Archive for the ‘The back story’ Category

Well I recently got B’s new phone number. It’s been over a year since I had a working number for her and just the idea of being able to call or text her is pretty exciting. In the past if I called M she would let it go to voice mail or on the rare occasion she did answer, she’d say, “I’ll let her know you called.” Honestly I am not expecting much of anything to change, but at least now I can call and hear her voice…even if only on voice mail. Side note: We have a consult with the court ordered counselor!

I’ve talked about the fact that I think a lot of ingredients and a lot of people contributed to B being in the emotional place that she is. I think taking a look at all the major players is a good idea. I know that my parents being married for over forty years has effected my outlook on love as well as all the relationships in my life. To start with we have B’s biological mother. Strange side note, she and M are now friends! They’ve always hated one another….so strange. Ok, back on track. We’ll call the womb donor R.

R and I met in high school and started doing all the things we shouldn’t have done. It was a little hard not to. Her home life was just ridiculous. Her parents were long divorced, but her mother had just gotten custody of her. R basically had gone from a religious nut-job of a father to a no rules, drunk mother. I actually bought food for the house and stayed late into the wee hours on many occasions so that she and her younger sister weren’t alone and had food. All of which were insane considering the fact that R’s mother and step father made good money. He was a pilot and she worked in the IT industry. The problem was that mom was out partying/whoring around (the woman tried to seduce me not once but four times), and step dad was working all the time literally. This was her mother’s fourth marriage by her own choice and she wasn’t even close to 40 yet. I felt the need to be rescuer and white knight, which was a bad move. You can see where a teen girl might get a little screwed up in that type of situation. It really brought out the worst in R. She was selfish, lazy, and generally not really that nice of a person. The issue was that I loved her (17YR OLD LOVE ANYWAY) and felt responsible for her. Notice I say I loved her, and not that I was in love with her. There is a huge difference and I was too young to understand that. Shortly after graduation, B was on her way into the world. Three months along and in a wedding dress, and for all the wrong reasons on both sides. She needed a meal ticket and I felt like I needed to take care of her. Within a year of marriage R and I were not even friends and room mates was as close to a relationship as you could describe what we had. Looking back I know postpartum depression was an issue, but at twenty I couldn’t spell it much less understand it.  A couple of years later, her mother died in an alcohol related motorcycle crash and her hole grew even deeper. B was a constant source of stress for her and I was just there. To be fair, I had a couple of serious car accidents during the time we were married and that too was a huge stress in our lives. The short version is that we never should have married, I should have asked for custody of my child and gone about life. B never saw love or affection from R for the first four years of her life. I think the divorce was a huge relief for R, and she was able to pursue things for herself and try to find happiness. She did all those things, and gave me full custody of B and within a year, she stopped seeing B. I held her feet to the fire and made her do things correctly, and it was just too hard on her. Several years later R would give up all parental rights. Enter M….

M was the product of a broken marriage and had very little contact with her biological father. She and her step father were close, but it was a bit of a strange relationship. Let’s just say there are several things about the man that made me question his character and question the childhood experiences of M. The relationship is just “different”. I’m not making any accusations, but the signs were and are there. M’s mother was an addict the first time I met her and to my knowledge still is. There are three sisters and the whole family dynamic is volatile and based on who can use the other the most. It was bad enough that M had moved out prior to turning 18 just to get out. Not the best background and a huge red flag, but I had hopes that she had risen above it. She had unfortunately not and is very happy being who and what she is. M and I did have several good years, but I truly think she was playing house. She was trying desperately to be the person she was expected to be by me and my family. The problem is that she never was that person and the strain was too much to bear. You can’t pretend forever and she is no exception. By the last few years the change was obvious and she tried less and less to convince anyone of who she was. At this point she doesn’t even try to put on a front to my knowledge. Every time we have contact, she is all games, all lies, and all “what can I get out of this situation”. I’ve said an awful lot about M in previous posts, so I won’t take up any more space for her here. You have a pretty damn good idea of who she is and what her character is. Not to mention I get tired of even thinking about her.

Now, for some self examination. This should be fun, NOT! I’m  a pretty decent guy by most accounts, but I have spent most of my life rebelling against one thing or another. For the most part I have run from God as often as possible. You see, my dad is an ordained baptist preacher and I didn’t want any part of that. Most of my teens were spent pursuing what made me happy or what I enjoyed. Mostly girls and a few good fights from time to time.  Sex and fights are  pretty fun past times, but both have serious consequences. Brianna was not the consequence of a fight obviously.  Being a decent guy, I wanted to do the right thing and hence my white knight complex. Doing the right thing means a lot of different things depending on the situation and I was too young to understand there were options available to me. I did my best to be a good husband and father, but the husband part was out of my hands. It was a dead relationship from the start and the dysfunction was very obvious.  From early on B was the victim of the dysfunction and felt the constant stress. I worked a lot to survive both financially and emotionally. The more time I spent away the more the grass looked greener. So I mowed a few lawns over the years and then had to deal with the guilt I felt. Dysfunctional or not I was married and it ate away at my soul to be that person, “that guy”. I think on the whole I was a good father, but a really shitty husband. The divorce from R was such a blessing for us both and was healthy for not only us but B as well. I then hooked up with M and like I said for a while it was good. My white knight complex is what got me in trouble yet again by ignoring all the big red flags. I take responsibility for the influence that M has on B . I also take full responsibility for the abandonment that B feels from not having R in her life. So I completely acknowledge my role here. This is all partially my fault and I know it. I don’t beat myself up because at the times I made those decisions I wasn’t mature either emotionally or spiritually. The past is just that and you learn from it an do your best to overcome the consequences of your actions. I hate that B has to be a victim of my decisions and would give my life to change it all, but it isn’t possible and I have to live with it. You see if I had made better choices, B wouldn’t feel abandoned by R and wouldn’t cling so tightly to M because of those feelings.

So the three parental figures in her life have thoroughly screwed up B’s emotional health! However, B is making her own choices now and shares a bit of blame as well. Most stories have two sides, but this one has four. So there ya have it. The highlights of the players in this sordid mess we have made of my daughter’s life.

I know there are those that read my blog and wonder how I ever let this happen. How could a loving father become estranged from his daughter in such a dramatic way. My answer is that it is easier than you think for drastic life changes to occur before you ever see it coming.  I certainly never could have imagined that “Daddy’s Little Girl” would turn against me and want nothing to do with me, but she has. From the time of her birth, literally, B and I were extremely close. Just my opinion, but even closer than most father’s and daughters.  B’s womb donor, as I refer to her, was ill equipped for motherhood and married life. She had her emotional issues and her own personal problems. That left me as the main care giver as well as the one showing B affection. It was a role that I relished and loved every moment of. I may be big, bad and tattooed but I’ve always been very sensitive as well. It really wasn’t hard for me to be a father and I really loved the role. The womb donor, not so much. She wasn’t much of a wife or a mother, but when we divorced it did leave a hole that was in need of filling in both my life and B’s. I had custody, and was receiving child support because I had B full time. The problem was my job. I was a cop and my family really had to step in and help.

I won’t pull punches, there was a girl I was involved with and had been for a while when the womb donor and I separated. After a few months, she decided to step up to the plate. Here is where M enters the picture as well as B’s life. She was wonderful with B and I saw my daughter blossom under her care. Of course my heart was gone, completely stolen. If she loved my kid that much, how could I not love her? On went the blinders and out went common sense. There were a lot of warning signs, and a a few neon stop signs that I totally ignored before we married. I should have at least paused, but I didn’t. Her broken home, the way we got together, her basic out look on love and relationships should have told me to put on the brakes. The problem was I was lonely, hurt and needed love as much as my little girl did. It’s how the mistakes started, but they didn’t end there. I think M enjoyed the role and was getting what she wanted from her life. She had a husband and child that adored her, a new car, a new house, and really didn’t want for much. Not a bad deal for her by most accounts.

Me on the other hand, I had issues. I was working my ass off and spending less and less time at home. I had to keep up, and keep moving so I was around less and less for B. I became angry when M became jealous. You see wearing a badge isn’t without it’s peril and I don’t mean guns and knives. Women literally throw themselves at you. M knew this because she had been one of them, and it’s how we got started. She also knew that I obviously wasn’t immune to them, hence her jealousy. I was angry because she was jealous and I felt like the odd man out at home. It was a combination of ingredients that were forming the perfect storm. The marriage was on the decline, but things changed dramatically. In 2005 I faced major health issues. Those issues took me out of the loop even more and I literally only saw B when she got home in the evenings after school and cheer leading. I pretty much sat at home for over a year. Every thing had changed and not for the better. Less money, less time, and more stress was pushing an already weak marriage to the breaking point. I had become the insecure one and her insecurities hit a peak when I finally got back out into the world.

During all this I wasn’t able to spend the time with B that we had both been accustomed to. M had become the major influence in her life. In a lot of cases I was left to play the heavy when it came time for discipline and the like. I had gone from being B’s everything to a side note in her life, but I didn’t realize how that would come to haunt me in the future. From the moment of our separation,  I feel like I was portrayed as the “bad guy.” Honestly, anyone with any common sense would have seen the writing on the wall, but I didn’t. I didn’t even see my child being intentionally pulled from my arms. It’s clear now that the end of the marriage was calculated and a working plan for a rather long time. M had become unsatisfied with me in general as well as finances and life. To put it plainly, she was tired of trying and was finished. For some unknown reason she was angry with me for not living up to her ideals. For years all the time it was Mommy and B against Daddy. It didn’t matter if it were a board game or an inside joke. Speaking of jokes, there was the one where they both talked about Mommy’s “boyfriend” (we were still very married at the time) and made constant jokes about it. You see for years it was obvious that M was setting a tone of making me the odd man out. It was ok not to include me, it was ok to make jokes at the expense of my feelings. M was teaching B not to take my feelings into consideration, she was teaching her not to respect me as a parent or as an authority figure.

By the time we divorced it was very easy to transition into a Mommy vs Daddy mentality for B. It was also very easy for her to pick sides. It had been her and her mother against me for years already even if it were just a joke at the time. When a tone is set in any relationship it is easy to maintain rather than to change. To change takes strength and courage that most grown ups don’t have. Take battered wife syndrome for example. A wife who is beaten daily will defend the abuser, her husband at all costs. I saw it time and time again in police work. If adults can’t see things clearly and be that strong, how can I expect a child to? It’s been four years now and even with all the back story, it still took until last year for the estrangement to occur. I think B did a valiant job of standing her ground until she grew tired and I remarried. My marriage gave me a safety net and she knew I ‘d be alright. She saw that I now had others in my life to fill the void she would leave. I don’t believe all this went through her head at her age in a black and white form. It is more based on feelings and decisions or lack of decisions as well as the reactions to them.

You see, the estrangement started long before there were any custody issues or we were even divorced. B had been conditioned for so long that when the divorce came, and then her mother ramped up the drama when I remarried…the decisions had already been made. B was caught in an unseen trap that I myself had been victim to. There were years that I was estranged from my family to varying degrees during my marriage. As a person, you make choices based on the information and feelings you have available. I don’t blame B for the choices she has made, nor will I ever hold them against her. I’ll just continue to love her and wait to welcome her back with open arms. I often wonder how any loving parent could allow this to happen, but you see it’s very easy when you want to see the best in the ones you love most.

 

So where we left off was where my ex was refusing to attend counseling for my daughter and we were falling into the hell of teenage behavior. By this time I was becoming increasingly aware that a war was being waged against me. I still don’t understand it and don’t care to.

By this point the relationship with my daughter is at best strained. There were actually a couple of occasions that I picked her up and within five minutes she was screaming at me or my wife and being completely disrespectful. On those occasions I calmly informed her that her behavior showed that she didn’t want to be with us and that it wouldn’t be tolerated. I then gave her the choice to re-boot and stay for her scheduled visit or decide to spend the time with her mother. I just refused to take the bait and be drawn into a debate or argument with a child. I also refused to spend my time repeatedly disciplining  a child that refused to change her behavior. The punishments weren’t working and were actually making things worse, no doubt due to discussions with her mother on how terrible I am (all of which were proved in an e-mail sent from the ex stating that her daughter should always be the center of the universe).  There came a point where I informed both my daughter and my ex that the counseling was a mandatory condition of her visits with me and that it had been advised by two separate counselors.

All I wanted was a healthy relationship with my child and a healthy family as a whole. Our youngest at this point was beginning to pick up on the actions of her sister and try them out. NOT GOOD! It was also causing undue stress between my wife and I. The fact of the matter is that it had become bad enough that we spent days discussing solutions and stressing over the visits. I had begun to have digestion issues and insomnia. It was just bad all around. As terrible as it sounds, it was almost a relief when my daughter refused to again go to counseling. I stood strong and told her that if she came here she would attend, her response was hat she didn’t want to come to my house ever! I tried to discuss things with my ex, but the e-mails went unanswered and the calls all went to voice mail, dead end!  Just prior to this, my ex had made the accusation that a family (my family) friend had an inappropriate conversation with our daughter via text. After investigating things, it was completely baseless. Had it been true, I would be in prison rather than typing this. The situation was getting so vile that I was beginning to fear what was coming next from her. She has proven to have the ability to purger herself without conscience, so I truly was becoming afraid of her next scheme.

I decided that the best course of action was to send texts and e-mails to my daughter at least once or twice a week. They all consisted on how much I loved and missed her as well as what was generally going on with life. I soon found out that they would not be returned. I was blocked from her Facebook account (that I didn’t approve of) and all communications from all members of my family were to be ignored. I was effectively cut off as were her grand parents, cousin, sister, and aunt. What the hell, REALLY? So for six months I sent e-mails weekly with no reply. Several of the e-mails were CC’ed to my ex so that she was in the loop on what was being said. Of course she saw no reason to respond to any of them or discuss the situation with me in any way.

In the past several months my wife and I began researching parental alienation. We bought books, searched the internet, and sought out information where ever we could find it. Turns out with what little information we have, this is a text book case. When I say what little information we have, I mean very little information. You see, my daughter was not allowed to discuss anything that occurred at her mother’s house with us. We have never been privy to any aspect of life when she is with her mother. It has been that way from the time I was asked to move out. Our life, my life, has always been an open book. At no point have I had anything to hide. The fact of the matter is I even discussed my marriage four months before it happened with my ex so that she wouldn’t be blind sided or think that I was hiding something. Hell, I offered to take her and her screw buddy to dinner so we all could get acquainted.

That pretty much brings us up to near present. The last month was spent figuring the best way to contact my daughter. Sounds rather dramatic to say that, but with no response from either of them… My sister actually attempted to contact my ex for a week before father’s day, a week!  Phone calls, e-mails, and she even went to her house and places that she and my daughter frequent. Nada, nothing, no response! I have had enough, I want to see my daughter damnit! So, I e-mailed my ex and waited. After a week of no reply I forwarded the e-mail again asking for a phone call if my daughter didn’t wish to see me. My ex then decided to set a date a month out that she would meet me so that I could see my daughter. Seriously? A month, just enough time for her to work her up and prepare her for the visit. I then received a novel in the form of an e-mail. It basically outlined why my daughter didn’t wish to see me and what a piece of shit I am, all in the wonderful words of my ex wife. No joke, the damn thing took twenty minutes to read and not one line of it was in any way truthful or helpful to the situation.

So now I sit and wait. I wait for the appointment with my attorney and hope the visit at the end of this month with my daughter occurs. I look forward to it and dread it all at the same time. I’m at a crossroads with what to do. Do I allow her to shun me and refuse visits? Or do I endanger my family’s sanity and the health of all my relationships to deal with one child? All while wondering what is up my ex’s sleeve. Do you try to force a child that wants nothing to do with you into a relationship? I know it is because of her mother’s influence that we are here, but she has also made choices, and she is fifteen.

Now that you have the back story, I want to review the last couple of years. This all was really a quiet, insidious under current that wasn’t something that I was ever aware of. Kids change and go through phases as they enter their teens and I honestly attributed a lot of the distance between my daughter and I to her maturing and entering her teens. As a general rule she has always been a daddy’s girl. If there was a good tv show on, she would snuggle up with me and settle in for the evening. If I left the house, the kid just had to ride with me, even if it was just a run to the grocery store or gas station. That all started to change and she became more ambivalent when it came to me in general. Like I said, I just figured she was getting older and it was a natural progression. Not to mention as she matured physically, I was becoming less and less comfortable simply because of the way people outside the family viewed what is and isn’t a healthy parent child relationship. So I wasn’t destroyed and was looking forward to having a sidekick that wanted to discuss life with me. I was really looking forward to imparting my life experiences and the hard lessons learned so that she would be better off than me. Again, I was naive to think that a teen would want any of my wisdom, but it was one of those parental ideals.

The relationship between my ex and I was passable, but not good. The normal “ex games” were par for the course. If your ex wasn’t a pain in the ass then they probably wouldn’t be you ex now would they? Everything was cordial when we saw each other and we were able to both be involved in school activities and such. Hell, we even sat together from time to time. It took me about a year before I really started dating with any real direction. Prior to that it was really to pass the time and not sit home alone bored out of my mind. After that first year I realized that there was life after “Two” and if the right person came along I should be open to another relationship.

That’s when there started to be some problems. Why it was cool for my ex to date and bring the guy she cheated on me with around my daughter, but I was horrible to move on with my life I will never understand. My daughter was fine with my dating but would have preferred that her mother and I were still married. She wanted me to be happy and by all appearances was happy that I was happy playing the field. She saw the me that was destroyed after the separation at the beginning of the divorce and to see me relaxed and enjoying life was a refreshing change for her. I had left the door open for my ex if the choice was made by her only because I felt it was what a good father should do. To hell with pride if it hurts the ones you are supposed to love and protect.

With that said, there came a time when I knew it was time to move on and close the doors to the past. It was the only way to set a good example for my daughter and find true happiness for myself. I actually had the conversation with my ex that it was time and that from that point on I was finished forever.  Shortly after that conversation my wife came back into my life. We had been childhood friends and I found her via a social media site. From the first conversation, I knew I was a goner! Within a month I had made a nine hour trip to see her and the kids and I was ready to talk marriage in the not to distant future. It was like no time had passed between us and the connection was deeper than anything I had ever imagined. So within a few months we were married and the whole crew had moved north to be in my neck of the woods. The idea of my moving was out of the question due to the lack of relationship between my ex and I and the hell it would have caused.

My daughter was so happy! She was part of my proposal and the wedding. The child was all smiles and was looking forward to the new family and the prospect of having the siblings that she had always wanted. There had been several discussions about the pending marriage and I believe that she was more than fine with it. In fact the first several months were great, she was enjoying her new sister and was convinced that my new wife was the most wonderful thing in the world. About six months in, we started to see unexplained behavior issues that we just didn’t understand. So off to the counselor we went. I wanted us all to be healthy and well adjusted in our new blended family. Alright I really need to back track, the behavior issues were not completely unexplainable. When I got married, my ex stopped returning my phone calls and e-mails went unanswered or days/weeks before there was any reply. She had also refused to meet my wife and refused to acknowledge her existence in general. There was zero communication or there was extremely high levels of tension when we did talk.

Truth is I still don’t understand why my ex is so angry. She asked me to move out, she cheated, and she asked for the divorce. The woman actually repeatedly told me how much she enjoyed her freedom every time she saw me. Apparently she just didn’t want me to move on. Once the counseling started I asked her to take part so that we could work together for the best interest of our daughter. She patently refused citing that the issue was between my daughter and I and had nothing to do with her. A statement that she still stands firm on. After only a few sessions, my daughter decided that she didn’t like being told that she was wrong, so she decided she would no longer attend! At fourteen she felt she had every right to call the shots. Nope, I don’t think so!

It became very evident that her mother was fueling that belief and we found out that she had started my daughter with another therapist and had not shared that information with me. Upon talking to the new counselor, she had been given a very one sided untruthful view of the situation. The new counselor felt the same as the first one did and asked my ex to come in and help with the sessions. My ex again patently refused! It was all becoming very clear.

During this whole process my daughter’s behavior continued to regress to a point where she was becoming borderline violent. My wife and I were at our wits end. The behavior was unacceptable and I refused to have it in my home, period. That is where the past several months started.

Looking back this all started years ago, but when you are in the eye of the storm you just don’t see things clearly. I’ll wrap it up here for this time but there is so much more to the story.

I started this blog at the urging of my wife. She said I needed a place to get everything out of my head. I tend to agree with her, and she is usually (read: always) smarter than I on most things. We as a family have been going through a lot recently. The situation is focused on me, but we face life as a family and not a set of individuals. Speaking of my family, I am the proud father of three great kids. I have a son that makes me so proud when he isn’t driving me insane. He has now started the adventures and trials of starting his own family and the joys of fatherhood himself. My second oldest has the handicap or blessing of being my biological daughter. We’ll get back to that shortly since this is the relationship that pushed me to blogging. Finally, There is our youngest who is the spitting image of her mother and Lil Miss Sassy. I love them all sooo much. Each of them is so different and bring me joy in so many different ways.

Back to the reason for this whole deal, My middle child. She is the only good thing that came from a short lived marriage shortly after high school. Her biological mother has chosen to not be present since she was around four years old. It’s a very long story, but she has been much better off without that influence in her life. As a twenty three year old father of a little girl, I felt completely unequipped to handle raising a little girl alone. Hence, my second marriage. I knew the situation could be better with my choice of women, but my baby girl needed a mother and I was crazy in love. Young and dumb as I was I entered into the worst decade of my life.

To rewind and give some perspective, I was raised the son of a minister and have always had very strict moral and ethical standards. Honestly I have not always lived up to my own standards a good bit of my life, but they were there none the less. I entered into both of those marriages with the full intent of being married for the rest of my life, they both had other plans. Looking back at the choices I made, it is obvious that the blame lies directly on my shoulder because of the horrible decisions that I made. I was young on both counts and at the time thought I knew it all and that all the consequences were mine and mine alone. I also thought I could pretty much handle anything, boy was I wrong! For a guy that doesn’t believe in divorce, I sure have become an old pro of it!

For the sake of clarity we will refer the the ex’s as “One” and “Two”. One was an extremely selfish person that was in no way equipped to be a mother or wife. The selfishness is a trait that my daughter inherited and that I have battled from the time she was a young child. Looking back, we should have never been married. I should have been wise enough to ask for custody of my unborn daughter and let her live her life. Unfortunately for all involved I wasn’t wise in any way shape or form. The marriage was more of a cohabiting of a residence between two people that didn’t really like one another. We pretty much paid the bills and that was the depth of the intimacy. I was left lonely and sad and doing things that no married man should be doing. I admit my faults and there were many.

The whole experience left me ripe to enter into another unhealthy situation. How unhealthy, I could have never known. Two was a very attractive, sweet, caring, and hard working woman by all accounts. Turns out that hard working was the only of her attributes that turned out to be true. Shortly after the “I DO’s” the ugly beast of jealousy reared its head. With in a few short years the marriage was severely sick. She had become controlling and emotionally abusive, while I became more and more determined to make it work. I didn’t want two failed marriages before the age of thirty and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my little girl needed a mother. I never realized just how sick I had become until the marriage had ended and I was able to get perspective on the relationship as a whole. If anyone were to ask me, I would never have said that I felt abused. I’m a big tattooed hard ass that has been in countless fights, been shot at, you name it. My profession of choice was even a field for tough guys that could handle everyone’s problems. To admit that love for both of the women in my life had made me weak enough to become what I became was unthinkable for me.

To condense the better part of a decade into a short paragraph, the marriage with “Two” ended in a spectacular manner. I was accused of all manner of horrible acts after discovering and documenting her infidelity. I had a series of health issues that had left me doubting myself and depressed, truly the lowest point in my life. Things turned very, very ugly when all the facts were brought to light and a custody battle ensued. To explain the whole custody issue, the parental rights of “One” had been terminated and “Two” had adopted my daughter during my health problems. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do. I never could have known the power I had just awarded her.

My first divorce was quick and painless, to be honest I was naive enough to thing the second would be the same. The first go round my attorney almost fainted when I brought her in to sign the divorce and custody paperwork! I could not have been more wrong about my second divorce. Two, began spreading rumors in the community where I was very prominent, and even made completely false legal accusations to gain leverage in the custody battle. I was broken and emotionally torn to ribbons and just didn’t have the ability to fight. She was awarded primary physical custody while I shared a 60/40 split. She had just won the first battle of a war that I wasn’t even aware was occurring.

After the dust settled it was obvious that my daughter was being forced to chose a side. I tried my best to be honest without making her mother look like a villain. I should have played dirty! My relationship with my little girl quickly turned from being healthy to being  a “what can you do for me?” situation. Her mother was catering to her and I was still trying to parent. I quickly became the bad guy. If you are a parent and haven’t heard of parental alienation, read up now! The whole thing has now spiraled out of control and I never saw it coming.

That is truly why I started this blog. I am now fighting for a relationship with a child that wants nothing to do with me, and of no fault of my own. It has become an all consuming ordeal that I could have never foreseen. Now you have the background and why I am here, so hopefully my next entry will bring you up to the near present and how we are handling life.