By Guest Writer
Today my son turns nineteen. Hardly seems possible….It is a bittersweet occasion as I know he is happy- but I will not be getting to see him. I rarely do. Jonathan was just eighteen months old when I met and fell in love with his mother. Things went fast and before I knew where I was I was raising him- and ultimately adopted him. Over the years I have written several dozen accounts of this upbringing. Anecdotes ranged from the silly, to the poignant to the loving; all wonderful memories.
Due to my own upbringing I always attempted to make him feel loved and included. He went to his first concert at aged two- Brian Setzer- and went to at least one a month from that day on. Many a time I took him in his teenaged years to bands I had seen when I was his age; Echo and the Bunnymen, Squeeze, Psychedelic Furs, The Specials, Devo, to name just a handful. Again all wonderful memories we shared and I am sure he remembers fondly. He even attended several conventions with me- which he thoroughly enjoyed. Many a well-known author gifted him books – which I know he still has and treasures.
In 2005 my father broke his hip. We almost lost him to infections and complications that arose from this injury. Yet he was strong and fought back. He was still able to drive and used to come over to our house three or four times a week to join us for dinner. My wife and appreciate he should not really be driving- but it was straight run that involved no major highways. I discussed him moving in with us. We had the room and seemed to be the perfect option.
On those nights my father was due over my wife started to come home later and later. In hindsight I could appreciate why. This is where I shall be cautiously candid. My wife’s childhood relationship with her father had been similar to mine. Despite its shroud in vagueness I am sure you get the gist of that remark.
My father’s health deteriorated and so did the relationship with my wife. Only I failed to notice. We had a blow out one night and the next day I returned home to a moving truck. My life was about to fall apart. After fifteen years she was gone….
For a while I was in touch with my son…picking him up for school and attending his soccer matches and so on. But when she started to seriously date again this became strained. Eventually I was shut out of the loop. He was seventeen at the time and along with all the stress that inherently comes along with the teenaged years I refused to let him be a pawn between me and his mother. I texted him frequently, and have always acknowledged holidays with cards and gifts yet slowly the distance seemed longer. At eighteen he was barely spending time with his mother anymore and had settled into a new life with his girlfriend. He is a straight A college student and I am frightfully proud. But, I so wish I could be there today to see him.
It wasn’t long before my father was back in the hospital- and before I knew where I was taking care of him became a full time concern. After he got out of hospital I moved in with him. Little did I know what I was taking on….two years ago they told me he had six months at the most; I am glad they were proved wrong. Since Christmas he has deteriorated fast. I take things day to day now. To be honest I have no idea even where I will be living in a month’s time…I thought I had a safety net- but that has recently been pulled from under me to.
I do pay someone to come in of an evening so I can escape. And yes that escape generally involves Guinness and live music. I shall also be (hopefully) making it to this year’s World Horror Convention and Stoker award banquet. (Everything is booked but it will be down to the wire…) It will be a wonderful weekend shared with old and new friends alike.
I have no doubt that me and my son will reconnect…and who knows this time next year we may be making plans for him and his girlfriend to attend New Orleans- for next year’s festivities. How amazing would that scenario be?
It is also a reminder to never take anything or anyone for granted. My wife was only candid with me about her feelings about my father long after she had left. I should not have expected her to help take on the responsibility of this. She had also observed what a similar situation went on with her father, her sister and brother-in-law. It almost tore their marriage apart.
It is amazing how a life can change. I had a loving family, the perfect home, nice cars and a lifestyle I could have never ever dared to dream as a working class kid back in Birmingham. Within weeks my life was thrown upside down. Icannot grumble for at least I have the memories of the best years of my life.
Yet my experienes have taught me this- you never know what delights and opportunities are on tomorrow’s horizon. Perhaps, just perhaps I say, the best is yet to come.