The combination of my birthday and nearly losing it because of my diabetes has given me cause for some reflections on life, particularly about my kids. As you know I reconnected, thanks to Facebook, with my son, Chris, last July. Although it hasn’t exactly gone as I hoped (I’ve had almost no contact with him) it is a delight to hear from one of my granddaughters, Dannielle, once in a while. The last time I saw her was when I held in her on my arms as a baby. My son has two other daughters I’ve never met. Despite the bumps it is my "joy" that we have found each other again after so many years, and that at least they know I’m still alive.
The "sorrow"? My darling daughter, Heather, got married last year and I was thrilled to learn from Chris that she was due "any day now". I waited for news from Chris or Danielle every single day about my fourth grandchild. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about congratulations, but I hoped to have some contact with her. Weeks dragged on and I thought she must be way overdue. My son finally told me just recently that Heather had had a son, but she asked him not to tell me. That was a dagger in my heart. No matter what, I cannot fathom why things are so bad that she would not want me to know about her first child. Truly tragic.
Back in February I posted an entry about my kids, hoping that some day they would see it. Chris and I had not yet reconnected, so I’m posting it again here, in the hopes that my daughter may bring herself to read it, and hopefully understand what I have been going through. I hope none of you ever suffer this kind of thing with your family. Life is too short for this kind of cruelty.
The original post –
Got to thinking recently that if anything happened to me, no one really knows the whole story of what happened with my kids, including them. If I’m gone at least some of my friends know this site exists, and maybe some day my kids will see it as well.
My son, Christopher Michael, came into this world March 27th, 1970, the year after I married his mother, Janice, born Janice Kennedy Tyrrell. In 1977 along came the light of my life, Heather Tyrrell on October 2nd, 1977. There is so much to tell about how wonderful they made my life, and how proud I was of them. They were both very active in sports, particularly Chris, who was a truly talented hockey player, and was destined to play in the NHL until he lost his drive. This story isn’t about their lives though, rather, it’s what happened to get us where we are now.
They both knew things were not good with Janice and I, for a whole lot of reasons I won’t deal with here. At one point I came out West, where my parents lived since 1970, to take a break from work stress, and my kids came out for a three-week holiday. We had the best times of our lives during that three weeks, but it ended on a tough note for me. They both told me that they had never seen me happier, and that they knew my marriage was killing me, and that I should stay out west where I belonged. This nearly killed me, as I could not understand how my own children would want me to be so far away from them. They were a lot smarter than me. They knew what was best for me, more than I did.
Despite their good advice I returned to Ontario, if only because I couldn’t stand the thought of being without them. No matter how happy I was out here, losing them was too high a price to pay. I spent the next few years in a loveless marriage, never giving up that it would somehow magically get better, which it didn’t. I left home in 1992. Over the next few months it became increasingly apparent that my kids had busy lives of their own, and I had to almost make an appointment to see them. I realized that I was sacrificing my own happiness just to be there when they found time to see me. I believed that if I came West at least we would have terrific holiday times like we did before, at least that’s what I thought. Could not have been more wrong.
The hardest day of my life was when I left my daughter to come West. It broke my heart even though I felt I was doing the right thing. My son had a family of his own, with a new daughter, and I didn’t see it hurting him as much. We had had our challenges over the years between us, as most fathers and sons do. Of course, I was also under the impression I would see them soon, when they came out for a holiday. So, despite my concern over leaving, I packed up and headed West in the summer of 1993.
Although a vacation didn’t happen as planned, I still tried to stay in touch with them – birthday cards, Christmas gifts and so on, never realizing something was wrong. Heather had phoned me to ask me to come down to her graduation ceremony in the spring, which I was planning to do. She said she had the option of going in the spring or the following fall, and would let me know. I came home one day and my Dad said she had phoned and said she decided to go in the fall, and would let me know. I never heard anything and this was the first sign of trouble. In a conversation with Chris he told me that it was just brutal for them to talk to me, because their mum gave them such a hard time about what I was doing, who was I seeing and so on. I sat down and wrote a long, heart-felt letter to Heather about how I was feeling and how much I missed her, and how much I wanted to talk to her. The following winter I knew something drastic had to happen, so I planned to drive down to Ontario to see them. Heather was to meet me at her place.
It was a scary drive down, thorugh the depths of winter, and I nearly bought it in quite a few places. I had planned to drive straight through, so there wasn’t much time for sleep. I pulled off the road into a truck stop, where there were all kinds of trucks parked at three in the morning. I woke up shivering and tried to see what time it was, but I couldn’t see my watch. It was because it was frozen over. I prayed the truck would start, which, miraculously, it did. When the radio came on, they said it was minus 53 degrees. There also wasn’t a vehicle in sight, so I could have perished right there if the truck hadn’t started.
When I got to Brampton I went to the condo Heather lived in with her mom, and buzzed for her – no answer. I asked the security guy if there was any message for me, and there wasn’t. I thought maybe I had got something screwed up, so I went up to her school, Mayfield, to see if she was waiting there for me. After hours spent in coffee shops and making phone calls to anyone I could think of who might know where she was, I finally got a hold of Chris at home. He broke the unbelievable news to me that they had hidden Heather away and were not going to let me see her. After taking my life in my hands and driving all the way across the country, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I ended up staying for a while with Chris, then drove all the way back without ever seeing her. I tried to have coffee with Janice to talk about it, but her new husband would not hear of it. This after twenty-three years of marriage.
Over the years, I have never given up trying to find them. Heather was planning to go to Carlton University in Ottawa, but I don’ t know if she ever made it. I had heard that Chris and Tina had another child, but don’t even know if this is true. My Dad called her step-brother from Arizona and left a message for Heather to call and that it was urgent. No response.
The most confusing thing for me is, even if I grasp why they cut me out of their lives, which I don’t, why did they cut off the entire family out here? Their grandparents loved them and they had a ball with them when they were out here. They have uncles and aunts and cousins, but they totally severed any contact with them. The real tragedy in all of this is that we lost my Dad suddenly in May of last year, and they don’t even know their grandfather has died. My mum suffers from Alzheimer’s now, and her memory of them is fading rapidly. It is all so confusing and tragic.
There is not a single day goes by that I don’t think of my kids and wonder how they are. Christmas and birthdays are particularly hard, and they remind me of all the good times we had over the years. Although I do not regret leaving my marriage, or coming West, for one second, the loss of my children in the process weighs heavy on my heart every single day. If Chris and Heather ever get to read this, please know that I have never stopped loving you, ever, and that losing you has been an unbearable burden every day. I have had many many good days out West, and would never leave this paradise, but no matter what, they have never been as good as if you were sharing them with me. You, or your mother, made the decision to cut us out of your lives, and I cannot find an excuse good enough to justify this in any way. I have had days where I am very angry that you have not been strong enough to realize your mother does not run your lives, and that, whatever is wrong between us, Grandma and Grandpa should never have suffered for it. They did nothing wrong.