Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor



Ringo Starr did it.  Cheryl Crow and Kid Rock did it.  Def Leppard rocked their career into legendary status with it.  But perhaps Nickelback with lead singer Chad Kroeger did it best, or at least wrote the best lyrics.

“Look at this photograph every time I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red?  And what the hell is on Joey’s head?
And this is where I grew up I think the present owner fixed it up
I never knew we’d ever went without the second floor is hard for sneaking out

And this is where I went to school most of the time had better things to do
Criminal record says I broke in twice I must have done it half a dozen times
I wonder if it’s too late should I go back and try to graduate?
Life’s better now than it was back then if I was them I wouldn’t let me in

Every memory of looking out the back door I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor
It’s hard to say it, time to say it goodbye, goodbye.
Every memory of walking out the front door I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for
It’s hard to say it, time to say it goodbye, goodbye.

Remember the old arcade blew every dollar that we ever made
The cops hated us hangin’ out they say somebody went and burned it down
We used to listen to the radio and sing along with every song we know
We said someday we’d find out how it feels to sing to more than just the steering wheel

Kim’s the first girl I kissed I was so nervous that I nearly missed
She’s had a couple of kids since then I haven’t seen her since god knows when

I miss that town I miss the faces you can’t erase
You can’t replace it I miss it now I can’t believe it
So hard to stay too hard to leave it
If I could I relive those days I know the one thing that would never change”   Photograph by Nickelback

So, why I am quoting Chad Kroeger today?  Long before I filed for divorce, or even considered it, right from the day I adopted my oldest daughter, I wanted to make sure that I took enough pictures of what would eventually be both of my daughters.  There was only one flaw in my idea.  I was constantly on the other side of the lens.  But as I have published here, I was able to manage quite a few photos of the three of us.  And yes, there are probably thousands of just them either by themselves or with each other.

This weekend, I have been working on a special project.  And very soon, it became very evident of just how critical my concerns of photos with my daughter would become.

9787_947146145310518_70914225155214279_n dad7 dad8

You are looking at the three only known photographs of me with my father when I was a child.  I have checked with various relatives and these were the only ones that could be found.  The only thing I have less of than memories of my childhood with him.  I have several of us in my adult years, but that was after we re-established our relationship with each other.

My father made a conscious decision at one point following my parents decision of just how involved, or distant he was going to be with my sister and I.  It would be in my twenties before he and I would actually even begin to sit and talk with each other, and another decade or so later before our relationship would come back to the point where father and son would never be kept from each other again.  But to this day, it is not known why he made the decision that he did, and he took it to his grave.

Why am I writing about this now?  A friend of mine posted a link on her Facebook wall called “The Reason This Dad Lies To His Daughter Every Day.”

It is a very touching video of a father reading a note that was written by his daughter complimenting him on the many great qualities of her father.  But clearly the father has a secret.  And later in the note, he discovers that his daughter knows the truth.  The video will leave you in tears.  I know it did me.

So here I am, in the middle of a divorce, with two young girls myself.  My estranged wife and I have very different opinions of how the kids should be told things when it comes to the divorce.  I have always been of the mindset that kids are kids, and should only have to deal with kid-level issues.  But as is evident by the three photos above, keeping things hidden from them is definitely not the answer either.  I can count at least eighteen years (not including the sporatic appearances from him) that I have no answers, no memories.

And clearly, as the video shows, and while not necessarily a video about a divorce situation, the things the father is hiding from his daughter, and there is no denying that he is trying to protect her, she would eventually discover the truth anyway.  But fortunately for him, she is mature enough to understand why.

But in discussing adult issues with children, especially divorce, care needs to be given, because at no time, can or should a child ever feel that they are the reason behind the divorce.  But clearly, there is no way that my children should ever hear anything that is going on at the present time.  And so I often find myself walking a very thin line, protecting them from what they do not need to know, while satisfying their want to know.  But I have chosen to tell them the truth when asked certain questions, and with others, give my patented response (which I used before getting divorced also), “it’s a grown-up thing…let the grown-up handle it.”

I know that I have limited time to get things taken care of before both of my daughters begin to “fill in the blanks” themselves.  But one thing that I have learned from the past, my father, is what “absence” can take away from parent and child.  So for now, I take plenty of photos every moment that I get.  I make sure that they hear my voice every day, and normally, we see each other via Facetime or Tango.  But at no point, will they ever feel forgotten or loved, as I remind them every night that I speak to them how much I love them… and how much I miss them.


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