Sometimes I ponder past relationships in an attempt to evaluate where my life has been and where it is now. Having been through a few divorces, there are those that have been affected by my decisions and actions both in a positive and negative way. In using the word “divorce” in itself there is certain negative element involved, but one could say “I am glad that is over” and make it a positive, I guess, depending on the one making the statement.
As a young man my career, I was in the steel fabrication business. I can remember we would routinely walk on four inch wide steel beams well over a hundred feet off the ground without a second thought. Of course, at first, I was a little shaky and nervous, but, in a short time feeling young, bulletproof, and indestructible, it was business as usual. After a several years in an office, on the ground, without being on top of buildings, my confidence level changed dramatically. A time came that I had to return to the top of a steel frame building for an inspection and came to the realization of my mortality. This revelation became apparent to me in that I could actually be hurt, or even killed, if I fell! Earlier in my career, this never occurred to me. As you get older, wiser, more experienced, and mature the more you realize you are not the indestructible force you once thought you were.
I am proud of the fact that I have two wonderful daughters, but regret, due to divorce, that I was not as much a part of their life as I should have been. One of my girls makes no hesitation in the fact that she feels a great deal of animosity towards me. She was blessed with the beauty of her mother, but cursed with the sometimes moody and arrogance of her father. My youngest girl has some of the same resentment, but has a more laid back and gentle personality. Don’t get me wrong, she will certainly speak her mind from time to time, but remains gracious and thoughtful. Both girls are married and successful, but, more importantly, are great mothers and have great families.
My brothers and I are completely different in our personalities and lifestyle. My younger brother has been a great father and raised three boys into three very successful young men; I have told him so on several occasions. Although it is my opinion he has turned a mid-life crisis and moral reform into a word class art form, it still does not change my praise of his parenting skills. My older brother, through much turmoil, has also been a great father. He, as have we all, had his moments of pure stupidity, but was resilient enough realize where he should retain his focus. I would certainly applaud both of them.
Having come from a great southern family with high morals and values, why was my direction so different? I have asked myself this more and more the older I get. It just boils down to the fact that I wasn’t as mature as I should have been when I attempted to start a family. I allowed myself to become selfish and abandoned the very morals and values that I was brought up to believe. A very big mistake more and more young people make today. It is sad to grow older and feel yourself being more regretful than you ever thought possible with no one, other than yourself, to blame.
The opportunity to be a part of my two stepdaughter’s lives was itself a blessing. Being older and more mature, afforded me the pleasure to be more involved in their lives than I was with my own girls. I spend a lot of time with the younger of the two with sports, even coaching, and the hardships of surviving her teenage years. We had our problems, but she was a wonderful child. Looking back, she probably taught me more I taught her. She finished college and received her law degree and is, as she always has been, a joy to be around. At her graduation from undergraduate school, her father pulled me aside and paid me the ultimate compliment. He told me that he considered my influence on her to be positive in her personality and values and thanked me for my part in her life.
As I hear Sinatra sing, “Regrets, I have a few, but then again, too few to mention”, I hope I can say the same in a few years by being a better father and make a effort to “mend a few fences” with my girls. Although my actions may not have reflected my love for them, there was never a time it was in question.