Catching up recently with two of my nephews I hadn't seen in many years has been heartwarming. It took losing my brother last year to finally make that happen.
As in many families in the 1960s and 1970s, when there was a divorce in the family, the father often left his "old" children slip through their fingers. I know that is what happened with my brother, not once but twice.
He was married to the boys' mothers, but when the marriages ended, one ex-wife didn't want him to interfere in his son's new life. Oh, I am sure the checks arrived, but his presence was simply unwelcome. He made attempts to try to see the Gary and Wayne, but soon gave up and started a new life.
I never really understood how much that harmed these boys, who are now in their 40s.
I am so very proud of them and despite strong odds of them becoming delinquents, they are actually quite nice and normal and are quite successful in their lives and careers.
After the funeral, I saw two of the three boys. One man was a tall slender dark haired man with a smile. Could that be Wayne? I hadn't seem him since he was not much more than a toddler.
We sat and talked and I told him how hurt I was that we lost touch. I tried to think back to the time of their parents' breakups and realized I wasn't much more than a child myself. Could I have done more to stay in touch? I didn't even know where Wayne was. I had no phone number and no address and even if I did, would my attempts at staying in touch been welcome?
Then there was Kim, a son with his second wife, who spent his entire summer at my house at around age 12 and left for home the day before school started and poof, he was gone, like he disappeared into thin air.
After seeing my daughters and Kim play together every single day for weeks on end and then not even hearing anything about him, that was not only tough on me, but on my girls. Kim and Jana had developed a close friendship that was special to see.
It was especially hard to lose Kim from our lives as I had been the person who took his mother to the hospital the day he was born. I was able to see him within minutes after he was born. I'll never forget how sweet he was as a little boy.
Now both these "boys" are six feet tall and as handsome as can be.
I mourn the time we lost. I realize they have their own lives, with wives and families, but I vow to stay in touch. I still need to make contact with Gary.
These men do not even know each other, but I am sure they would like each other if given the opportunity.
Both of them say that they vowed to themselves to show "their father" that they were worthy and "could become something." They have done that.
Wayne even asked, "What did I do as a three-year-old that my father hated me?"
While I can't speak for my brother, I think it's rather obvious that both he and his mother failed him. She by discouraging my brother's visits and him, for not trying harder.
I know that families don't always stay together, but I have noticed a trend that today's fathers do try to maintain a relationship with their children even if the parents don't stay together. I applaud people, both men and women, who continue to try to make the right choices for their children by continuing to maintain a relationship with their children. Those who do not try are hurting their children, themselves and their children's extended family members.
Believe me, I know that from experience.