First, thank you, thank you to all of you who sent me special greeting on the occasion of my big, fat old birthday today. Yep - as of 6:00 a.m. this morning, it was official that I am now a big, fat old 63 years on the face of this planet.
It's been a great weekend and "holiday" today too for me (Columbus Day weekend for those of you who evidently don't get the day off).
This evening, my daughter Mandy had to work but her brother, her older sister, my 10-year-old grandson - Prince Alex -my ex-husband and I all went over to the restaurant where Mandy works - Daniel's in Clearfield, PA - and had some really excellent meals! Each of us had something different - Mandy recommended the Beef Wellington to her dad but he isn't all that adventurous when it comes to food so he passed on that but I took her up on the idea and it was really delicious. It was served on a bed of rice, surrounded by a vegetable mix of peas, corn and little bits of cauliflower florets which made for a very nice presentation along with some great taste too. I also had a cup of their French Onion soup - one of my all-time favorites - and it was excellent. Clate had orange roughy with the rice/vegetable mix; Dad ordered the filet mignon; Prince Alex had baked salmon and Carrie had pasta alfredo with mushroom. For dessert, Carrie and I had fried ice cream, Dad had lemon creme pie as did Alex. Clate had to leave a little earlier than us, skipped the dessert, as he had to get ready to go back to work tonight - has to be in Harrisburg by 2:30 a.m. to start his weekly runs, back and forth from Hagerstown, MD to someplace in Tennessee.
One thing I have to say here - and this is something I mentioned to Carrie tonight while her Dad and Clate slipped outside for a smoke - that I am so glad that I really didn't try to sow a lot of seeds of bitterness in her and her siblings pertaining to Dad and our divorce and all that junk. Oh, there were times over the years when I would get angry at Dad for some things he did but I tried to explain to the kids when those things happened that it was something between their Dad and me and not something for them to think it warranted their developing a bad attitude overall, towards him. There were times though that he did do things that hurt the kids very much - for sure - but I had to explain to them over and over it was because he was sick, had an addiction that often affected his actions towards not just me, but them and his mother, his brothers and sisters too -and for them to try to understand that aspect about him. Even though at times, I know it was a difficult pill for them to swallow - me trying to tell them his actions may not have been the nicest, but that still didn't mean that he didn't deserve their love, their respect because underneath the veneer he had with the drinking, he still did love them very much.
And thankfully, 14 years ago this past September, he finally managed to get help at a de-tox center and this time - after four earlier attempts at sobriety, it took! The change in him towards the kids was evident within two months after he stopped drinking and it has improved greatly over the years too. This weekend, watching him interact with little Miss Maya -seeing the love and adoration shining in his eyes as he would play with her, talk to her and her response to him too was really overwhelming. So if you think miracles don't or can't happen, let me tell you, they can!
One more full day of Dad's visit here left to go and I know, come Wednesday morning when we take him over to the airport, it's going to be difficult for Mandy to say goodbye to him. We haven't quite decided as yet if we're going to have one more get-together tomorrow evening before he leaves or if it will just be a quieter supper here with Mandy and Bill, the kids and me. Carrie wants us to come down to her place but the timing for that would be difficult with Maya and her pre-school hours and such so looks for now like we will just be playing it all by ear I guess.
I even kind of hate to see him leave - mainly because his presence here with Miss Maya and also little Kurtis -seeing it so evident how much he loves these little ones and also, Prince Alex - I wish he did live closer and could be more a part of their lives. He's changed enough that he and I can be in the same room, joke with each other, even poke fun at the other's quirks too and not feel offended by them.
I know way too many instances of divorce where the kids turn completely on one parent, where the husband and wife can't abide the other at all, even for five minutes of civility and I find that to be a really sad situation for all concerned. He's far from being perfect, neither am I but we both recognize many of the things we did back then and the anger, pain and hurt they caused at that time but we also know there is no need for that type of dialogue and action-reaction to continue now too.
It was something that didn't come about overnight though - took a lot of work on the part of both of us to come to this stage in our lives, with respect to a relationship we once had.
For me, the high point was last year when he was here for a full week and on his last day, he had come down to the house to do up his laundry before returning to Nevada and he told me he wanted to talk to me. He said it in his gruffest voice too and all I could think of then was "Oh Lord. What the heck have I done now."
But when he told me he wanted to thank me for the job I'd done raising our children - alone - and he realized it hadn't been easy at all for me or for the kids, but he was so proud of how each of them has turned out, so happy and excited over the three grandchildren we share, he just felt he owed it to me to say thank you, job well done.
And I thought about that, long and hard, at the time and it's true he wasn't around to help when times were really tough with the kids - discipline, trying to keep them in line, in school, all those type of things - and I often very hard on the kids, not the "cookies, cream, sweetness" type parent they probably would have wanted -and although they didn't want to admit it then, but they'll freely state now that it was the best thing for them then that I was that way. They aren't perfect but they're the closest thing to that where I could possible get them under the circumstances.
Not only is he very proud of each one of them today - but so am I. And a short visit from him back into their lives gives both of us a chance to reinforce the love we both have for them - then and now and always.
I know I feel this way about them, about the relationship I have with our children and I think I can safely say that he feels exactly the same way about them too.
So, to Carrie, Clate and Mandy - the best three kids two slightly skewed individuals could possibly have produced - love always and know how proud both of us are of you three.
And to Prince Alex, Princess Maya and the Duke - Kurtis - for sure, Poppy and Grammy J think you are just the very best grandkids ever - beats sliced bread by a mile, ya know!
There's nothing, absolutely nothing, better than having grandchildren to begin with and when they are as beautiful, sweet, smart, loveable and just plain great as you three are, you are, absolutely, without a doubt, the very best!
Grammy J said that so you know it has to be the truth and nothing but the truth too!