Sunday, May 22, 2011

Survival Strategies

It's amazing to me what I or anyone for that matter has to go through to make it to my present age of 63.

I can remember being in my 30s happily married and just really starting to live my dreams in a useful way when (boom) my father started to slowly die of prostate cancer. At the time thinking that my father could die was impossible. After all, he was only a couple of years older than I am now. But by the time I was 37 he was gone and this forever changed both my life and my mother's irrevocable forever. She was only 66 at that time and alone. She started to date a man who was a friend of my father's and hers who had also recently lost his wife but soon realized she couldn't replace my father and that it wasn't going to work for her to try to date someone new. She had loved my father too much. So I watched my mother become like a rudderless ship moving from place to place and whatever I asked her to do she would just do the opposite because I wasn't Dad.

When my wife started criticizing my Dad and just wouldn't shut up about it I realized that I was eventually going to have to divorce her because I couldn't be with someone who wouldn't just shut up about my father who had passed away.  My father, like me was a very outspoken person and this offends some people. I am more a diplomat than my father whose attitude was always a very "let the chips fall where they may"  kind of like in chopping down a tree. He was always very intelligent but also very opinionated the way only people who survived both the Great Depression and World War II could be. They were fundamentally tough and resilient people.

So, 9 years later my wife and I eventually divorced. So, I attribute this marriage ending directly tied to my father's death than any other one event. Do I blame my father for dying? No. That would be ridiculous. However, it was just a fact of life. Does my ex-wife blame me for the divorce? Yes. She is like women traditionally have been for thousands of years where they blame the man for everything. Do I blame myself for the divorce? I take half the blame but the other half is hers if she actually is an adult rather than a child. But it is like the captain of a ship if it goes down. No matter what crewman made the mistake or mistakes the captain always takes the blame like any leader. It's just the way life has always been and likely always will be.

Surviving that divorce wasn't the hardest thing for me. Dealing with my feelings regarding the children in this divorce was an impossible thing for me to deal with. The oldest 3 (my son from my first marriage and her two children from her first marriage) had to endure a second divorce which no one would wish anyone to have to endure. The only useful thing here was that they were all age 19 or above so they could be considered adults at the time. However, I also had a 5 year old daughter at that time (now 22) who I tried to get custody of and failed but did receive (thousands of dollars later in lawyer fees) joint custody of with her mother receiving primary custody and I was able to see my daughter about 9 weeks a year as a (weekend and vacation Dad). This was the hardest single thing in my life that I have ever had to deal with in not being able to raise and to protect my daughter from harm (psychologically, physically and otherwise). This was awful. However, I was lucky. I remarried within a year or two of my divorce and had another daughter and moved on in my life and my then 7 year old (when my new daughter was born) was really happy to have a little sister (even though they couldn't spend as much time together as they wanted. So the upshot of all this is that my father dying ended my marriage de facto eventually.

So, even when you have your act together the deaths of parents and friends can really screw your life up big time.

So, I had to wait and have my mother's body put on ice until I could return, kiss her on the forehead as a human Popsicle and push her into the furnace and turn on the burners. It was so loud that I walked outside and watched her body turn into smoke up the chimney and thought how much she would have liked to turn into smoke and to travel around the world on the air.  One year later after resting upon my grand piano we rented a sailboat and buried her at sea near where John Denver crashed his plane as she loved John Denver and his music. She wanted her ashes to be in the ocean always.

Now it is three years later and my wife and I are finally healed up in our emotions enough to successfully go on a diet to live on for our kids and each other and ourselves.

Life never brings you exactly what you want all the time. But if you are lucky you will find a way to enough happiness in life to stay alive and sane and healthy and to survive. So, survival strategies keep as all alive for each other and for ourselves.

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