Friday, May 7, 2010…Graduation Weekend—Day 1, Part 1

 

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It was hard to believe that Graduation weekend was about to begin.

All the planning, preparation and packing were finally finished. Both Dick’s and my cars were loaded and we were ready to embark on our separate journeys to the same location.

Yes, that was absolutely correct. The same location!!!

Unbeknownst to Dick, I booked a room at the same hotel he did.

More about that later…

Dick and Ashley took off around 7:00 a.m. Because I had to wait until Dick was finished in the bathroom before I could finally shower, get dressed and pack the things I still needed to use that morning, I wasn’t able to leave until 9:00 a.m.

As I merged onto the tollway, initiating the first stretch of the long drive out to the IU campus, I thought about how positively petty, ridiculous and totally childish Dick was behaving about the whole thing.

What did he think he was gaining…aside from showing up before I did and making my life totally miserable??? Come to think of it, that probably was exactly what he had to gain!!!

We were both going to the same town to be part of both OUR son’s graduation festivities. Yet, it was obviously way too much for Dick to travel in the same car with me.

As irritated I was at the onset, the more I drove, the more I realized what a blessing it actually was.

At least I had peace and quiet, listened to the music I wanted to and got to stop wherever and whenever I needed to. There were a lot of positives when I stopped and thought about it. And as I began to appreciate them, I settled back and enjoyed the journey.

I was even making pretty good time.

However, when I reached Indianapolis, (where Dick and I were both staying) it was obvious that I would be cutting things way too close if I checked into the hotel and dropped my things off in my room. Oh well… I couldn’t have everything.

While stopped at a red light, I called Josh. He informed me that Dick and Ashley were already with him. This certainly wasn’t a news flash for me.

Since they left two hours before I did, not only did they have plenty of time to get settled in at the hotel before continuing on their way, they even had the luxury of sitting around relaxing with Josh before all the festivities began.

Not me! I was busy playing Beat the Clock all morning.

Before the light changed to green and I would have had to hang up the phone, it was decided that I would drive to the frat house and leave my car there. Then we would all grab some lunch together and walk over to the Auditorium for the Business School’s ceremony recognizing the Honor Program’s graduates.

At that moment, it actually seemed that for the most part, things were going to turn out okay.

I was just about to give myself a proverbial pat on the back for a job well done when all of a sudden traffic came to a complete stop. For cryin’ out loud, I couldn’t believe what was happening. I totally jinxed myself for having  a positive thought.

A very, very, very long and slow-moving train was creating a parking lot on the road for as far as the eye could see. I was stuck with nowhere to go. As time rapidly ticked by, I kept glancing at my watch and panic began to set in.

Damn it, I thought to myself. Why did this kind of crap always happen to me??? It was evident there was no way I was going to make it to the frat before the ceremony.

Feeling totally demoralized, I called Josh back and told him that they should eat without me. I would have to meet them at the Auditorium. Before I hung up, I asked Josh to please tell his dad to save me a seat.

My heart began racing a mile a minute.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same thing about my car.

To be continued…

 

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Was It Really Time To Commence With The Commencement?

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How could it have been possible that Josh was graduating from college already?

As often as I said this and as old as it was starting to sound, I honestly didn’t know where the time went.

I swear that it was only a few days ago that we (Dick, Josh, Ashley and I) loaded up my car and drove off with everything we could possibly think of to keep Josh safe, sound and secure in his new home (so very, very far) away home — his dorm room.

Since that road trip was several hours long and since having a civil or pleasant conversation with Dick was as likely as me being crowned Miss Universe, I had plenty of time to contemplate what was about to transpire.

As we slowly made our way to the University campus, I couldn’t help but think how Josh was about to begin a new chapter of his life in the “Big 10” world of academia and major partying.

Would my little boy be able to handle all of that? How would he cope?

In all honesty, I was also pondering how I would be able to handle all of that. Would be able to cope?

Fast forward to graduation weekend.

My first-born adjusted extremely well to life as a co-ed. Not only did he survive, he thrived. Basically, I did okay too.

Four years earlier, we dropped off a young, naïve kid who was deeply concerned about how he would adjust to that major life-altering experience at such a large, sprawling institution of higher learning.

Then— in what seemed like a heartbeat— four years later we were about to pick up a mature young man — a college graduate, full of confidence, with a new job and a bright future ahead of him. It was almost unfathomable to believe this  could have possibly been the same person.

Or maybe I should have been wondering…Who was this guy…and what did he do with my baby?

Sneaky Is As Sneaky Does

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After this latest incident, my body was called into and admonished to stay in “high alert” mode for potential attacks.

Unfortunately, as I was quickly discovering, this would be the new status quo for a very long time.

The “enemy” was a constant in my home and in my life. Under the circumstances as they were, he was able to pounce whenever he felt the whim to spew out more of his poisonous venom. As the tension continued to escalate in our house, it was becoming crystal clear that these assaults would become more frequent, personal and vengeful.

A few days after Dick unloaded his Graduation Weekend agenda on me, I happened to drive past a country club in my neighborhood. As I was motoring by,  the sign outside the facility promoting upcoming events caught my eye.

In big bold letters, an announcement for Mother’s Day Brunch appeared. With everything going on in my life, I completely forgot about that upcoming holiday. I checked the date, did a double take and then my stomach lurched up to my throat.

Mother’s Day was the day following Josh’s graduation. That’s the day we would be returning back from the festivities. That was also the day that Dick decided he would be driving Ashley home and spending the time with her.

Coincidence???

Absolutely, positively NOT!!!

Dick had every intention of screwing me over!

At that point, I was majorly pissed off. He had so much damn nerve.

It was only a month earlier that we met with the mediator. With her, we set up a holiday schedule to abide by while we were separated, but still not divorced. The parameters outlined in that agreement stated that Ashley would spend Mother’s Day with me and Father’s Day with her dad.

Yet, Dick went blatantly against that and planned on being with Ashley on MY holiday.  How dare he be so bold, brazen and beastly. Knowing him as well as I did, I realized that he felt if I were stupid enough not to notice, then he would do what he wanted and he would deserve to get away with it. If I would call him on it after the fact, then he would say, “That’s your problem. You should have spoken up sooner.”

So I needed to orchestrate a tactic that would cause him to reveal himself as the conniving piece of crap that he was while I avoided getting sucked into his ploy and losing control.

Later that evening, when Dick and Ashley were both home, I sweetly told Dick that there was something I needed to discuss with him. With Ashley in earshot, I explained that he must not have been aware that Mother’s Day was the day that he planned on driving back home from the graduation with Ashley, otherwise I was sure he would not have suggested it.

*That was definitely an Academy Award winning performance, if I must have said so myself.

I continued on that we would have to reverse the driving order: Ashley would go with him and come home with me. He acquiesced and went to Ashley’s room and announced to her that there would be a change of plans. The two of them would take his mom out for Mother’s Day the week before graduation, since Ashley would be spending the day with me and they wouldn’t be able to see his mom that day.

So that was what was going on here…

Dick not only wanted to keep Ashley from being with me on Mother’s Day, he was planning on the two of them celebrating with his mom.

WHAT A MAJOR MOTHER F%&*ER!!!

Boy, was I glad I was able to get that out.

It’s just not healthy to keep those things bottled up inside.

 

Planning Ahead…

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I received an email from Josh.

After opening it up, the first thing that caught my eye was that Dick received a copy too. Before I delved into the contents of the correspondence, I was suddenly struck by the miracle of modern technology.

It was absolutely mind-boggling to think that a child could communicate with his mom and dad simultaneously without actually conversing with each one, and on top of that, both parents would be aware that the other was included in the discussion.  The three of us could chat without ever having to look each other in the eye, be in the same room or respond when addressed.

How remarkable was that?

Okay, I totally digressed here. I realize that this wasn’t something most people would contemplate upon receiving a letter from their child.

However, being in the middle of a nasty divorce, I definitely was impressed by the significance, irony and beauty of this.

So, getting back to the email, Josh informed us that his graduation weekend was swiftly approaching. He took the liberty of making reservations for the four of us at several restaurants; one for Friday night, (the evening before graduation) another for lunch following the commencement ceremonies on Saturday morning and the third for dinner on Saturday night.

He made it clear that he wanted our family to all be together for this major milestone in his life.

Since he had to leave a deposit at all of the establishments, he needed both of us to let him know as soon as possible if these plans would work for us. If not, he would have to make adjustments right away. After all, his money was as stake here.

Josh didn’t want to be on the losing end of anything else in his life, especially cash.

Did I mention that he was majoring in Finance and Operations…and that he was in the Honors program at the Business School?

Immediately I responded to Josh that he could count Ashley and me in. I said how happy I was that he made the arrangements and his sister and I were looking forward to the festivities. I thanked him for taking care of the plans and how excited I was for his upcoming graduation. Not wanting to go overboard, I held back from including a few lyrics from “Sunrise Sunset.”  Is this the little boy I carried…

In addition to being immensely proud of Josh for taking charge of and handling everything on his own, I was secretly relieved that he did so.

Since “the War” broke out, I wondered, worried and writhed about how this momentous occasion would play itself out. As far as I was concerned, that should have been a time for a ceasefire. For our kids’ sake, and in everyone’s best interest, Dick and I needed to put down our weapons, call a temporary truce, show a united front and be civil and friendly during Graduation weekend.

Afterward, when we would once again be renewed, refreshed and revitalized, we could resume combat. Yes, this made perfect sense.

For the first time in a long time, a feeling of euphoria came over me.  I was thrilled that in spite of the turmoil we were all living with, Josh would have what he deeply desired and deserved: celebrating his college graduation with his family — all together peacefully and joyously for what would be probably one of the last times — if not THE last time.

Unfortunately, that thought and fantasy died quickly.