Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Blessed

BLESSED is the word I am going to use to describe my little corner of the Universe. Mostly because when my family is happy, I am happy. After a long, grueling, hurtful and unnecessary three year custody battle, my son, Christian is finally able to spend an abundant amount of quality time with his children. The conclusion I've arrived at.... Family law sucks if there are vengeful people on the other side of the aisle. Mostly for the children and fathers but grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles suffer too.  For almost four years my son and his children were only allowed to see each other once a week for a mere four hours. Half of that time was spent driving to and from the courthouse exchange center to pick them up. Most of the family photos on our side of the family were taken in the car or at a restaurant because a meal together and a trip to the park is all they had time for. I have screen shots of 5 minute FaceTime conversations I had with them and they have relatives in Texas that Jackie has never met.

Jackie and Andrew
Weekly four hour visit with their dad

I was awarded one weekend a couple of years ago and Andrew got to come and stay with me for a few days last summer, but we never saw them on holidays so Christian would have "Christmas in July" for them. He put up a blue tree and showered them with gifts and FaceTimed me so I could watch them open gifts.

Jackie - Christmas in July July 2018

Andrew - Christmas in July July 2018

On these four hour visits, Andrew would jump in the car and say "It has been 10080 minutes since the last time I saw you and that is a really long time when you are counting minutes!" Then he wouldn't even have time to be happy to be with his dad before it was time to pack up and leave again.

Making the best of a four hour visitation
Christina, Andrew, Christian and Jackie

Christian had no idea how horrible a divorce could be. This wasn't the experience we or any of our friends and family in Texas had. Our mindset has always been that when you have children together, you become family and families take care of each other. Families may disagree, but it is a civil family affair. You don't take each other to court. Christian was expecting the kind of divorce that had been mirrored to him and told Andrew in the beginning that they would see each other just as much, but his mother and he just wouldn't be living in the same house. That is far from what came to pass. He spent an unbelievable amount of time in court, thousands and thousands of dollars that should have been spent on the children. And for what?

Thank God, there was finally a court ruling, no thanks to Christian's attorney and Christian was granted overnight visitations with the children. The kids now have their own bedrooms in their new house with their dad and they have sleep overs.

Andrew and Jackie at their new house with their dad

When I went to visit them in St Louis last month, I arrived during their weekly piano lessons. The feeling we had when we saw each other and hugged will last a lifetime.
Andrew at piano lessons when we first saw each other. Heaven

Jackie at piano lessons when we first saw each other. Pure Joy

Jackie at piano lessons 

Andrew at piano lessons 

I can see the change in Andrew's face, just enjoying being in the presence of his dad. No longer spending the whole time stressing that the time is going to end soon. They can enjoy the simple pleasures of throwing a ball in the yard, watching a movie or just chillin' on the couch.

Andrew chillin'


Jackie in her princess bed at her daddy's house.

Last week Christian took Jackie swimming and took her to pick out a new pink bike with training wheels. They went bike riding and to dinner. There is really no other way to feel but grateful and blessed about spending quality time with them. Having breakfast, lunch and dinner... play time, rest time and everything in between with the sound of children's laughter in the house. BLESSED and GRATEFUL pretty much sums it up.

Andrew, Christian
Jackie
At Taco Circus

I started to write a blog about our journey over two years ago and then realized it was just too hard to even write. My heart condition worsened during that time and it stressed me out to think about. Meanwhile, I have been following the horrible stories of the desperate immigrants being held in detention centers at the Texas/Mexico border, separated from their families. My heart just aches for them. When we were separated from Andrew and Jackie, the empathy I felt for these poor immigrants was unbearable. They've experienced hardships on a level that no human should have to endure. Making incomprehensible long treks from some of the most violent countries in Central America. Arriving at the border beyond exhausted, hungry, thirsty, dirty, tired and scared, hoping for solace and their situation only gets worse when they arrive in an unfriendly land where few speak their language. Because I am a genealogist, it takes me back to the long journeys my own family has taken over the centuries from Spain to Mexico then to New Mexico and then to Texas and at last my son landed in Missouri. I recognize on a very deep level how much courage it takes to risk leaving your home to make a better life for yourself and your family. I've experienced the judgement of taking the road less traveled. I admire anyone who is willing to go out on a limb to start new beginnings.

I can't help but think of the words of Willie Nelson “We are all the same. There is no difference anywhere in the world. People are people. They laugh, cry, feel, and love, and music seems to be the common denominator that brings us all together. Music cuts through all boundaries and goes right to the soul.”

So, as for new beginnings, last weekend Christian closed his restaurant, Taco Circus for a day to take food to Willie's crew at The Hollywood Casino Amphi Theatre in St Louis where they were playing at the Outlaw Music Festival.
Christian and Lana Nelson

Christian and Willie
June 2019

To Christian it was more than having backstage passes. It was being of service to the Nelson family. Willie has been his spiritual leader since he was a child and it was important to just feel the blessing as he entered into a new phase of his business. This weekend Taco Circus closed the Bevo Mill location and will be opening at a new location On The Hill in St Louis next month. He is feeling blessed. I am feeling blessed. Excited about the changes in our lives and praying for continued success, happiness and quality time with Andrew and Jackie.


Jackie, Andrew and Christian at Ted Drew, St Louis

I will end this blog with
"I Love My Life!" 



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