Wait…your parents aren’t married?


Mom and Dad 1950, the
summer before they were married.

I don’t know that I really ever remember my parents being married. But, then again, I didn’t really understand they were divorced either. Or what divorce meant.

No one will fess up about this, but I have always thought that I was either
            a) an “accident”.
            b) a last ditch effort to save their marriage.
Either way, don’t feel badly about it when you read that because, honestly, I was a very loved child by my parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. and regardless of why I was born really made no difference once I was here because I was quite the spoiled thing, I must admit.
Mom and Dad on their wedding day
October 21, 1950

I don’t remember a time my Dad wasn’t at the house. I think one of the earliest memories I do have is of him sleeping downstairs in the family room. Maybe I was about 4 or 5. I should ask my sisters about that, who are much older and were aware of what was going on.

But what I remember is that Dad came home from work every day and had dinner with us. Dinner was always 6pm every night. Sharp. Then he would sit in his chair with the Hartford Times newspaper and do the crossword puzzle. Sometimes he would come downstairs to the family room to watch tv. Sometimes he would come upstairs and watch tv with my mother and I in her bedroom. He would sit at the end of the bed in a metal folding chair. And watch TV. Sometimes he would rub Mom’s feet.  Then, at 9pm, he would go home to his own place in East Granby.
I know, weird, huh?  
There was no animosity between them for the most part. I give a lot of credit to my mother for making this divorce not seem like a divorce.  She is the one who wanted the divorce. She had not been happy for many years.  She knew my father was kind of helpless when it came to things like making himself dinner. She knew that he was kind of a loner who had a lot of acquaintances, but no close friends.  We kids were his world, Diana Lane was his world, and my mother was his world. She was as gentle about it all as she could be and let him come and go as he pleased. 
My favorite photo of my Dad and I in 1968

I remember realizing it was weird when I had a friend sleeping over one Friday night. We were playing in the living room and Dad came over and rumpled my hair and said goodnight and he walked out the door.  My friend, Jayme asked, “where is your Daddy going?” I said without missing a beat, “To his house.”  She looked at me confused. I suddenly got it that not only was I the only kid I knew who had parents who were divorced, but that we were a different kind of divorced family where everyone got along.

Now it wasn’t always roses, mind you. When my mother entertained a gentleman at the house, she would have to tell my Dad not to come over that evening for dinner. I remember she would say to him that she was “having company.” I felt badly for Dad because you could see the hurt on his face. He never quite accepted they were divorced. As much as it helped us all to have Dad still a regular part of our routine, I think it also hampered him from moving on and accepting the divorce.
I remember them having a conversation at the dinner table after us kids had left the table. They didn’t realize I was still in ear shot. Dad said he wanted to move back in and he and my mom to live as husband and wife again. Mom was gentle about it, but she said “No, Bob, that is not going to happen.”  I didn’t necessarily want them back together…it really made no difference to me…but I felt badly that my Dad was still pining after her when she had clearly moved on.
Mom came up from Florida specifically to see Dad during his last weeks. I was glad she did. I think she was glad she did. And I know my Dad was glad she did. One of the most touching things I witnessed was her feeding him  in the nursing home. It shows that when you’ve shared a life time together, with 5 children, 9 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild together, despite a divorce–there is a love there that never completely goes away.


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