I will go to my grave forever regretting the loss of my kids. I did nothing to deserve this. If you have kids, treasure them and hold them forever close. If you are kids, never let a day go by without making an effort to stay in touch with your parents. They will not always been around and, trust me, whatever your relationship with them is, you will regret any missed moments when they are gone. I know. My father died in my arms and the last thing I remember was having a lengthy argument with him. It is not the last memory I want to have of him. Wherever you are, Dad, I love you from the bottom of my heart and wish we were still up in the mountains dirt-biking. Those were the best times of my life. I miss you.
My decision to move out West in 1993 was motivated by my mother’s diagnosis in 1991 with fifth stage melanoma and less than a five percent chance of survival. My parents had moved out West in 1970 and I hadn’t seen a lot of them over the years. At the time I had just finished up a very lengthy contract with a client, and, for the first time in many years, I had no client on the horizon. I had been working ridiculous hours, having billed ninety-eight hours in one week alone, and my doctor warned me that I was a poster child for a heart attack. All of my business over the years came from referrals and I treated them like the gold they were and could never say no to a new client. My kids were also grown to the point where I had to make an appointment to see them. My marriage was dead in the water after twenty-three years of trying, hoping it would magically get better. The most important factor was that, after seeing me when they came out west for a three-week holiday with me, my kids encouraged me to go. They saw how much happier I was out from under the oppression of my marriage. I honestly believed that they would come out for vacations with my family, to see me and their grandparents and their side of the family. I could not have been more wrong.
I have written the history of what happened after I moved, including driving back to Brampton in the dead of winter to see my daughter, and having my ex and her new hubby hide her away and not let me see her. It was a very traumatic time and I had no clue what was going on. In conversations with my son he told me that they got such a third degree inquisition when my ex learned that they had spoken to me that it “wasn’t worth it”. I had always taught my kids to never lie, but I couldn’t understand why they felt compelled to tell her when we spoke.
Despite my best efforts otherwise, we soon lost touch completely. My Dad even called my daughter from their place in Yuma, Arizona and left a message for her to call. She had no idea if someone, maybe me, had died or why he had called. She never called back. During this time several of my friends tried to make contact with my kids for me, and they suggested that all the cards and letters I had been sending to my daughter were being destroyed by my ex. Even as cruel as she could be, I couldn’t imagine going that far, but she was paranoid that if I had contact with them, they might move out west and leave her alone. I have no idea how she could justify cutting me off like that. The following year I got a notice that my divorce had been granted on the basis of “child abandonment” which was insane. I objected to the court that I had not been given any notice that she had filed under these conditions, even though she knew all too well where I was, with my parents. The court said it was final and there was nothing I could do to change it. It really hurt.
The years ticked by and nothing I tried worked. Finally in the fall of 2007 my son made contact through one of the social network sites. I don’t think it was Facebook, but I don’t remember. All I knew was that I was thrilled to hear from him. I learned that I now had three granddaughters and that my daughter had got married and was expecting soon. We had a very lengthy and expensive eight hour phone call and caught up on the years we had lost. Unfortunately I had to tell him we had lost Dad in 2005 and that Mum was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s. It was so great to reconnect with him and I thought he might even get my daughter to reconnect as well. Wishful thinking. I was shocked that when I asked him how his Mum was doing he said the hadn’t seen her in six months. They lived a few blocks from each other and his kids’ grandmother didn’t bother to see them? And this was why he hadn’t been in contact with me before? It all made no sense. I asked him to let me know when my daughter had the baby so I could hopefully send her something. Weeks went by, past her due date, but I heard nothing. Finally my granddaughter, Danielle, told me online that she had had the baby but no one was to tell me. So cruel.
Again, despite my efforts, my son chose not to talk to me anymore. Even more confusing to me when I thought things were going to be good again. Life took me to Panama until I returned to Toronto in March 2009 and I again tried to find them both, especially now that I was in their backyard. I hoped to meet all my grandkids. Nothing worked. I had an email addy for my son and mail was not returned so I assumed it was still valid. After moving to London I never gave up, even though I knew it would be that much harder to see them now.
My daughter-in-law had the courage to contact me by email because she felt I had a right to know that my ex-wife’s hubby had died. She told me that her and my son had also split up and things were very bad between them, partly because of my ex, which came as no surprise to me. She gave me what she thought were valid addresses for both of my kids. She told me my daughter had had another baby, so now I had five grandkids! I searched for my daughter on Facebook and found her. I was so thrilled to see how beautiful she was and to see her with her two kids. I immediately added her photo with the kids to my Facebook page, saying how proud of her I was. No sooner had I posted it than I got a threatening message from Facebook advising that I had posted a picture without permission and that my account would be suspended if I didn’t remove it immediately. I was crushed. I had no idea anyone, let alone my own flesh and blood, could be this cruel.
I had sent a sympathy card to my ex on the death of her husband, who was also a good friend of mine back in the days in Brampton. I did not expect any response and didn’t get one. I also sent two very detailed letters to both my kids, trying to explain my frustration as to why they wanted nothing to do with me. I made sure my daughter knew how hard I had tried to get in touch with her over the years. I asked my son why he had made the effort to get in touch with me and then quickly abandoned me again? I hoped that now that I was so close to them that they would make some effort to see me. I explained my very poor health to them, only to make them understand that we may not have forever to reconnect. I got no response from either of them.
My doctor had asked me to get a “do not resuscitate” order signed by a blood relative, just in case I ended up in a vegetative state, either from my diabetes or an accident. I asked her for a current email address for my son so that I could send him the forms, but now even she wouldn’t respond. She said things were very bad with my son and she wanted nothing to do with him. Most tragically they have split the kids between them which has lifetime repercussions for the whole family. I can’t imagine how my ex can support this, but then I realize she kept my own kids from me for all these years.
Two days of the year have always been tough for me – Christmas and Father’s Day. I miss my kids every single day, but on these two days I remember all the great times I had with my kids. I have always been a strong “family man” and it cuts like a knife that my kids don’t think about all the years I could not have been more supportive of them or a better father. They know in their hearts how much I loved both of them and how proud I was of them. That they have turned into the kind of people who didn’t care about their grandparents, who both loved them dearly as well, but are now gone, and they deny their kids the grandfather that they have by blood, is tragic. By her own admission, my ex destroyed our marriage and when she finally realized what she had done, it was too late to save. I can’t believe that she doesn’t see the wrong in destroying an entire family as well. As the parent in all this, she should be encouraging my kids to have a relationship with me, if not for their sakes, but for their kids sake. I believe that their kids believe I am dead. Obviously I am not and if I were them and found out my parents had lied to me and that my grandfather was alive all this time, I would be severely pissed. It should not be up to my kids to make this type of choice for my grandkids.