The ultimatum, part 8

Paul struggled with what it meant to be a husband and a dad. He never had a dad and barely remembered his mother’s brief marriage when he was 4 to a man that was supposedly abusive towards him.

His only parent was very childlike herself. They were dirt poor. He spent the first half of his childhood in low income housing in the inner city of Chicago. His mother was slow and uneducated. She also struggled with mental health issues that I would guess were trauma related.

Martha’s dad died when she was 12, so Paul didn’t have a grandpa either. He wouldn’t have made a good grandpa anyway. He was known to abuse his children and cheat on his wife. He wouldn’t be my chosen father figure for a future husband.

Martha didn’t always make the best decisions but she was a good mother. She always told Paul he could do anything he put his mind to. She did the best she could with the hand she was given.

Sometimes I feel like Paul was more of a parent to Martha than she was to him. But that could be because I saw him give her advice as an adult. She would argue that credit cards were money. She wasn’t a drinker but I think she was addicted to gambling. I’m sure that is why Paul is obsessed with keeping our finances in order.

Martha also had a really bad temper. She was very reactive and emotional. She often was angry and thought people were out to get her. Or you could be the best thing that ever happened to her. In those times you could do nothing wrong. She was crazy fun, exciting, and impulsive.

After her brief marriage, Martha didn’t have a lot of boyfriends. She worked a lot. Sometimes she lost her jobs due to her chronic tardiness. She married for the 2nd time right before I met Paul. Her husband Darryl is only 15 years older than Paul. He had kids but his ex took off with them and they spent most of their adult life in and out of prison. Maybe if Paul was still a child he would’ve been a good father.

I wish I could say that my own dad was able to take him under his wing. If anything, my dad taught him what not to do as a husband and a father. It seems like we both had to parent our parents more than they parented us. It caused a lot of stress shouldering all of that responsibility.

There was no one, just a big empty void of abandonment. He was expected to be good at something he never learned how to do. He didn’t have a dad to play ball with. No one taught him how to fix things or work on cars. He was never disciplined. He didn’t have a dad to embarrass him or give him advice on girls. Like most things, he just had to figure it out himself.

I tried to gloss it over and glamorize it by saying that at least he could develop his own style. But it wasn’t easy. I think he is a wonderful father and husband despite his insecurities. When he screws up he apologizes and tries harder to be a better person. He is doing a wonderful job and I appreciate his commitment.

He could’ve walked away like his own father did. Instead he was willing to roll up his sleeves and work on himself and our relationship.

Paul’s journey, part 2

He spent his earliest formative years in the projects in the inner city of Chicago.

You might think that the story would’ve ended differently if Martha’s dad survived to see his grandchild arrive. Maybe he would have been a great father figure for this infant fatherless child.

Where we left off yesterday, Martha gave birth alone to a baby boy. I can imagine how frightened she must have been. Childbirth is a terrifying thought during pregnancy…rich or poor…young or old…married or alone. But possibly more so if you are poor, young, and alone.

During childbirth, Martha was in a delirious state and saw her father there watching over her. Martha cherished her father. But from what I heard, he wasn’t a very good man. He was said to be an abusive drunk.

I once heard a story of how Martha’s older brothers teamed up as teenagers and fought their father. I couldn’t tell you why. But I could tell you that it was probably justified.

I heard that he was a crooked cop. Maybe involved somehow with the mob. I also heard that he had a girlfriend and maybe even another family on the side.

I really didn’t hear anything about his character that would make me think that he would be a suitable father or father figure for anyone. If he hadn’t dropped dead of a heart attack when Martha was 12, I might not be telling the same story or this story at all.

For a short period of time, Paul had a ‘dad’.

Martha got married just long enough to change her name when Paul was 3. Martha said she left her new husband after a year because he was abusive to her son. The only thing that Paul remembers about his step-dad was that he had 2 large black dogs.

It has always been a debate in our house which is worse…not having a dad or having a terrible father. If his step-dad was truly a mean man, then perhaps he was better off without a dad. Thankfully his grandpa never was a part of his life either. He didn’t have a dad or grandpa, but some of his uncles were nice.





The first sail of the season


On Memorial Day, we were finally able to head out for the first sail of the season. As I posted on Friday, it was too windy and rainy to get out of the harbor so we just sat on the boat and fought. Friday wasn’t a totally wasted day however. Paul helped Harv put the sails on his boat. Harv is the man that did our boat renaming ceremony last year. He is twice my age and couldn’t tackle that job alone.

Harv has become like a father figure for Paul. They are not only sailing buddies, but they are theater buddies now as well. Harv tried out for the summer play and would only accept a part if Paul took one. I may have mentioned this before, Paul grew up without a father. Not only did he not have a father, he never had a grandfather either. Paul’s mom married his step-dad Darryl after he was an adult.

But anyway, back to Monday… It was probably the hottest day that we had so far this year. I decided to go out for a 6 mile run in the morning, my first run after the marathon. My knee ached a little, but I didn’t wrap it. It felt wonderful to be out on a nice day. Hot, but nice! After that Paul and I watched our youngest two kids march in the parade. So I did a couple more miles of walking this time with coolers and chairs. Lol.

This past weekend I found out that my son Alex has a new girlfriend. He hasn’t had a girlfriend since his first girlfriend two years ago in 7th grade. He wanted to spent the afternoon with her after the parade. Angel said that this girl is a quiet, beautiful, and nice church going girl. I haven’t had the chance to meet her yet. Pity the poor girl’s parents, another nice girl falls for a bad boy. Lol. I am hoping that it will change my son’s opinion about church and school, but I am not holding my breath.

After we were done with all of the festivities, we headed out to the sailboat. The weather conditions were absolutely perfect. Harv ended up showing up at the same time that we did. So we took him along on our first sail of the season. It was a glorious day. I was happy to finally savor the warm weather doing two of the things that I really enjoy, running and sailing.

Unfortunately, I was so exhausted from everything going on over the weekend that I wasn’t able to do the other thing that I enjoy, writing. Not to worry though, I plan on writing about it while it is still fresh in my mind during the rainy and entirely boring days…