Divorce: What It Feels Like To Mourn My Father In Life and In Death
I’m a man’s man. I love sports, so much so that I’ve made a career of talking about sports. I’ve been in the Blended and Black Facebook Group since it started and it’s been a good while since I’ve even commented on a post, mainly because I stay in my lane, unless it’s about sports. But I feel it’s only right to drop my perspective on the idea of blended families. As a child of divorce, I rarely see anyone advocating for us. It’s sad and unfair.
In all honesty, love is a beautiful thing. Not just from a partner/significant other’s perspective, but the love of and from people. When genuine, it’s the best feeling to have in such a cold, callous world. I come from a family that consists of 2 sisters (one bio from my mom, both bios of my pop). My parents were married for 17 years before my dad decided to split. He moved on from my mom to another woman, with whom my mom had a negative history dating back to high school. This woman also had 2 kids of her own, and the natural thing, I guess, was for them to try to blend both families together.
My sisters (11 and 10 years older than me) were not having it. My oldest sister actually met our future stepmom right after Pop decided to leave, and she was turned off from the jump by the woman. And her reasons (without any influence from anybody) she thought the woman was a snob (which is the mostly the case).
However, they eventually moved in together and got married. My Pop raised her kids due to their own fathers abandoning them. I was not at their wedding (had an AAU Basketball tournament the same weekend) and when told by Pop that they wanted to take my stepbrother and I on the honeymoon cruise, I declined. I got blasted by him six ways from Sunday and was told I was a robot for my mom…he then disowned me, told me I was no longer his son. I was 15 years old.
It took months before I would utter a word to Pop. I had my own reason for not wanting to go: I didn’t want to be anywhere that far away with people I hardly knew. And for me, that trip was not the spot where I would want to start to get to know them.
After a while, I accepted Pop’s apology and we rebuilt the parts we needed to rebuild and resumed our father/son bond. Yet, my mom is not innocent in the matter at all. She never wanted me around this woman, and her reasons were very personal. In fact, if she found out that I was at Pop’s house, I would get in trouble for that. You mean to tell me I can’t visit my dad??? I can’t drive to his house, in the car HE bought for me? I felt I was in an unnecessary tug of war, where I was scolded, punished, or disowned if I chose wrong. That’s nothing a teenager, or anyone any age, for that matter, should ever have to mentally endure.
Pop stayed married to my stepmom for 17 years (the irony) before he saw it was time to split. The divorce hit him hard financially though. Her kids still claimed him as their dad, and he actually rented out a house that was owned by my stepsister’s husband. He was on path to being happy again.
I moved in with him five years ago, which was a year after the second divorce. We were tighter than tight. Best friends. Bachelors. Through that time, I learned more from him about the details of their divorce. I also learned that she ended up re-marrying, and this time to the bio father of my stepsister. The same dude who abandoned her and her daughter decades before. And she tried to force blend something back together, which my stepbrother, stepsister, and their kids declined.
Turn the page to May 2018. Through the stresses of two marriages ending and failed physical health, my Pop became more grumpy. He was in pain, but would not disclose that he was in pain. I could see it in him though. He eventually was diagnosed with cancer in the brain, liver, lungs, and spine. He passed away on Sunday morning, July 8, 2018. It wasn’t until after his death that I was made aware that his sisters, nieces, and his mother were also not accepting of my stepmom. My grandma told him almost 20 years ago that his second wife was no longer welcome in her home. My aunts can’t stand this lady. My cousins and nieces can’t either.
Sometimes people just feel bad vibes that won’t mesh. Influence is not always needed for that either. You can’t force anyone to love someone who they don’t elect to be around. My plea and warning to parents is that the decisions you make for yourself also affect your children, immediately or down the line. So before you leave your spouse to move on with someone else, ask yourself how may it affect your children. The biggest adjustment is not for you. It’s for them….because nobody deserves to be put in that kind of tug of war.
Not just dads, moms too. Like I said, my mom was not innocent in the tug of war. I was able to air this to both parents and they apologized. My oldest sister was off the grid for us for a decade before she came back around when Pop got sick. She promised me that would never happen again. I’m extremely thankful for that, because I missed watching my nieces grow up. I even became a great uncle three weeks after Pop passed away to a beautiful baby girl. I’m currently in counseling for my trauma, anxiety, grief, and depression. The death caused a ton of daily reflection, and I truly feel myself changing in ways, good and some bad, unfortunately. Experiences shape people. My Pop was a great man. None of his mistakes and choices discount that.
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