Monday, March 03, 2008


Actually mine and Corey’s entire relationship has been one big bonding experience. Every time we get together we cram every experience we can into the short time. I have never tried to be Corey’s father, just a good buddy with whom he could let down his hair and be himself. He seems to appreciate that. He was blessed with a good “daddy” in Larry, Connie’s second husband, and refers to him as Papa”. You might think that would bother me, but under the circumstances, I am thankful he had someone at home that he could look up to and admire.

His mom and I divorced when he was just 3 ½ to 4 years old. It broke my heart as he stood and watched as I loaded what was left of my existence, under the attentive eye of a deputy sheriff, into my car. The law was there because a restraining order had been issued by her lawyer, which, in the state of Tennessee, is a necessary follow up to a separation by “irreconcilable differences.”

Beginning with that first weekend, I picked up Corey on Friday after work and kept him until Saturday afternoon for as long as I could. Naturally, as he got older that time grew shorter and shorter, until he no longer came to spend Friday night with me. Sports, girls, and college ended it forever, and today we see each other one or two days out of the month.

I understand completely, because he has a family, friends, work, and other interests in his life totally separate from my life. I take what we get and will often times drop previously scheduled plans just to be with him.

Those days after the divorce were lonely times for me, having been used to having a lot of her family and our friends around. Suddenly, I was on my own. It took a while for me to learn how to develop new friends and other interest.

It also took me a few months to settle into my own place. In the meantime, I moved in with Connie’s parents, back where we began 10 years earlier, until I could find and buy a house of my own. I could never repay what I owe her parents; first giving us a place to live while I went to school, and finally a place for me to get my feet back on the ground! They always thought of me as the son they never had, not just a son-in-law, and even today we greet and hug as family.

However, Friday night and Saturdays remained important. I lived for those few hours a week with Corey. Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of extra money to do a lot of interesting things, but I tried to make what we could do very interesting for him.

My mom will still start to cry today if I start telling about making Corey’s pancakes with water, because I could not afford milk. However, he never even noticed the difference and he loved, still loves, my pancakes. I would eat two wieners; a personal size can of spinach, and some cottage cheese for my meals. I lost 30 pounds quickly!

I owe what “we” have today to Judy, who stood by me and my debts after we married some four years later! She handles all the money and has never put us in danger of busting our budget.

Corey and I wrestled a lot on the carpet of my “bachelor pad,” watched TV, played with his cars in the dirt, and just rode around. As he grew, we did pinewood derbies, went to baseball practice and games, and visited the local zoo and museums.

Sometimes our entertainment was no more than exploring the forested areas around Harriman. As an example, here is a clip of us fooling around on top of Buzzard’s Bluff, which overlooks the area.

By the time this was made, Judy and I were married and there was money to do other things on the weekend like fish from our boat, hunt, and swim in our pool. However, I don’t think any of the times we had together then meant anymore than the times we spent in the woods.

The other special times were those at night when we went to bed. We would lay there and talk and laugh, mostly about silly little funny things we made up, and those times are priceless.

I remember his little hands, his soft skin, his smell, and how I hurt for him for having to wear glasses at such a young age. He was my boy and all this combined to form the bond and the love I have for him today.


BRUNO said...

And, you wouldn't have traded all of that for ANYTHING in this world today, now, would you?

Lots of things I wish that I could go back, and change. And, at the same time, there are many which I am glad that I cannot.

One of the prices we pay for being HUMAN, I guess...?

~Fathairybastard~ said...

What Bruno said goes for me too. I think we'd all like to go back and do a few things different. Regrets are a part of every life. But it sounds like you did everything you could. I know there'll always be a hole in your heart, but you've done everything you could do, and everything has turned out just fine. Relax man.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Great video. Wonderful stuff. Love it.

Jeni said...

Now that was an excellent post on fathering -and boy, I do wish more parents (moms and dads alike) who are with their kids only for a short period of visitation time, would read your words and see that there are many things that can make for excellent time spent with the kids, building a quality relationship, ya know. I'm really pleased you did this with your son and also, that you posted this now.
But I have a question for you too. What's wrong with making pancakes with water? Most of the package mixes I get say to add water to the mix. (Occasionally I cheat and use milk, even toss in an egg or two now and then as well as a little dabble of vanilla.)

Lin said...

Mushy, that was wonderful. Just goes to show that real wealth comes from the heart. I bet Corey felt like the richest kid in the world when his buddy and lovin' pop was with him.

And God bless Judy for loving determination and turning the financial tide back around.

Shrinky said...

Seems that all I wanted to say has already been said, my friend. In many ways you and Corey may have bonded closer because you were not the "live-in" parent. I see it all the time, fathers who work long, hard hours and who often forget their kids are growing away from them. You were so aware your time together had a limit put to it that you made a conscience effort to put some quality into it.

It also speaks highly of both you and your ex-wife that your son was never forced to take up any sides.

Suldog said...

GREAT series, Mushy. I love stuff like this. It's the reason why blogs are so much fun. Good personal stories, no worries about pleasing some mass audience (not that you don't have a large readership, of course, but we can be as personal as we wish and not be troubled by other folks expectations.)

pat houseworth said...

You wright a good blog Mushy. Glad you didn't stop writing on your daily one....keep up the good work.

Scott from Oregon said...

He's lucky the Harry Potter books hadn't come out yet.

He sure looks like he grew up strapping, man!

All that canned spinach popeyed him!

Heart warming to hear you guys did better than just the best you could...

Buck said...

A sad story, this, and one I'm all TOO familiar with. You made the best of it, and that's all we can do... any of us.

Good on ya, Mushy.

*Goddess* said...

Having to leave a child or not being able to see them as much because of a divorce would be so difficult. First you have to deal with the end of your relationship with your spouse, then your relationship with your child changes. Sadly, a lose/lose situation for all.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

I like the t-shirt too.

That 1 Guy said...

Great posts, Mushy...

And I'm echoing FHB on the t-shirt.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Cuz! I've been meaning to ask how you got your nickname, Mushy!! Now, I know it's because you're such a big, ole soft-hearted and strong-hearted man. You did a great job in loving your son while doing what had to be done. Corey had a much better life than if you'd "stayed together" because of your child. At least that's what I think. But, my parents did just that for many, many years, finally divorcing after all the kids were out of the house. They later remarried and divorced (bitterly again), Your relationship with Connie's family is to be admired too. My 2nd set of "former in-laws" still loved and respected me. They always said that we didn't "divorce" each other. Take Care and pray for some good weather for my trip to TN, NC, VA, AL & between here and there in April. Belle

Hammer said...

divorce is so tough but it sounds like you made the best of it.

When my parents split I spent every moment I could at my dads place.

Catmoves said...

A moving acount Mushy. I am happy that things have worked out for you both and the relationship is strong and loving. Congratulations.

david mcmahon said...

You're richly blessed. And so is Corey.

Chris said...

Thanks for reaffirming that I am going right with my kids. How perfect is it that I just tucked the 8 y/o into bed before reading this.

These stories of you and Corey make me smile!

Vienna for Beginners said...

Shrinky already said all, your boy's blessed with a great father! Good luck to all of you.
David sent me.

Daryl E said...

That was just wonderful .. you are both very lucky to have one another ...

David sent me

Mushy said...

Thanks David for sending me new friends!

I'm the one blessed by all that come here.

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