February 1st, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The following was written by Fathers and Families supporter, Bradley Howe. I wrote about Brad’s case back last August. Here’s a link to that post. Brad’s ex leveled two claims of domestic violence at him in an effort to keep him out of his child’s life. Both were denied by judges. On the third effort, she succeeded despite neither claiming nor producing any evidence of violence on his part. She also interfered with his visitation with his child. Given that background, what followed should come as no surprise.
Even though my visitation with my daughter allows every other Friday weekend and 4 hours each Tuesday, I am the only thing in my daughter’s life that is constant and unchanging. In fact I am the rock in her life; the immovable force that she can always count on; unwavering and unchanging since 2009. At least so I thought, until mid 2011 when her Mother started denying my then three year old daughter’s visitations with her father, and for the first time in my daughter’s life I’m sure she felt her little hands being pried loose from that immovable object.
At the outset and during these times I would tell my daughter that I will always love her and that I will always be there for her, and even though at times it may seem to the contrary, the fact is nobody can ever take that away from her. At the outset and during these times I reminded her that my favorite color is green, and because of that every time she sees the color green, she will know that I love her and that I am thinking about her. She replies “Daddy, green is everywhere! The grass is green!”, and I said that means I love you, “and the trees are green!”, and I replied that means I love you, “and the car is green!”, and I laughed that means I love you too. On and on she went, giggling and laughing and pointing out green things everywhere, upon which I replied “I love you…, I love you…, I love you…”.
Through the Fourth of July no visitation, through Labor Day weekend, through Halloween, through Veterans Day, and on through Thanksgiving holidays still no visitation. Always after each denial of visitation she seemed more distant and sad. When I did manage to see her I would point to something green and bring that to her attention. She would always smile and reply “that means you love me and are thinking about me.” I tell her that the color green is everywhere just like my love and thoughts of her.
On through the Christmas holidays no visitation, on through her December birthday no visitation, on through New Years no visitation. Attempts to visit her at daycare just to say hi evaporate as she is no longer there. Attempts to give her a Christmas gift are mailed back to my home destroyed. Attempts to reach her on the telephone go unanswered and messages are ignored. Attempts at fatherly love are ripped from my heart and disappear into the black hole of what used to be consistent and regular loving contact.
It is January 2012 and my daughter is now four years old. The Christmas holidays including her birthday of 2011 were especially tough on her as she was denied all contact with her father. Her emotional hands that cling to that immovable object are sore and tired. I’m starting to wonder myself how long can she hold on. I know she doesn’t want to let go, yet as anyone clinging to a rope to keep from falling, I see her losing her grip.
This weekend, the end of January 2012 is my next Friday visitation weekend. My daughter has yet to have her Christmas with Daddy. Our Christmas tree is now old and sagging, yet the decorations and lights magically transform its age. Her presents both from family and Santa are in the same place as they were on Christmas day. Her stocking hangs by the tree with little treats and reminders of Christmas magic yet to come.
On this Tuesday I sat down to talk with her about this upcoming Friday weekend. I explain that I love her, and will be there for our time together and to celebrate Christmas. I also tell her that if for some reason we don’t see each other this Friday, it will not be because I didn’t try. My little girl hangs her head disappointedly and says “ok Daddy”, as I expect by now she probably realizes our weekend may not happen yet again.
Not wanting to see her suffer, I extend my spiritual hand to her; “Sweetie, remember the color green?” She looks up, nods her head and smiles. “yes Daddy, it means you love me and you are thinking about me”. She says “green is everywhere; the grass is green, the trees are green, and the sun is green”. I thought about this for a second “But Sweetie, the sun is typically yellow, when is the sun ever green?” She looked at me with her big bright blue eyes and says “Daddy, the sun is green on Tuesdays and Fridays…”
This year I learned more about Christmas than the previous 48 combined. I learned that Christmas is not about Santa, reindeer, trees, lights, presents, money, credit, sales, food, drink, or even a specific day. Christmas is about LOVE. Christmas time is a time to remind us to LOVE each other throughout the rest of the year. Give a gift of love fully, unconditionally, and from the heart, and undoubtedly you will receive the same limitless love in return. It’s amazing how a four year old child can teach a stubborn old man like me lessons of life. This was the best Christmas gift I could have ever received and undoubtedly one of real true lasting value.
Peace on earth and goodwill towards mankind. What a beautiful gift for all our posterity. Yet that gift, that LOVE must be planted into the minds of our children to be nurtured and grown until one day we can all live together as a healthy functional loving society. How can we succeed as a society if we continue to fail as a family? I know firsthand fatherless families are not the way, and likewise neither are motherless ones. It takes both parents equally to raise children, even and especially in the face of a divorce. To think otherwise is to condemn society to certain failure.
Brad has emailed me that he’s moved for a change of custody. So far his ex is avoiding the summons.