Thursday, August 9, 2018

My Love

I started this blog a dozen years ago to talk about marriage and family life, as I've known them.  And to tell the world about the wonderful-ness of my wife.  So, I give you a two-for-one re-post in honor of Jenn's-and-my 38th anniversary. . .

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The Love of My Life

A few years back, a blogger wrote me an e-mail, in which she said, among other things, “You entered into marriage with the love of your life.” And I know what she was talking about. Jenn is indeed The Love of My Life, and blessed am I because of it.

A few years ago, Jenn had a little daily tradition - when I would come home at the end of the day and she heard the back door open just before dinner-time, she'd call out, “Is that The Love of My Life?” Which was wonderfully heart-warming for me. I'd usually respond by saying, “I sure hope so!” And as time went on, the younger kids joined in the fun. So that, when I opened the back door, 8M would often come running; when he saw that it was me, he’d run to Jenn, calling out as he went, “Mom! It’s The Love of Your Life! The Love of Your Life is home!” It doesn’t get any better than that, let me tell you.

But, truth to tell, I didn’t marry the Love of My Life; I’m married to the Love of My Life, but she wasn’t that when we got married. Some of you actually did marry the Love of Your Life – your high-school sweetheart, maybe, or someone whom you just knew, within minutes of your first meeting, would end up sharing your life with you. That wasn’t the case for Jenn and me. When we got married, I was marrying a very good friend, someone with whom I shared several important life goals and aims, with whom I got along very well, and whose company I enjoyed enough to think that we could actually have a life together. She agreed with me enough to accept my proposal (heck, the two of us getting married was probably her idea, before it was mine); we got married, and la, la, how the life went on.

It’s almost funny to look back on it now, but Jenn still tells people that our first year of marriage was the worst year of her life. Her adjustment to the new ‘life-together’ was a bit harder than mine, I guess. . . But, somewhere along the line, over the ensuing years (38 of 'em, now), she became the Love of My Life. We put in the necessary work, we shared our lives, we suffered together, and in the process of all that, our two lives became one, to the point that I can’t imagine my life without her. This woman, whom I liked and admired way back when, has proven to be even more solid, more admirable, and more amazingly wonderful than I thought she was. . .

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Only My Love Does It Good to Me

There are times when I’m simply overwhelmed by the wonderful-ness of my wife. Times when I just look at her and ask myself, “How is it that the most amazing woman in the universe threw her life in with me?” And I’m just in awe of my good fortune.

There might be a few women in the world (stress on ‘might’ and ‘few’) who are physically more beautiful than Jenn, but when I consider the strength of her character, the beauty of her soul and spirit, she blows them all away. I’ll say it again – she is the most amazing woman in the universe. I almost feel bad for the rest of you guys that she’s my wife. Almost.

And the thing is, I’m well aware that I did nothing in particular to deserve her. I’m still not real sure why, all those years ago, she brought that rubber ball to me, when it seems like there must have been lots of more desirable guys than me available to her. But I’m glad she did. I’ve often described how we knew each other pretty well before we ever got to the point of courtship. And that’s what’s most amazing of all to me – she’s told me many times how God told her, before I even proposed to her, “What you see is what you get with him.” She had a pretty good, sober assessment of my character. AND SHE STILL MARRIED ME! That blows me away, and I’m grateful for it every single day I’m married to her.

And even now, after 38 years, I’m still blown away. She knows me way better now than she did back then, and she still throws her life in with mine. For all the clear-eyed, sober appraisal of my character she had when we were courting, there are lots of things, not all of them good, that she’s only learned from living with me for 38 years. And she still stays married to me. Amazing!

“Somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, I must have done something good.”

Simply flat-out amazing. . .


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So, thank you, My Beloved, My Life-Mate, My Partner, My Closest Friend, The Mother of My Children, My Wife.  If the last 38 years have brought us to a place we never imagined, what will the coming years bring us?  As they say in Narnia, "Further Up and Further In!"

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Heartbreak Is Part of the Deal. . .

The time seems ripe for a re-post of what is (at least by my own appraisal) one of the best things I've ever posted in this humble space, so I commend this to your consideration once again. . .

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Over the course of my nearly 40 years of parenthood, I have come to the conclusion that parenthood is, by its very nature, inherently heart-breaking.

That is not, by any means, to adopt a cynical or 'woe-is-me' attitude to the biggest, best, and noblest thing I've done with my life thus far (however poorly I've actually done it; and the empirical evidence is pretty damning).  It is to say that, one way or another, our kids will, inevitably, disappoint us; sometimes crushingly so.  And that the heartbreak of parenting is one of the main ways that we fulfil what Mother Theresa liked to refer to as 'our main task in this life' - 'to learn what it really means to love'.

When my kids were born, I held such high hopes and dreams for them.  Not, to be sure, that I had 'The Plan' for their lives, or anything like that.  I actually looked forward to the adventure of finding out who they were, and what amazing and wonderful traits they would blend from Jenn and me into their own, unique selves, and what traits of theirs might go off in some entirely unforeseen directions.

And it has been wonderful to see all their lives unfold.  Several of our kids are very musical - 1F, 3M and 7M perhaps most especially.  3M and 8M are near-genius bright.  4M and 6F are both hard-working and good-looking, and 4M and 7M were star athletes (sometimes I wonder how these kids ever came from me; Jenn assures me that they did).  1F, 2F, 5M and 8M are all very kind and compassionate.  And so it goes.

But our kids, being, alas, human (wait, that doesn't sound right; I'm really, really glad that they aren't newts, or tapeworms, or whatever), are subject to the effects of The Fall, just like Jenn and I are (well, I know that I am; I'm pretty sure that she is, too, but her case is less obvious than mine).  And therein lie the seeds of heartbreak.  In our early years of parenthood, we hoped to raise a family of kids who were better than we were - with all our strengths (which we were just arrogant enough to think were considerable), but none (or at least, not so many) of our weaknesses.  We hoped that they would be smart, strong, wise, virtuous, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, without all that nagging selfishness and venality.  Because, of course, we were better than our own parents had been, right?  (Well, of course not; but we thought we were.  It's a Boomer thing.)  And we would just impart our own superior wisdom, virtue, etc. to our kids, and all would be well.  Right?

(*sigh*)

When 1F was in her teens, people used to congratulate us for having raised such a wonderful young woman. And I (perhaps inspired by a salutary humility; or perhaps merely prophesying a glimpse of the future) used to reply that it wasn't really wonderful teenagers I was after, but rather capable, wise and virtuous adults. And it wasn't too many years before my own words were borne out, to my own chagrin.

Back in the days when our older kids were passing through middle school, the Religion teacher (if that strikes your ear as a trifle odd, it's a Catholic school thing. . .) was a very wise woman, who became a good friend.  In the course of a, uh, conversation we were having about one of our kids, who was proving to be a tad more intractable than we had planned on (but which didn't seem to faze her all that much), she told us, with a wistful maternal smile, that the day would inevitably come when we would find ourselves talking to the police about one of our children (and not necessarily the one we were discussing at the time); that it had happened to her, and that it happened to most parents sooner or later, no matter how earnest or capable they were, and that we shouldn't freak out when it did.  And Jenn and I both shook our heads inwardly, certain in our own minds that her words were ridiculous, that such a thing would never happen to parents as conscientious as we were.

Such touching naivete, right?

It wasn't that many years later (distressingly few, in fact) that one of our kids (I'll decline to say which one) threw back at us, as I was retrieving him from a night in jail, that all of our kids down to him had now had run-ins with the police, and that, as far as he was concerned, that constituted slam-dunk definitive empirical proof that we were simply, utterly, execrable parents (OK, he didn't use the word 'execrable', but he used one of its synonyms).  In the years since then, that flawless record has been extended by a few kids younger than him.

I have written elsewhere of some of the youthful (or even not-so-youthful) misadventures of our older kids.  I won't rehash them for you here (and I think I've mostly taken those posts down from my old blog), but trust me when I say that we were utterly, absolutely flabbergasted.  We'd said and done all the right things, as best we could see, and as best we were able (well, you know, aside from a certain proclivity to outbursts of temper, and a few (*ahem*) minor character flaws on that order; but God understands our weakness, right?), and it hadn't been enough.  And I can tell you that it hasn't ended with them; our younger kids have made their own significant contributions to the broken-ness of our hearts

It slowly dawned on us (perhaps a good bit more slowly than it should have, but both Jenn and I had been 'good kids', so our own experience had left us a tad ill-equipped to deal with kids who were less 'with the program' than we'd been) that God, in his wisdom, had blessed our children, just as he'd blessed us, with Free Will (what He was thinking when He did that, I've had occasion to wonder).  And that, our own earnestness and sincerity notwithstanding, our kids, even though made, as we were, in the Image and Likeness of God, were also, as we were, subject to the effects of The Fall, and capable of the same sorts of jaw-dropping venality we were; sometimes, even moreso.  Even astoundingly moreso.

Taken all together, in the fullness of time it became an occasion of deeper insight into what it means to be human, to carry simultaneously within ourselves, and virtually side-by-side, both significant markers of divinity, and appalling selfishness and venality.  And to learn, on a deep, down-and-dirty level, what Jesus was talking about when he said (in so many words) that the measure of love isn't how you treat agreeable, congenial people, but rather, in how you deal with (as Thomas a Kempis called them in The Imitation of Christ) "hard, obstinate and undisciplined people".  Which is to say, people like our kids.  And us.  At least, some of the time (distressingly much of it, to be brutally candid).  Put another way - it's not the absence of heartbreak, or disappointment, that makes our lives successful, it's what we DO with the heartbreak that will, inevitably, come into our lives – can we let “love cover a multitude of sins”, or not?

So yeah - heartbreak is part of the deal.  Our kids will never be as perfect as we wish they were, and their flaws will be all-too-evident (and the ones they've picked up from us will be duly galling).  But somewhere along the way, we'll have made progress toward what Mother Theresa was talking about, learning 'what it really means to love'. . .

O Lord, have mercy. . .

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Prank You Very Much


My blog-friend joeh (aka Mr. Cranky), over at The Cranky Old Man, recently posted about some college-prank hijinks from his own college days, back in the previous century.  Which reminded me of some of my own collegiate prankish-ness from back in the day (but more recently than Joe's).  As it turns out, I already posted on this, almost eight years ago, so I hope you will indulge me this re-post.  I mean, I'm doing it for you, and your enjoyment. . .

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 I don't know what it was like where any of you all went to school, but at my school, pranks are a time-honored tradition, ranging in complexity from the simple 'pennying-in' (in which the prankster(s) wedges pennies between the prankee's door and the door frame, thus causing greatly-increased friction between the tongue of the latch and its corresponding hole in the frame, rendering it impossible to turn the door knob), or removing the microphone from the prankee's phone (this was a function of the old-style cord-phones with a handset; the prank became much more prankish when followed up by a call to the prankee's phone), or 'beer-canning', in which a 'wall' of beer cans was constructed, leaning slightly into the prankee's door, so that when the door is opened, the cans fell loudly onto the linoleum-tile floor, all the way up to considerably more, um, elaborate pranks.

The stories at my school have come down through the generations - the time a group of guys disassembled their buddy's Volkswagen and reassembled it in his dorm room, for example. Or the guys who, when their buddy went home for the weekend, removed all the furniture from his room, and replaced it with a patch of sod and a small tree; when they went down to the river that flows through the middle of the campus and kidnapped a duck, which they then leashed to the tree, the prank was complete, and awaited only the prankee's return to his room. Being a loyal member of the student body, I tried to do my part to carry on the grand tradition. Two pranks in particular stand out on my resume. You would be very kind to indulge my retelling of them. . .

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 In my freshman dorm, there were various groups of guys who tended to hang out together on the weekends. One group of guys usually went out to hit the bars, staying until the bar closed (those were the days when 18 was the legal drinking age in Michigan, so virtually all college students were legal drinkers). I was usually in with a group of guys who played Hearts or Risk until the wee hours. So that, when the bar-hoppers returned to the dorm around 3AM, we were usually the only ones still awake to greet them.

One such night, we were just finishing a game of Risk when the bar-guys returned, loud and boisterous. We left our game briefly to exchange greetings. One guy, named Mike, was particularly, shall we say, worse for wear. We watched as Mike staggered down the hall toward his room at the far end of the hall, bouncing off one wall and then the other, until, about two-thirds of the way there, he passed out in the middle of the hall.

Now, at this point I should tell you that the particular dorm I was living in was something like a 'science dorm'; which, for purposes of this story, meant that many of us shared the same classes. Which became the immediate occasion for the hatching of our prank. As we stood in the hall contemplating Mike's prone-and-unconscious form (which may or may not have been drooling on the floor), it came together.

We quickly returned to our rooms and switched from our Friday-night casual attire (which, in the men's wing of our dorm, involved more skivvies than some of you might want to think about) into our more everyday going-to-class clothes (by the mid-70s the distinction could be pretty subtle, but it was there). Grabbing armloads of textbooks, we gathered around Mike's unconscious form and shook him awake. "Mike!" we yelled. "Are you still here?!? Wake up, man! We've got a Chemistry mid-term in 20 minutes! You just slept through the whole weekend, man!"

Mike, now awake, but not appreciably less drunk than he'd been fifteen minutes previously, stared back at us, uncomprehending. "Huh?" he said. So we repeated our line, and slowly, our message seeped into Mike's consciousness. "Are you shitting me?" he inquired (we were, but we weren't about to tell him we were). "No, man - you slept through the whole weekend, and now we've got a mid-term in 20 minutes!" Mike was exceedingly dismayed as this knowledge worked its way into his brain. Rising to his feet, he began cursing himself. "Aw, MAN! I can't believe I did that! I didn't study at all! I'm gonna fail for sure!" Staggering the rest of the way to his room, he stripped and got into the shower (which he set at something like 32.6 degrees Fahrenheit), in a forlorn attempt to wake up and/or sober up. A steady stream of loud expletives emanated from his shower.

In the meantime, our merry band of pranksters returned to our rooms and reverted to our more 'skivvy-ish' Friday-night attire, then wandered slowly down toward Mike's room. Finding him in the icy shower, we professed our confusion - "Mike, what are you doing? It's 3 o'clock Saturday morning!" Mike looked back at us, still not notably soberer than he'd been when he got there. Slowly, the realization dawned on him that he'd been had. And, in his drunken haze, that realization enraged him. He charged out of the shower, chasing us all down the hall. But of course, he was still drunk. Besides which, he was dripping wet, and running on a linoleum floor. So he didn't chase us far before he slipped and fell, right up against a door that someone else had helpfully beer-canned earlier, thus causing the intended metallic racket (it just hadn't necessarily been intended for him). It was all too much for poor drunken Mike to deal with, and he burst into tears, creating one of the more pathetic scenes to which I have ever been a witness - a drunk, naked, wet guy, sobbing in the middle of a pile of beer cans. . . Or is that just mean of me?

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A couple years later, I was living in a different dorm with my buddy, let's call him Alex. Early in the spring, we had one of those delightful unseasonably-warm days, the kind where people throw open their windows just to smell the fresh air for the first time since before the winter. Adjacent to our dorm was a women's dorm, and that very fact was more than some of the young men in our dorm could handle. One pair of guys in particular were especially rude and crude, keeping up a steady loud stream of obscenities directed toward the young ladies next door.

After enduring this stream of vulgarity for as long as we figured we could (and longer than we figured we should have to), Alex and I hatched a plan. Looking out our window, we ascertained the room from which the obnoxiousness was emanating. In fact, the guys would lean out their window whenever they would yell at the girls. So Alex, who had a bit of the daredevil in him, climbed up onto the roof from the balcony at the end of our floor, and I passed a bucket of water up to him. The plan, such as it was, was that, the next time our guys leaned out their window to yell at the girls next door, Alex would douse them. I watched from our window as Alex took his position, lying with his head and shoulders just over the edge of the roof, waiting for our prey to reappear. Except they never did. Apparently their mood had passed. So Alex and I decided to abort the plan, and dump the bucket harmlessly onto the grass below.

Except that, instead of dumping the bucket away from the building, Alex dumped it inward, toward the building. So that a cascade of water fell in through the still-open window of our erstwhile disturbers-of-the-peace. At that point, the pace of events quickened dramatically. In short order, two very angry guys came running up the stairway to our floor, from the one below, where our 'friends' lived. First, they went to the room directly above theirs, only to find a very bewildered resident with closed, but very wet windows, wondering (a) why his windows were wet, and (b) why these angry guys were banging on his door.

Alex, even from his rooftop vantage point, sensing that the moment might not be opportune for him to climb back down onto the balcony, nevertheless handed the bucket down to a freshman who lived in the room next door to ours, and who was in some sympathy with our aims. So that, when the still-angry guys from the floor below came back down the hall, wondering who had doused their room, if the guy above them hadn't, they suddenly encountered our young man holding a bucket on the balcony, providing them with a new target for their rage. It turned out that they had a TV set in their room, which they kept directly below the open window through which Alex had poured the contents of our bucket. Or, by that point, I should more properly refer to it as a former TV set, since the watery cascade had, as they say in the industry, gazorped it. And they were ready to do some serious bodily harm to the poor kid holding the bucket.

I knew it wouldn't be right to let the kid take a beating for our misbegotten prank, so I casually wandered out to 'see what the commotion was about', trying to adopt the role of peacemaker, and, you know, 'defuse the situation'. Meanwhile, other guys were running up and down the hall, breathlessly announcing that "There's someone on the roof!" Which was sort-of working against my peacemaking, defusing efforts, and moving the angry guys to suspect that my own motives were, shall we say, less than pure.

Alex, meanwhile, had gone to the other end of the dorm and climbed down to the balcony at the opposite end of the building. So that he came sauntering down the hall from the opposite direction, wondering what all the commotion was about. Perhaps they discerned something a trifle ungenuine in his demeanor, but in fairly short order, he became the new object of their wrath. The situation was touch-and-go for a while, until one of the guys cooled down a little and convinced the other one that beating the stuffing out of us wasn't worth the trouble, so they left and went back to their room, while the three of us heaved a heavy sigh of relief. When I explained the situation to Alex (he hadn't known about the blown TV), he more clearly understood the nature of their wrath (of course, it also rekindled his glee, since perhaps our plan hadn't worked so badly, after all). So he went to the party store across the street from the dorm, and bought a peace-offering of beer, which he and I took to their room. They accepted it, and then told us to never let them see our faces again. Which, so far as it depended on me, I was only too happy to oblige. . .

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The story didn't reach its final conclusion until a couple months later. I was returning to the dorm after my last class of the day, and there were three police cars, lights flashing, parked in front of our dorm. As I stood there, wondering what was going on, the police emerged from the building, with our two erstwhile victims in handcuffs. They put them into the back seats of separate cars, and drove off, leaving me still wondering what had happened. The next day's newspaper contained a front-page article describing a major on-campus drug bust. Two guys had been arrested who were doing business on the order of $50,000/year (and these were honest-to-goodness mid-70s dollars, not the meek little things we have today) out of their dorm room. And then my eyes got real big when the article went on to note that the dorm they were taken from was ours. After that, Alex and I got a huge laugh (with a hefty dose of the willies mixed in) from the idea that we'd fritzed the TV of a couple of major on-campus drug dealers. . .

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Indeed!

"If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But. . . 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'  'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

-- from the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 15

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Christ Is Risen!
He is Truly Risen!

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Wishing my readers (all three of you) a blessed and joyous Feast of the Resurrection of Christ!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rays of Sunshine

I've had occasion, over the 12 years that I've been running this blog (and its predecessor), to put my grief before your eyes (along with my many blessings, to be sure).  Five grandchildren and no weddings, and other things of that order, have grieved me greatly (and perhaps unduly bent my opinion of my own fatherly qualities in a negative direction; perhaps).  But, to be sure, it's not all gloom around here, and just lately, the news has been trending in a distinctly positive direction. . .

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We are in the last month-and-a-half before we have the first wedding amongst our children.  1F will be marrying her fiancee (call him BN; or would you rather call him 1Fh - 1F's husband, get it?) in May.  My dear eldest had some rough years on the way to this point, and BN would be the first to tell you that he has his own shortcomings.  But he adores her, and the two of them have a delightfully symbiotic relationship (which is to say, they help and support and take care of each other in some lovely ways).  Over the months of their courtship, BN has made his way into our collective hearts, and become a part of our family.  A real occasion of joy for our family.  So, that's nice. . .

About a month ago, 4M announced his engagement to his girlfriend of the past few years (call her MR; or maybe 4Mw, when the time comes), to be married early next year.  She's a sweet young lady.  She and 4M met in college, at Jenn's-and-my alma mater.  After college, they went their separate ways for a year or so, but kept in touch.  Then a couple years ago, she moved out to Seattle to be with him, and things progressed from there.  Her family has been wonderful to ours; Jenn and I spent a couple days with them at their cottage Up North over the Christmas holidays.  Delightful folks.  We could not be happier to be adding her to our family.

So, two weddings in the next year (with the possibility of more to come; but, you know, carts and horses, and all that. . .).  This will be fun. . .

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And we just got word today that the adoption of 6F's new baby girl will be final in short order.

It was a source of great, uh, frustration and sadness when she told us, about a year ago, that she was pregnant out-of-wedlock for the second time.  And her latest baby-daddy was, how shall I say it, a loser of the first order - in his early 40s and living with his mom; and I'll leave it at that.  But we were pleasantly surprised when she made her adoption plan, and started making more constructive decisions for her life and future, like going back to school.

Baby-daddy was just fine with her new plan (since it didn't involve him having to pay for anything).  But then he told his mom.  And she raised hell, even showing up on our doorstep, letting us know in no uncertain terms that she was not going to allow us to send her one-and-only grand-baby away, and calling us nasty things and impugning our religion, and promising to break us with lawyer fees (which betrayed a lack of understanding on her part of how these things go; we've at least gone through the adoption process once before, so we know how it works, and we know that, for better or worse, grandparents, ourselves included, have no standing in such cases, at least not in Michigan).  We were pretty sure that we had the better of the legal argument, but you never know what a slick lawyer can get a court to accept, so it was not without some anxiety on our part.

Baby-girl was born in October, and immediately placed in the care of the putative adoptive parents.  The first court date was in November.  Now, back when 1F was placing her baby girl for adoption, there was only one court date.  But in this case, there were a total of four court dates to accomplish the same result.  Four times, we had to go downtown to the courthouse, and spend an afternoon sitting in the hall (as grandparents, we have no standing in the case, and Baby-daddy's lawyer made sure we weren't allowed inside the courtroom), trying to avoid saying anything to Baby-daddy's mom.  For the fourth court date, they even fired their lawyer, and brought in another one, which threatened to start the proceedings over from scratch, but thankfully, things didn't play out that way.  It seemed a large part of their strategy was to delay, and delay, and delay, and pile up legal fees for our side.  To make matters worse (or maybe better, all things considered), their lawyer was arguing the case as if it were a custody dispute, rather than an adoption hearing making a determination of the best interests of the child.  Incredibly frustrating.

In late February (after four court dates spanning three-plus months), the proceedings finally came to a close.  Baby-daddy's parental rights were terminated (apparently, sending the birth-mother a text message calling her a 'stupid c**t' was not helpful for his case), and then 6F's were, and things for Baby-girl were on their way to resolution.  But there was still a 21-day window in which they could file an appeal, and as they left the courthouse, they promised us that an appeal would be forthcoming, "all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to."  So we waited, expecting to hear about an appeal.  We also received a couple of legal papers, asking us to answer questions pertaining to the custody case; which was odd, since there were no longer any parental rights, on either side, to hold in dispute.  Confused to the bitter end. . .

Yesterday was the last day of the 21-day window, and by the end of the day, we still hadn't heard anything.  But, you know, sometimes these things take a couple days to work through the system before they're publicly posted, so we figured we'd have to wait a few days longer.  But today we got the final word that no appeal would be forthcoming.  It turns out that they did, in fact, see a lawyer about filing an appeal, but the lawyer told them they had no chance of winning the appeal, and refused to take the case.  So the adoption will be final, and 6F, Baby-girl, and the adoptive family can all get on with their lives (and Baby-daddy can get his mom off his back for a while).

As with 1F's birth-daughter (now 12 years old), we know the adoptive parents.  Not well, but we know both sets of their parents better than we know them.  During the 'home study' phase of them being selected as adoptive parents, we got to talk with them.  They told us that, while they were fine with having an open relationship with 6F, they really didn't want to deal with Jenn and me.  That was a sadness for us, but we understand (and just for the sake of saying so, the adoptive parents of 1F's daughter were initially more reluctant to deal with us than they were once they were more secure in their parental status).  And besides, one of the sets of grandparents are pretty close friends of ours, so they will 'smuggle' us photos, and tell us stories, which is a nice bonding thing between us (we've known a few instances, among our friends, of couples whose kids have married each other, and the 'co-grandparenting' relationship is a lot of fun).

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So - rays of sunshine.  God is good. . .

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Things You Don't Say to Your Wife

You might have seen this before,but I just saw it recently, and it had me rolling on the floor (Jenn even liked it, too. . .)

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Things You Don't Say to Your Wife
by Tim Hawkins (with apologies to Green Day)

Hey honey have you gained some weight in your rear-end?
That dress you wear reminds me of my old girlfriend
And where'd you get those shoes? I think they're pretty lame
Would you stop talking 'cause I'm trying to watch the game

If you're a man who wants to live a long and happy life
These are the things you don't say to your wife

I planned a hunting trip next week on your birthday
I didn't ask you 'cause I knew it'd be ok
Go make some dinner while I watch this fishing show
I taped it over our old wedding video

If you're a man who wants to live a long and happy life
These are the things you don't say to your wife

Your cooking is ok but not like mother makes
The diamond in the ring I bought you is a fake
Your eyes look puffy dear, are you feeling ill?
Happy anniversary I bought you a treadmill

If you're a man who wants to live a long and happy life
These are the things you don't say to your wife
If you're a man who doesn't want to get killed with a knife
These are the things you don't say to your wife

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Just for fun, here it is on YouTube (or, the Tube o' You, as my late friend Buck would have it ). . .

Friday, January 26, 2018

Sad Times at the Alma Mater. . .

There are no words to describe my sadness over the situation over at my alma mater. I mean, it is beyond awful, and anything I could say runs the risk of seeming trite.  I wish it were a bad dream, and I could just wake up and make it go away, but alas, it is all too real. . .

I am a father of three daughters, and I understand all too well the sheer helpless rage that this awful person was able to abuse so many young women, who are themselves someone's daughters, right under the noses of people who were charged with protecting the well-being of those young women.  I mean, some of the abuse happened while the girls' mothers were in the room with them.  Such was the level of this man's deception and depravity.  It boggles the mind.

On one level, I understand how it could happen.  Dr. Nassar had achieved for himself a certain lofty reputation as a sports doctor.  He didn't just work at MSU; he worked for the US Olympic women's gymnastic team, which won gold medals, and whose members became the darlings of TV coverage every four years.  Some of the women who testified in court had more-than-modest fame.  There was a level of prestige that accrued to the university for having such an eminent doctor on its staff.  So, when he 'explained' his abusive actions as 'cutting-edge' medical techniques, there was a disposition to accept his 'explanation' at face value.  Because, you know, he was a 'cutting-edge' guy, and he knows things the rest of us don't.  It can be hard to see things one would rather not see. . .

There were 156 women who spoke in court about being abused by Dr. Nassar.  One hundred and fifty-six.  It seems pathetic to even cite the number.  To paraphrase Josef Stalin, one young woman abused is a tragedy; 156 is a statistic.  But each one of these young women was somebody's daughter.  And they weren't all university athletes; the youngest was only 6 years old. And all they wanted was to play gymnastics.  Or soccer, or softball, or volleyball, or tennis, or track.  Getting sexually abused wasn't supposed to be part of the program.

I have always been a proud alumnus of my university; I have bled green, as we like to say.  But this is just the saddest, most awful thing I could imagine.  The kind of thing that happens someplace else.  But this happened here.  At my school.  And people I have admired and respected were found wanting.  The school's president and athletic director have both already resigned/retired, and one wonders who'll be next.  I have no idea how events will finally shake out, and what the university will look like when they do.  I hope that things are put in place to ensure that such a thing can never happen again; or at least, that the next would-be abuser is stopped at least 20 years sooner. . .

One of the women told the court that her life had been ruined.  I would hope, and pray for her, that that won't, ultimately, be true.  Harmed,she has certainly been; perhaps even scarred for life.  At least one of my daughters has suffered abuse, from which I was unable to protect her.  And she was irrevocably harmed by it; her life has not gone the way she planned when she was young.  But her life wasn't ruined.  She is a stronger woman today, even notwithstanding the awful things that were done to her.  There is healing, even if you walk with a limp.  And I would pray for healing for each of those 156 women, and the unknown others who didn't speak in court.  Don't let this define you.  You are worth so much more than Larry Nassar gave you credit for. . .

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(add, 27Jan)

Rachel Denhollander was the first of Larry Nassar's victims to go public, and the last to speak to the court. Her statement is a hundred thousand times more eloquent than anything I've said, or could ever say.  I encourage all my readers to read it, in its entirety. . .