My son was stationed in England with the Air Force for 7 years. While he was there, he met and fell in love with a very lovely girl. Sarah and her daughter, Mia, who was 18 months old, moved in with my son and grandson. She was in the middle of an ugly divorce from her first husband at the time.
Two weeks after she moved in with Seth, her ex called and asked if he would have Mia for the weekend for a visit. He came to pick her up at the appropriate time, but when Sunday evening came, Mia did not return home. On Monday morning, Sarah went to the town two and a half hours away to collect her daughter. When she got there, she found out that the ex had arranged for a child custody hearing, of which Sarah was never notified. The end result of the hearing was that the ex got full custody of Mia, with no visitation rights for Sarah because she failed to appear at the hearing.
Sarah has grieved for her daughter ever since, and in hindsight, I think she may have blamed Seth for losing her. I know this sounds insane, illogical, but where a mother’s love for her child is concerned, sometimes nothing seems logical.
I have known for some time that their marriage was not a perfectly happy one. One or the other of them have called me over the years to confide in me, to ask me for advice, to just pour out their frustrations to someone who would listen. I have tried to be fair and open with both of them, sometimes even feeling more akin to Sarah’s needs than my sons simply because I understand what betrayal and the loss of a child feels like.
The summer of 2007 we worked in Pennsylvania just to be close to them because they returned to the states. We spent almost every off day with them, spending the nights at their home, cooking, playing dominoes, scrabble, watching movies, and just being with them. When our grandson, Owen, was born in September 2007, we were there as soon as we could be, helping out when Sarah had to return to the hospital with a viral infection. Owen was even named after FabGrandpa for his middle name. We were in love with Sarah and Owen, as much as in-laws could love a daughter in law.
For the last few months, Sarah has talked about going to England, because her ex contacted her, and said that now that Mia is five years old, she is asking about her mother and wants to see her. I have been supportive of her going, because I thought it would be good for her to see the child, and have some kind of relationship with her. But, my son has been telling me that Sarah was calling her ex, and making plans to go back with him. I found that hard to believe, because Sarah was telling me that she loves my son and was only talking to her ex to make arrangements to see her daughter.
So, when Sarah called me last month and asked me for a loan to buy her ticket to England, I happily sent her it to her. She assured me that she was only going to be gone for two weeks, and that they would pay me back in December.
Yesterday, my son called me. He said Sarah left on Monday, on her jet plane to England. When she did not call him to let him know that she and Owen had arrived safely, he started calling the phone numbers that were in their phone. The last phone number she called before she left turned out to be her ex. The ex answered the phone and said, “Yes, she’s here. And she’s not coming back.” Seth said he did talk to Sarah, and she said the same thing.
I have many feelings about this turn of events. One is that I have been betrayed. I feel so bad that I am the one who gave her the money to do this. Yes, if I had not sent it, she would have gotten it somewhere, somehow—but to call me, the mother of the man she left, for help in leaving him, that feels so really really wrong to me. And if I feel betrayed by this, how much so does my son feel?
I also feel so much less of a Fab grandmother and more of a Fraudulent grandmother, knowing that I had any part to play in the loss of our grandson in this way. I have spent so much time, counseling her over the phone, telling her that she needed to get some professional help, marriage counseling, grief counseling, a therapist for herself.
And almost every time I talked to her, she would tell me troubling things about my son, that I found really hard to believe, but tried to because she sounded so convincing and because I loved her so. And she would always say, “I am not a liar, this really happened.” In just those words. Why would I not believe her? Until now, when I think back over those conversations, and those I had with my son, and wonder what was true and what was not?
I really think the signs were there, and I just didn’t want to acknowledge them. For one, after I sent her the money, she stopped answering my emails and chat requests. Then, she deleted her MySpace account. And then the day before she left, she also deleted her FaceBook account. We have used those two for sharing pictures of the children for as long as I have known her. So, what am I to think now? My son said the last thing she did before she left was to have their home phone number changed. That part is really strange to me, I have no idea what to think of that.
I also can not understand a woman’s motive for reconciling a relationship with a man who treated her so cruelly as far as her child is concerned. She told me many times that her ex was controlling, and that she had no freedom at all when she was with him. That he left her with no money, no car, no phone, so that she was isolated and had no one but her child to spend time with until he came home. But now I wonder about that, too. Was there another reason why she lost custody of her daughter? But then I think, she was an excellent mother to Owen and Michael, her step-son. I am just so confused, I don’t know what to think.
I know my son is not perfect, but neither is she. They weren’t perfectly happy, but who really is? All marriages, especially in the beginning, when there is little money and new babies, can be hard to be a part of. So, please, help me make sense of this nonsense…..