I am going to do something I do not believe I have done yet, in the history of “Paul’s Heart.” It is definitely long overdue. This is my mother, Barbara, pictured along with my two daughters, HER granddaughters.
There is a lot of historical events between my mother and I over the years, some good… some not so good. My mother had to work second shift to support my sister and I, which left us in the care of my grandmother during the week. In my teen years, I occasionally had issues dealing with “step parenting” after she married to someone other than my biological father. One quick side note, a comical one, she remarried another “Edelman”, but of absolutely no relation. She obviously saved money on monogrammed items not having to change anything, but the most awkward event came during my first wedding, where at the reception, and the time came to introduce the groom’s family…
“Entering the room now is the groom’s family, mother of the groom Barbara Edelman, and she is escorted by her husband John Edelman.”
Of course everyone clapped. And then this…
“Next is the father of the groom, Paul Edelman and he is accompanied by his wife Shirley.” Wait for it… and we did. The applause finally started about three seconds later when my bride’s extended family, and my non-family guests realized that I had stepparents. Being a former disc jockey myself, and having done hundreds of wedding receptions, I never ran into this situation myself. Looking back, I can still chuckle about it.
But during the second half of my life, I cannot say enough about the support that I have received and continue to receive from my mother. It is hard enough for a parent to endure even one crisis involving their child. She has gone from one crisis to another. She has been there with me from my cancer diagnosis, my life-saving emergency heart bypass surgery, 2 near fatal cases of septic pneumonia, and now my second divorce. My mother’s concern and love has never waivered. And to be perfectly honest, also during these times she has also not been afraid to contradict my actions. My mother believes in me, and it is not just because she is my mother.
My parents divorced when I was around 3 years of age. And I want to state clearly, I have no idea why the divorce took place, nor do I want to know. It is of no benefit to me, nor has it ever been. During the process, all that mattered, was that the children were kept out of the middle of the proceedings and any aftermath. Children were never, and should never be collateral damage.
My maternal grandmother, her sister, my uncles… I never heard anything bad about my father, nor the reason for the divorce. My paternal grandfather, my dad’s siblings… I never heard anything bad about my mother., nor the reason for the divorce. My sister and I were never restricted from seeing either one of our surviving grandparents or family members.
Now in my situation, it is a little more tricky, because I live so far away from my daughters. But I do try to arrange visits with my mother and sister for my daughters. My daughters love their cousins and want to continue seeing them. When I do get to see my daughters, they may not always get the chance to visit with them, because my daughters must travel to visit me, and time would probably not allow a drive-by visit.
So I count on the old court adage, “do what is in the best interest of the children.” My mother got to enjoy my daughters’ school choral concert (I wrote about the concert back in December, that I go to watch it live via Tango). And not too long after that, my daughters go to spend the day with my mother, sister, and cousins. Games were played, a movie watched, and enjoyed some yummy food. They had a blast.
And that is what I want to give my mother credit for. She knows of nearly every detail of the divorce, and continues to be impartial, while still offering me support. There is no conversation with the girls about the divorce process. And the only mention of me is to tell my daughters how much my mother knows that I love them. With me living so far away, all she wants is to be able to see her granddaughters, and because my mother has not interfered with the divorce process, she has made visits successful, and about the girls. Visits with their paternal grandmother are in the best interest of the girls.
Look, in the divorce world, it is hard enough getting the parents to work things out amicably, especially when one parent continues to drive a “dagger” through the heart of the process, a win at all costs. But only recently are grandparents finally getting rights to see their grandchildren. The laws are vague because of terminology, instead of using “visitation”, the courts want to use custody, which in many cases, it is not about the grandchild staying with the grandparent, but only for there to be allowed visits. And while the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the parental rights over the grandparents (Troxel v. Granville 2000 – a 3-3 decision by the way), it was clearly a vague resolution, saying that it was never made clear through the Washington State Supreme Court that “harm” would come to the children by the grandparents being denied the right to see the children. The decision would be left up to “fit” parents, what is in the best interest of the children. Of course you can see how that works… with a couple divorcing or separating.
But in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court decision was challenged in 2006 in Hiller v. Fausey. The case involved an 11 year-old boy whose mother died, and the father refused to let the maternal grandmother visit with the boy. It was established that the boy had been close to his grandmother prior to the mother’s death, and thus, it was in the best interest, and decided by the court, to allow the grandmother to see her grandson.
While it was a victory, it should not come down to a court to decide what is best for a child. But some feel it is best to go that route as if to prove something so pointless, that the actions clearly are not only not in the best interests of the child, but only self-serving for the objecting parent.
Bottom line, if forced, the courts will order what is best for the children’s interests.
Look, I loved my grandmother.
I only wish that she would have had the chance to meet my daughters. My girls would have loved her, and currently would have been taller than my grandmother.
But every child, when given the chance to be with their grandparents, grows a bond that has a bigger impact on a child than one can ever imagine. And I saw this every time that my daughters visited with my mother and my sister and her family. And it is my hope that the arrangements that we currently have, allow our daughters to have those visits. As a courts agree, it is in the best interests of the children.