-laws who lied under oath to protect their son, as they always have, instead of standing up and asking for help with his problems.  Coming up the escalator I tried to see down the hallway to the seating area outside the courtroom.  So many times before, my daughter’s former in-laws would arrive ahead of us and watch, eyes filled with hate, while we walked to our seats.  I put nothing past them.

They never showed.

Two hours later, my daughter walked out into the sunshine of a Texas summer day with the first genuine smile I’ve seen on her face in years.  Finally.  It is done.  I am sure my former son-in-law, forced into sobriety by his incarceration, will be furious to learn he has lost his son.  I am certain he and his family will blame the loss on his ex-wife as they have every rotten thing that’s happened to them since she married him.
I am also certain that all of the questions that will be asked in the years to come will be answered with honesty.  Unlike me, my daughter has never lied to cover up the ugliness.  Her son understands that people who make bad decisions have to pay consequences.  And that, no matter how hard it gets, he will always have a mother who loves him enough to guide him down a path that keeps him from being one of those people.


Responses

  1. You had me scared to read after the first paragraph….but I couldn’t stop. A lot of simularities to the end of my 22 yr. marriage , my girls were older but the things they had to see through the eyes of two young ladies that ADORED their father no matter the wrongs he had done to our family. He remarried before the ink was dry on my divorce papers and continued down the road to hell with his addictions….until the day he flipped the car and met a tree head on upside down. My girls have struggled with his loss , even now 17 years later but it has made them strong women. I know by being their unwavering support and doing my best to model how to be a strong woman they will make good choices and look forward.
    I don’t “know” you but I feel I know you are an extremely strong woman through your sharing in your blogs. Your daughter has had a wonderful role model , you must be very proud. She’ll be fine , breath.

    • What a tragic loss for your daughters! Although, I wonder what additional hell that accident saved them from…
      They have a strong mother as their example. I’ve seen evidence of how well you raised them. They are very lucky to have you lighting the pathway!

      I am amazed that there is STILL so little support for single parents, especially moms. Without us to help her, I have no idea how she would manage everything. And employers still have little compassion for single mothers. It seems we’ve made no strides at all.

  2. Like Ronni, I was concerned (hah! numb with fear is more like it!) until I realized the subject matter.

    It’s over. It’s been a long haul for all of you and I’m so glad the healing can finally begin. Your girl will be fine – she has your strength. And her boy will be, too!! He has her…and an extended family that will wrap him in love and set his feet on the right path.

    I love you all SO much and can’t wait to see your girl again and finally meet that wonderful little boy!

    • Sorry for the heart failure!

      Those two have great communication. That probably helps more than anything. Even with his issues, she can normally get him pointed in the right direction.

      I am excited for you to meet him. I just hope your ears hold up!

      • He sounds very much like Shay in that department, so I’m sure it will be music to my ears!! 😉


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