I was seven-teen when we met. He was thirty-one. When I was almost twenty, we got married. I thought that he would help me achieve the safe, stable family life I was convinced I wanted. He said he would. He said he wanted that as well. To this union, two were born. YM arrived a bit over two years and YM followed in another three.
Infancy and early toddler years were pretty close to bliss. Hard work, but fun. The dad was fully invested and involved. He was positively giddy over the first pair of jeans and navy blue hoodie for the boy and the first pink and white frock for the girl.
As time went on and the clothing, feeding and nurturing of two young people became harder, especially in the wake of (his) joblessness and financial fall-outs. The novelty waned. It's too simplistic and unfair to say that he lost interest. It was much more complicated than that. Yet, I was determined to make it work.
His day-to-day enthusiasm and participation dwindled. He 'forgot' to go to games, plays, concerts or any of the other thousands of things kids are involved in when growing up. He once remarked that they were in too much stuff. Believe me, they were the least scheduled kids in the cul-de-sac. I fought, pleaded for an explanation and more.
YL the more outwardly emotional and vocal of the two wanted to know why he didn't love them. I did my level best to continue to sing his praises. I know what it's like to have a dad go missing, in any sense of the word. I tried to assure her that he did, that his expressions were different from mine. She eventually stopped buying what I was selling.
I could and did accept much during our marriage. This family was (is) the most important thing in my life. I committed myself, body and soul to making it work. The look in their eyes when we would return from some game or event, only to find him vegged out in front of the TV, tore me apart.
We were together for sixteen years. Even though the last few years were pretty divisive, the eventual separation and divorce was hard on YM and YL, not made any easier by his re-marriage a few months later.
He's recovering from a stroke. His wife put him in a nursing home. He is but a shell of himself, I'm told. The kids go see him, together, but they support each other. Whenever they return from a visit they are very quiet. I've pulled out photos, videos and spark stories of the better times. I hope this is enough to sustain them, to help them remember that while he loves differently, he did (does) love them. I hope this is enough, for he is after all, their dad.