divorce sweet release there goes the neighborhood

They’ve Begun To

“When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they ‘don’t understand’ one another, but a sign that they have, at last, begun to.”–Helen Rowland

Our next door neighbors recently signed divorce papers.

In the ways that divorce can be awful, it has been. The husband has been angry, betrayed, wanting retribution. The wife has been sad, confused, feeling defensive.

Lately, the nine-year-old son amuses himself by putting his Lego creations in the middle of the street and watching cars run them over. When her dad starts yelling, the seven-year-old daughter buries her head under a couch pillow and sobs.

Although the marriage lasted fourteen years, its death commenced shortly after the first child was born, when the new dad experienced, for the first time, how stressful life with kids is. Rather than forcing himself to step up, he chose to absent himself, even when physically present, rendering his wife, in essence, a single parent, albeit it one with the added level of resentment that comes from having the children’s father sitting out back on the steps, strumming his guitar, while she wrestled two toddlers to bed each night.

Of course, relationships go both ways, and the dad’s story would include chapters of resenting a wife who gives everything to the kids and nothing to him, of supporting a wife who opts to stop working and expects him to pull all the financial weight, of a wife who changes her mind midstream. He feels used.

This divorce does not hinge upon blame, though. More, it pivots on a glacial growing apart, of getting married in their twenties and realizing, in their thirties, that they have trouble liking each other, that their views of the world have diverged radically, that he wants to go to Rush concerts while she wants to design little girls’ bedrooms in Shabby Chic. As is the case in many divorces, their break-up isn’t a case of flashy drama but, rather, of slow decay.


In the ways divorce can be freeing, this one has been. Although the Rush Lover is acting as though his wife enjoyed a leisurely vacation at home these past years while he hauled himself off to the office to give and give and give of himself, I daresay a part of him is relieved. He won’t have to feel guilty anymore for puttering in the garage, building furniture, when the rest of the world wants him to tell his wife, “Your job is 24/7, and there’s no clocking out, so why not take an hour here and go for a walk?” He won’t have to feel put out anymore when his wife asks him to watch the kids so she can go get her hair done. Instead, the emotional nuances that play into good parenting and spousing—nuances that have largely eluded him –are no longer a factor, since the expectations of his fatherhood have been typed out, clearly, with set hours and boundaries, on legal paper. He now knows when he can and can’t make furniture or strum “Closer to the Heart.” He now knows exactly which hours of the week he should call out, “Okay, kids, let’s go to the playground!” The murkiness that comes from sharing a household, from not being able to decode a complicated set of encrypted expectations, has cleared.

For the wife, freedom comes from the abolishment of resentment; from no longer having to tamp down her disappointment, fear, and hopes; from realizing that, if she couldn’t figure out how to be strong within marriage, then it’s time to master strength on her own.

Despite her excitement at being free, the wife existed in limbo for some weeks after the break-up became official. He got the house; she got primary custody of the kids. With no place to move with the kids and very little money in hand, she remained in the house until the final possible move-out date. Only through the kindness of friends did she land in a perfect rental, which she is just settling into.

Currently, he has a steady flow of income from his clients; she is living off past garage sale earnings and applying for public assistance to tide her over until he sells off some investments to raise the settlement money she has coming to her. Despite these financial straits, she was holding steady, attitude-wise, until her final lawyer’s bill arrived. She had expected it to be $800. But since Ex-Husband had drawn out the finalizing of the papers, asking for meetings twice a week to change a few words, the final bill came to $3,000.

As Ex-Wife sat with that bill on her lap, moving more of her things out of her previous house, Ex-Husband walked in with a trailer load of new IKEA furniture totaling well over $1,000.

The disparities snapped her positive attitude. She had known her lawyer was inept; she had realized she rolled over too easily on some agreements; she was the first to admit the marriage had been a two-way street.

But. It. Just. Felt. So. Unjust.

A feeling that had been fomenting inside of her hardened, became shiny. In the fashion of a 1987 Women’s Studies class, she became rabid about the word “empowerment.”

Eventually, she accepted that, on some fundamental level, her final step to complete empowerment entailed financial self-sufficiency. Her plan to open a shop of “gently used” clothing and household items—the kind of shop she’d started and successfully run two times previously–gained momentum. The space is rented, partially painted, awaiting carpet replacement. Up until the lawyer’s final bill arrived, Ex-Wife had hoped to keep her stock for the shop in Ex-Husband’s garage while the store’s interior was polished.

After the lawyer’s final bill arrived, she became amenable to a mass transfer of Stuff to the half-finished shop.

So now her future Empowerment is stacked in a heap on the ratty old carpet in her will-open-one-day-somewhat-soonish store.

It’s dingy, it’s mottled with the splotches of decades, but that damp, smelly rug feels like a less toxic place to risk her future than her husband’s arms ever did.

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bigotry bread divorce emergence friends past summers


Four years ago this summer, in 2003, I started to think I might be an adult. I was 36.

Sure, I had been married for a few years, I’d been teaching at the college level for more than a decade, I’d been a homeowner several times over, and I had two kids. But up until that summer, a big part of my self-definition had always been as “daughter.” However, after my dad died the previous winter, and my mom started spending more and more time in California, deepening her relationship with The Other Man, I underwent a clear separation from the influence of my parents–a separation that many people go through during adolescence. For me, my parents had always been such good friends to me that I never saw them, metaphorically, from a distance; I was their baby, even into my thirties, basking in their attention and love.

But then my dad died, and my mom started transforming herself into someone entirely new (Exhibit A: the morning after she surprised my dad by having divorce papers served on him, she got a nose job; I remind you she was 67).

I felt as though somebody had put Baby in the corner.

Fortunately, my corner was bustling with matrimonial pleasure and the swirl of small children and the enlivening presence of friends and entertaining, so the diminishment of my “daughter” role felt okay. Things had changed. Things do that.

Thus, although I felt orphaned from my previous relationships with my parents, many good things emerged that summer:

–First, I had a really big, healthy baby who gave his sister an outlet for her desire to squeeze and wuv. At age 3, she already had two avocations: babies and clothes. She was already, and I strangle as I write this, a mini-Nicole Ritchie…although I daresay Nicole Ritchie is a actually a mini-Nicole Ritchie, and my three-year-old already outweighed the real Nicole Ritchie, so maybe she was a Big Nicole Ritchie. At any rate, our Girl surely doted on her brudder and her ponchos and her embroidered jeans.

–Secondly, with complete mercenary intent (read: I didn’t really care what I learned), I was taking a couple more graduate courses, one online and one through correspondence. I did this to earn enough credits to move over on the payscale at work; we would be needing more money, what with having to feed our lug of a baby and keep his handler in ponchos. My strongest memory of these courses pertains to the online advanced grammar course I was taking; every time I had to take a timed quiz, which only lasted ten minutes, I would get to the second question, only to hear Wee Niblet start his predictable yowl. For about three minutes, I’d sweat it out and let him yowl, as I muttered, “Okay, so I’m thinking about generative and transformational grammars here, not about how my breasts are leaking milk onto the keyboard. Screw the baby. Ace the quiz.” Then I’d give it up, and as the clock continued to tick down the minutes, I’d race upstairs, grab him off the bed, and then nurse him at the computer while I frantically finished the quiz. The pudgy little bastard.

–Thirdly, even though our house measured in at under 1,000 square feet, our willingness to entertain and our sense of hospitality were equivalent to Oprah’s Santa Barbara mansion in size–we had fourteen bathrooms and eight bedrooms…in our hearts. That June, during Duluth’s yearly major event of Grandma’s Marathon, we delighted in hosting out-of-town guests and filling the house with no fewer than 63 other random stoppers-by, many of whom were not the slightest bit interested in cheering on sweaty runners but, rather, who had heard the Legend of Jocelyn’s Chocolate Dump-It Cake (frosting: melted chocolate chips stirred into sour cream, spread on top of the cake at least 1/2″ thick). For Groom and me, happiness is a front porch piled high with piles of shoes and stacks of jackets, discarded there by visiting friends.

–Fourth, our backyard garden patch offered up a cornucopia of raspberries, and, as it turns out, picking raspberries is one of my avocations (that and ponchos). The canes had been untended until we moved in, and once Groom cleaned them up, their daily yield in August had me picking both morning and night. Naturally, a fridge full of raspberries demands that a cream cheese pie be made–and that friends be invited over to share in it, so long as they insisted on having “only a slice” and leaving the lion’s share for us’ns.

Yes, it was a charmed summer, save for one thing.

The reality of my mother’s new boyfriend also emerged.

It wasn’t gracious or or fashionable or hospitable or raspberry-tinged at all.

When Mom and Beau decided to visit Minnesota to attend a high school reunion together, I realized this was my chance to affirm that I was still behind her, despite all the rips and tears in our relationship that had taken place with the divorce and my dad’s subsequent death. I definitely wanted my mom and her “friend” to come to our home, where we could play out The Family Acknowledgement part of this new relationship.

Before their visit, I asked my mom what kinds of things Beau liked to eat and if he had any food issues we should know about and plan the menu around. The response was, “Beau says you should make a roast and potatoes. And he likes bread.”

Um, okay. It appeared we were to put the recipe books away and just follow orders.

The evening of the meeting came, and, as the roast slow-cooked in the crock pot, we welcomed Beau into our home. He was chatty, which my mom liked in contrast to my dad. He was jokey though not funny, again a departure from my dad. He said, clearly and loudly, positive things about my mom, which my dad had rarely done.

And within five minutes, he had worked the words “Spics” and “Poofs” into casual conversation.

Indeed, he could not have been more unlike my tolerant father.

When the bigotry and homophobia emerged so easily, I was speechless. Then I experienced an all-over body flush, and not in a good way. Simultaneously, my brain started to spin around frantically, knocking against my skull:

“I can’t just stand here and let him say those things in my house. I can’t. It violates every value I hold dear. And he’s saying those things in front of my kids, especially my impressionable three-year-old! This is unacceptable, and to remain silent would compromise who I am.”

However, I did remain silent. In the midst of the tangled web of that previous year, with everyone in my family barely hanging on to anyone else, with so many misunderstandings and hurt feelings, this evening of deliberate acknowledgement of my mom’s hard-wrought choices was huge. I couldn’t see how to walk the line between my values and keeping my mother.

Hoping to compromise, I played around, internally, with ways to phrase my dismay to this stranger that my mother was thinking of marrying. How could I express my astonishment and upset in a way that wouldn’t shut down our future as a family? (albeit one that would stand around awkwardly together at any rendezvous)

As I mulled over the options, Groom and I exchanged panic-stricken glances and then found ourselves, against our wills, distracted and entranced by the spectacle unfolding at the dinner table. See, not only was Beau racist, he was a bit of a pig. As he chomped on his roast and potatoes, he discovered he also liked the mandatory bread a great deal, to the point that he needed to eat seven pieces of it in quick order. Rather than asking that the board of bread be passed down to him from the far end of the table, though, he simply stood from his chair each time he wanted more, meat knife in hand, reached down the three feet of the table, across everyone else’s plates, and speared himself a new piece. Seven times.

As it turns out, there comes a moment when awestruck silence is the best approach. We floundered through the rest of the evening, me with a hard nugget of sadness in my belly. In the past, I had been bewildered by my mother sometimes, but this was a new feeling.

This was disappointment.

I later asked her what she was doing with someone like that–pointing out that such language had never been used or accepted in the house I grew up in, that I had never seen bigotry tolerated from her before. My mother’s response was that she just shut her ears when he started in; she didn’t want conflict, so she said nothing.

This, in my view of the world, is nearly criminal. Yet I, too, had sidestepped conflict with Beau that night at our house. I had let it slide, in the hopes of some larger reparations.

Pretty quickly, though, I made up my mind that I wouldn’t participate in the tacit support of his damaging views in the future. It just hurt too much.

Strangely, that whole episode–of being shocked by the new man my mom had chosen–ended up helping me understand her better. For her to abandon the values she’d lived by her whole life, just to have a boyfriend (her rationale for being with him, when I asked, was “He’s a good kisser.” I was very glad she was only acting sixteen and didn’t actually have the eggs of a sixteen-year-old, or she’d have been pregnant within a month), well, it smacked of desperation.

Somehow, really getting how desperate my mom had been all those years, for affection from any male, well it softened my judgement into understanding. To sacrifice one’s beliefs for a kiss–now that’s tragic. That’s lonely.

I did tell my mom how I felt and what I saw. Beyond that, it wasn’t much my business. She was 68, had a new nose and a new boyfriend…and they were going to get married. In Reno. At a class reunion.

Shortly before the wedding, though, my mom called it off. She had realized that Beau not only kissed; he ranted. After extended harangues–she didn’t order right at a restaurant one time, and she didn’t put a stamp correctly on an envelope another time–Mom realized her stomach hurt a lot in this new relationship. Eventually, she realized he was borrowing a lot of money, not so much requesting it but rather telling her how much he needed. She also noted that he kept a lot of side relationships with other women brewing. So she called off the wedding.

Instead, she just shacked up with him in California. Rants continued. Money “lending” continued.

After more than a year, she moved out and got her own small apartment, Praise the Gay Dios! But they continued to date until just recently.

A couple of months ago, after they’d attended a bagpipe concert, Beau had a heart attack outside of his house, fell, and hit his head (something that’s been known to happen after bagpipe concerts); as my mom dialed 911, he bled from the ears, and his lips turned blue. He died.

A few weeks later, another guy my mom went to high school with called. They’ve been dating now for a bit. The report is that he doesn’t rant.

I haven’t asked what kind of kisser he is.

Thus, four years ago this summer, the biggest thing to emerge was a need to be willing to renegotiate my relationship with one of the dominant people in my life. Continually doing that can be exhausting. But, heck, she attended every one of my piano concerts and cried in the audience when my Home Ec class had its fashion show. She could date David Hasselhoff and I, gulp, would still be there.

Mostly through email, though. A little distance never hurt anybody, especially when The Hoff is involved.


Wow. After all this typing, I’m a little peckish.

Pass the bread, woncha?

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death divorce parents past summers pregnancy

Family, Edited

I went to a baby shower last weekend. Although it got a little woo-woo during the programmed portion of the event (a candle was lit in the center of the circle; we all held onto a long hank of yarn, one that apparently connected all our pulsing womanhoods into one larger life force; there were beads; there was sharing), I managed to stifle my desire to make a break for the door. This was a good thing, as conversation, once the compulsory estrogen communion was over, returned to an unorchestrated flow, during which Knocked-Up Friend noted that, because her IVF baby had been created quite deliberately, with the help of a village of medical types, and because the pregnancy was iffy, what with her being a fairly aged crone of 40, she hadn’t shared news of her pregnancy right away…but when she did go public, she expected the world to gather around her in a seizure of delight, making continued hoopla at her feet for the remainder of her nine months of maternal glow.

What a shock it was to her, then, to finally publicly join the ranks of the preggers in a prenatal yoga class. She entered the room, secure in the knowledge that she was the cutest pregnant woman in Duluth, only to realize that there were 10 other equally cute pregnant women there, all contorted into lotus position. The following week, when she went to her first birthing class at the hospital, her illusions were further snapped when she stepped into a room full of another 15 really cute pregnant women, all of whom inhabit Duluth. It appeared that the title of Cutest Pregnant Woman, with all its accompanying bling, glory and ballyhoo, would have to be shared with every other damn big-bellied woman in the Twin Ports region. She would not, to her dismay, be the sole Gestational Goddess in town.

The same lesson was pounded home to me five years ago, in the summer of 2002, when I was pregnant with the Wee Niblet. His being my second pregnancy, and with a very charming 2-year-old scene stealer already living in the house, I wasn’t actually under the delusion that I was the center of anyone’s universe, but, still, I was imbued with that special pregnancy feeling that I carried in my womb a profound and secret joy.

Then one day, as we awaited the arrival of my mom and her sister who were driving to Northern Minnesota all the way from Rectangular States to the West, the mail arrived.

And in the mail was a personal letter. How lovely to get a personal missive in the age of postal-service-whore-as-pimped-by-direct-mail!

Strangely, the letter was from my mom, who’d been on her way to us for days. She must have posted it just before she hit the road.

Assuming it would contain her usual “I saw this little snippet in the ‘Humor in Uniform’ section of READER’S DIGEST and thought it would make you chuckle” contents, I carelessly ripped open the envelope.

The first sentence read “The topic of this letter may surprise, even shock, you.” By the second sentence, the alveoli in my lungs filled with sludge, and breathing became difficult.

There I was, 35 years old, up the duff, about to become a child of divorce.

Naturally, my grades in school would slip due to all the hookey I would be playing as a result of my need to act out, a consequence of my feeling that my parents’ break-up was all my fault, which would mean I’d probably be hung over the day I took my SATs, and I’d never gain admission into a spendy private liberal arts college!

Or, more accurately, what with my advanced age, maybe I’d start refusing to clip coupons, pay taxes, and shovel the snow off my sidewalk after big storms. That’d drive home to dear old Ma and Pa the depth of the damage they’d inflicted!

My immediate reaction to this announcement that my mother had filed for divorce from me dear da–and informed me through mail in the age of telephone!–was, “What if this letter hadn’t arrived today? Mom will be here in an hour. Would she have gotten out of the car, sized up my body language, and then just fished around (‘So, how’s GrandGirl? Your pregnancy going well? Get any interesting mail lately? Great weather here by the lake!’) until it became clear that I didn’t yet know? And then, tomorrow, when the mail is delivered, would she excuse herself to the bathroom until the rustling sound of papers stopped, and the sound of bereft wailing began? Then she’d know I had read her note, and she could emerge from the bathroom, asking again, ‘Get any interesting mail lately?'”

But I got the letter that day, just before her arrival. I started sobbing immediately. An hour later, when she and my aunt pulled up in front of the house, I marched outside, grabbed her in a big hug and said, “I can’t pretend any niceties here. I just got your letter. And I’m so sad.”

“I am too,” she responded, falling into my arms. The rest of that night saw us on the couch, talking through this earth-shattering move she’d made.

To summarize my mother’s feelings: my father was not an expressive or demonstrative man; for forty years, she had felt unloved; she had tried to communicate her distress to him, but nothing ever changed; she had decided she’d be better off living alone than living with someone yet feeling so lonely.

I got all that. What made for a delightful and consistent father did not necessarily add up to marital bliss. I got it.

During our couch therapy that night, I told Mom that no one could find her happiness but her, and no one could go after it but her. So she should do what she needed to do. I also told her I was sorry for the pain she’d gone through all those years and in coming to the Ground Zero that signaled her readiness to make things change.

We pretty much ended up having a nice visit.

And yet.

I felt broken for my father, a quiet, gentle Finn defined by his reserve and thoughtfulness. I felt broken for his lack of representation during The Airing of the Grievances. I felt broken because his health was dismal, and he was 67, and he now faced his Golden Years alone. Personally, I felt broken because I’d just discovered, waaaaaaaay after the fact, that the story of my growing up years was a myth–I hadn’t actually grown up in a reasonably-happy, well-adjusted household but rather in a house of ache and missed connections and settling. Good thing I had been too busy watching re-runs of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES to notice any genuine human pain loitering there in the kitchen.

And on some level, I was broken that the child growing inside of me would never bask in the heady collective adoration of Gampy and Gammy. He would never sit between them on a porch swing, or on a couch, encircled by their palpable affection. There would be no circles of love at all, just straight lines between individuals.

After my mother’s visit, things got very sticky very fast. Mom and Dad continued to live in their house for another couple of months, until Mom moved into a little apartment and Dad into an independent-living home for seniors. We visited them during those last weeks together in their house, popping in on our way back to Minnesota from a wedding in Colorado. We brought with us a friend who was about to move to the Pacific Northwest, a friend who needed to outfit his new kitchen. And I’m here to tell you that, if you ever need to outfit your kitchen, stopping by the home of divorcing people is a pretty good strategy. They each are sure they need only one plate, fork, and glass. The rest? Friend can box up and take to his new life of friends and romance.

Staying in that house was tense. Awful. I didn’t know who felt how, who had been a part of which discussion, who needed help, or who didn’t want me to splinter a brave facade.

Then the news slipped out that my mom had actually been seeing someone else–not a physical affair yet, but an emotional one, made up of letters and phone calls exchanged behind my father’s back.

Gentle readers, my parents were church people. They had, under the banner of heaven, judged others for moral failings. They had, in the way of organized religion, pulled self-righteousness around them like an L.L. Bean Barn Jacket (color: Sandstone Pyramid; size: Extra Large).

Don’t get me wrong: my parents had always been tolerant, inclusive people, in terms of a worldview. But the soap opera aspect of my 67-year-old mother striking up a relationship with a guy she’d gone to high school with–and without ever telling my dad (that eventually became my job, when he questioned me directly, as did telling my brother and sister; my mother then asked what their reactions had been. Er, not so good)–was the most unexpected. Who knew our sleppy little hamlet of Pine Valley had been rife with divorce and infidelity and anger all those years? Suddenly, that summer, it seemed no one was without sin.

Well, except my dad, unless consistently trying one’s hardest is a sin. In the middle of all the ensuing stone throwing–my mom towards my dad (she needed to do that to work up the courage to follow through and to rationalize her right to do what needed no rationalization); my mom towards us kids (creating wounds that will never heal); us kids toward my mom; in some instances, us kids towards each other–the only one who never picked up a rock, the only one who wished fervently that everyone would just back off the hail of pebbles, was my dad.

Even though he couldn’t give my mom what she needed, he was the best of men.

Before my little family quit that tense visit in Montana, we spent a morning driving around Billings with my dad, having me added to all bank and legal documents as his new co-signer, since he would no longer have a wife. At the end of our trips around town, we stood in a bank parking lot, trying to find the right way to cap off seing each other in such a bewildering, foreign time. Before that day, I had seen my dad cry once before, at his mother’s funeral. In the parking lot, for the second time, I saw, felt him cry, as he came into my arms, and I held him against my thumping belly. He sobbed and sobbed. So did I. So did the onlooking Groom. Girl pointed at birds in the sky. He sobbed on. Finally, all I could whisper in his ear, so conscious of his unflagging reliability, his dependability, his constancy, was, “You deserve better than this.”

They each moved into their new, separate homes in early September. My brother, in the military and assigned to a base in Japan, flew home to help with the monumental garage sale and to march them each to a financial advisor. During that time, Mom took her new relationship to a deeper level. Dad, an extreme introvert, ate in a cafeteria, amongst strangers. He made plans to buy us a larger house in Duluth and to take over living in our smaller one, to ease our double mortgage plight.

Then, one night in November, he called 911, complaining that he couldn’t breathe. That was the last time he lived in a home, such as it was there in the senior center, his “home” of two months. That was the last time he wasn’t being ministered to by unfamiliar, clinical hands, save my sister’s. That was the last day his life held anything like predictability.

For the next three months, he was in the hospital, being discharged only briefly to rehabilitation facilities before re-entering the hospital. As his lungs and heart declined, we had some close calls, a scary night of intubation and the doctor on the phone with me at 11 p.m., telling me to call my siblings.

But he recovered enough to still have hope of returning to a life of regularity. During all of this, I was unable to travel due to an impending due date, and my brother was across the world in Japan. Heroically, and I don’t use that word easily, my sister single-handedly walked with him to the grave, using up all her vacation days plus some, driving and flying back and forth between Denver and Billings, sometimes twice a week. She may have her foibles, as do we all, but I’m never forgetting how capably she carried him for all of us.

Three months after he first called 911, my dad died. On that morning, at about 5:30 a.m., he was in his first full day at a new rehabilitation center, and he had called in a worker, a stranger, to ask for help turning over. In that action of turning over, his last gasp was forced out.

And that was it.

My sister was in Denver.

My brother and his family (my sister-in-law seven months pregnant herself) were in the middle of the long trip from Japan to Montana, having realized the now-or-never nature of his decline. I reached them by phone during their layover in Detroit and broke the news. I’ve never been part of a more horrible phone conversation, and I’ll never forget my sister-in-law’s voice in the background, keening, “What do you mean he’s dead? How can he be dead? But we’re so close.” And over that, I heard the voice of my niece, my dad’s first grandchild, then five years old, questioning, “Grandpa Don is dead? Daddy? Daddy? Is Grandpa Don dead? Daddy, is your daddy dead?”

I, having just given birth to Wee Niblet during the worst day of my life on January 17th, was in heavy recovery. And then the date of the worst day of my life changed. It became February 2nd, the day my daddy died.

So this man–who lived out his life a mere 40 miles away from the ranch where he had been raised, who taught at the same college for 35 years, who was a fixture in his recliner–died, alone, amongst people who had to check a chart to call him by name, in a room that had been home for 12 hours. That will always slice me in two.

My enduring grief over the nature of his death is assuaged a bit when I remember that, although he never saw the Wee Niblet in person, he did get to see pictures and did have a chance to tell me how proud and overwhelmed he was to have such a lovely grandson (and, in his typical generous fashion, he offered to send a cheque so I could hire some “help” during my torturous recovery from the delivery).

I don’t know if there is a heaven, but I know now why people need the notion of one. If there is one, my dad is there, in his easy chair, listening to choral music directed by Robert Shaw, surrounded by photos all four of his grandchildren, photos that show them thriving and embraced by love.

Indeed, my dad didn’t get his happy ending.

My mom’s still working on hers.


So, you see, my second pregnancy wasn’t at all about me.

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