Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For My Daddy

I posted something for my mother around Mother's Day, but I did not post anything about dads. My childhood was dysfunctional, but who's wasn't? My parents did a MUCH better job than their parents.

My father and I had periods of time when I was extremely angry at him. After my parent's were divorced, there would be weeks that we did not speak. Six years ago, my dad had a stroke while he was living in Texas. Luckily, I had already taken time off from work for another reason, and my mother agreed to drive me to Texas. We drove all night. I was thankful that my mom was able to swallow her pride and all bitterness, due to the divorce, to take me to my dad.

My father was in worse shape than I had anticipated. One side of his face drooped, his speech was slurred, he could not walk or use his left arm. He was left-handed, so he could not even feed himself. The stroke caused so many secondary issues, such as: seizures, confusion, horrible itching all over his body, and the worst anxiety I have ever witnessed. It was torture to watch my dad lay there in the hospital bed. The social worker in the hospital told me it would be near impossible to transport my dad to Omaha without thousands of dollars. He was unable to travel without a nurse or paramedic. A flight would have cost closed to $10,000, and an ambulance ride from Texas to Omaha would have cost nearly as much. I looked the Social worker in the eye, and asked what I should do. She said there was not much I could do.

The last words I said to my father before I left him to return home to my children, "I will NOT leave you here like this. I WILL get you to Omaha, somehow."

We both cried and hugged one another, and I could see the fear in his eyes. He was terrified he would be put in a home in Texas, left alone for the rest of his life. When I returned, I made call after call on my father's behalf. I heard of charities who flew patients, complete with medical care, free of charge. I found an organization to fly my father, lined up a hospital to take him BEFORE his Medicare/Medicaid had been approved (the hospital where I worked at the time), found him a doctor, and a facility to take him after he finished with rehab. I made a phone call to that social worker in Texas, and told her to never say never.

I was so relieved. I am posting some links to free medical flight websites:

Air Charity Network
Angel Flight NE
Angel Flight Inc
Air Care All

My dad was flown here, in rehab for a few months, followed by a place for head-injured people, and has been living in his own apartment for years. I assist with his finances, getting him to appointments, and renewing his insurance yearly. I was remarried last year, and the song my dad and I danced to was, I'll Stand by You, by The Pretenders. The song still makes me cry.

Something good came from the stroke. I got my daddy back, not just physically, but emotionally. I no longer held onto all of the pain and resentment, and when I looked at him I only saw love. I know now that my dad always did the best he could with the tools he had at the time, and he ALWAYS meant well. He would never knowingly hurt me. I am an only child, and I did not have a perfect childhood. I am grateful for the childhood I had, because so much of who I am now came from who I was and who my parents were. I am strong, independent, creative, funny, and forgiving. I would not be all of those things if not for my parents. My dad has always believed in anything and everything that was and is important to me. He never doubted me or discouraged me. He nurtured my creativity and independence.

Dad, I want you to know how very important and irreplaceable you are to me. I love you unconditionally and without expectations. I am grateful to you for all that you have done for me. I am thankful that I get to be your daughter, and I think you were and are the perfect dad for me in this life. If I could go back and choose a father, I would choose you every time. I don't want you to think you haven't done anything important in this life or that you should have done something more. You are a father, a grandfather, and an inspiration to me. I love you so much, Daddy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween with A Blended Family

Cami, Ayden, Grandpa Dave, and Ali Halloween 2011
My second post on Her View from Home is about how we do Halloween with our unique family.

Divorce can completely change the way your family plans the holidays. Even Halloween can be so much more complicated when you insert exes, step-parents, and step-siblings.

The first Halloween during our separation was extremely uncomfortable. My ex-husband went trick-or-treating with us, with two mutual friends of ours as a couple. The girls ran ahead of us, racing one another to each house, leaving the adults to walk together, in awkward silence. I had to continuously remind myself why we were trick-or-treating together in the first place. We had to be grown-ups and put our differences aside for the kids for an hour and a half if we wanted to truly put them first. I kept my mouth shut and we made it through that hour and a half. Once we each met someone, holidays became even more complicated.
Trish and Bob Halloween 2010

During mediation, we decided to forgo swapping Halloween every year and to each take the girls for a couple of hours on Halloween. They grow up so fast, and neither of us wanted to miss a single Halloween of trick-or-treating, school parties, and costumes.

This year, the girls will begin trick-or-treating with their dad, step-mom, and siblings early in the evening, and will finish the night trick-or treating with us. We take turns assisting in the classroom parties, and this year Molly and I both plan to help during Cami's class party. Cami does not have to worry that it will be awkward or that we will not get along. The only thing she worries about is how everyone else reacts to our unique situation. People are not usually understanding about our family, and many make comments. It is never easy to put the children first, but I believe it is worth it. Follow the link to HVFH to read more.

HVFH -Halloween With A Blended Family
Bob and the Girls Halloween 2010

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our Blended Family

Ayden and Ali
My first post about my blended family is on the Her View From Home site. I am truly honored to be a feature writer for this wonderful mom site. My bi-weekly posts will explore life during and after a divorce.

I was married the first time for twelve years, and we have two beautiful daughters, 13 and 9. My ex-husband and I have both remarried. This is my husband's first marriage, and he has no children. He is absolutely wonderful with our girls.

My ex-husband and his wife have two little ones of their own, a one-year-old boy and a six-month-old daughter. My ex and I share legal and physical joint custody our two girls. When we first separated, it was important to my ex and I to make the situation as comfortable as possible for our children. Children deserve to be able to talk openly and kindly about either parent without criticism from the other parent.

It isn't always easy to place the children's needs above your own anger and pain, but I believe it is essential to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids. Molly, my ex husband's wife and I talk almost daily. We discuss the girls and their behavior, and all decide on their punishments as a team. The four of us discuss everything that involves the children and work together as a team.

Cami and Peyton
One advantage to all of us getting along so well is it makes situations where we have to all be around one another much easier. The children don't have to worry about their parents and step-parents fighting at their choir programs or softball games. They also know if they try to bate one parent against the other, it will not work, because we have open communication.

Follow the link below to Her View From Home, to my first post.

Her View From Home-Blended Families, by Trish Eklund

Ali, Ayden, and Cami
Photograph of the three kids by, Kristen Kirkelie, Kirkelie Photography
Kirkelie Photography