Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Widower Father's Lament

Some of "my people" Including The Favorite Son, me,
"Louis," Rob Rooney, and Rob's Dad
If you’re even a casual reader of The Single Father’s Guide Blog, the next thing I'm about to write will be redundant. For some reason, though, I feel obligated to include it.

And, here it is. Slightly more than one in 20 single fathers is a widower. The number is actually just about 6%. This is the subgroup of single dads to which I belong.

My late wife, Lori, was diagnosed in 2003 with occult metastatic breast cancer when she was six months pregnant with The Favorite Son (TFS). That mother-fucker (the cancer, not TFS) took Lori ten months later, leaving her two Beautiful Daughters, seven and four years old, respectively, and seven-month old TFS without a mother and Yours Truly.

So, I don’t think I wear my emotions on my sleeve or allow one, albeit significant event in the past, define me. I don’t think I write disproportionately to widower single fathers, but I do, admittedly include a post written directly to or about widower single dads.

That said, TFS and I spent a little bit of time in Missouri “with my people,” which is the way a former neighbor, Phyllis Kaminsky, used to refer to them. The trip included a stop at Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh to watch the Cardinals and another stop in Indianapolis at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum. While TFS enjoyed some quality time with his grandparents, I met the Second Beautiful Daughter (SBD) in New Orleans and helped her move into her dorm. Prior to returning to New York, TFS and I made the trip to Columbia, Missouri and had dinner and shopped with the First Beautiful Daughter (FBD), who is a junior at the University of Missouri.
First Beautiful Daughter: KD, now RA.

As I unloaded the contents of my car on Broadway Street in New Orleans, picked up the boxes we’d shipped from the FedEx trailer, and unpacked clothes, supplies, sundries, pictures, mattress pad, sheets, pillow cases, and comforter, I was overwhelmed with the same emotion I felt when I visited her sister a few days later at MIZZOU.

After two years as a Kappa Delta and living in the sorority house during her sophomore year, FBD took a position as a resident assistant (RA). Consistent with her independent and confident personality, FBD has taken responsibility for herself and her success by taking a job that would pay room/board expenses while she finishes her undergraduate degree.

TFS started at a new school. Understandably, TFS was nervous on his first day, but maintained a stiff upper lip. He even giggled about the school uniform; an enthusiastic supporter of the Commander in Chief, TFS joked before he left for school, “I feel like Donald Trump.”

Shh. I'm Batman, but it is The Second Beautiful
Daughter who is Incredi-Girl.
What I felt on those three days with each my incredible, unique, independent young adults can be clustered into two emotions. First, I am incredibly proud of the way each of my three children have become such wonderful people. My first daughter has made a point of establishing her independence and, with Missouri Heritage Scholarship, her RA job, and a work/study job, is doing just that while maintaining a grade point average north of 3.5. The SBD set her sights on her goal of attending Tulane University and she studied, worked with a tutor, and earned nearly a 90% scholarship. My son has always had something to which a lot of people call “intangibles.” Sharp-witted and funny, he’s been a likable leader among his peers. Both figuratively and literally, TFS has always been fearless and “played bigger” than he is.

The Favorite Son: Future Politician?

For all of these reasons and more, I was something more than gratified by the way my children have grown up so far. But, there was something else I felt, as well. Frankly, I was angry and resentful that they couldn’t have also shared these moments with their mother. It just wasn’t (and isn’t) fair to them that when one would look over to the sideline during a game, out into the audience at a school play or an award ceremony, or after school to share a good grade on a quiz or test, that Lori wasn’t there to share it.

No, I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. What possible reason could there be for two little girls, seven and four years old, and a baby boy to have to grow up without a mother’s love? Yeah, I know it isn’t rational to have resentment or anger for something that happened so far out of my control. It’s like resenting the weather. (Ironically, Hurricane Irma and the ocean storm surge is pounding Florida as I write. Maybe, I can blame global warming, too.) Feelings of anger and resentment are a natural process that is clearly out of anyone’s control are irrational, but who ever said emotions have to be rational?


Well, that’s my story. That’s a widower’s lament for his children. There’s no punchline. Maybe, there isn’t even a moral other than, perhaps, life goes on until it doesn’t. Even then, life still goes on and we have to do the best with what we’ve got. With any luck, we do.

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