As I approach the end of my 80th year of living, I came to a realization. For most of my biological offspring, I am no more than a sperm donor rather than the father that loved, nourished, protected, and provided for them. This dawned on me when spending time with family history. I have piles of records about my ancestors (and theirs) and personal possessions handed down that I deeply treasure.

In reality, my branch of the “Blacklidge” family tree has ended with me. One offspring earlier returned both a book about family genealogy and the beautiful roll top desk that was his great grandfather’s — the book now is in the public library and the desk is treasured by his uncle. Another was dishonest in a family business partnership with me. All have made the choice of non-acceptance of my choice of divorce from their mother nearly 40 years ago. Yet, two of them in their lives chose divorce; one multiple times. My decision 40 years ago was to live my life with a partner whom I love and for whom I am thankful and feel blessed every day.

All chose to blame me and their step-mother of over 32 years now for “family” disruption. None lived the marital relationship between their mother and me which began when I was only 19 — hardly a mature adult but rather a very confused and depressed young male. All have chosen to side solely with their mother and her stories.

When their mother was living 2,000 miles away in California, things were different. A beginning was made toward a blended, loving family — that is what we wanted. We wanted to include all, including her, if all behaved as respectful, mature, caring, loving adults. But when she returned to Indiana, that was not to be. Chosen sides were set in concrete never to change with walls always up and relationships severed. The stream of insults and affronts never ended.

As a result, the loss and sorrow has been great. It is not only tragic to lose connection with one’s own bio offspring, but even worse to not be a part of sharing the lives of grandchildren. The grandchildren will never know the loss, not of their choosing, they have suffered. Family ties were irreparably severed. It is like a death.

For those who are facing a divorce, particularly for any offspring, I offer some thoughts. Consider carefully before taking one side or another. Consider that you, with certainty, do not know the extent and details of a marital relationship between any two other people. Consider that stories told may well be tainted, untrue, fabricated, self-serving or incomplete. Consider that you have not walked in the shoes of another….. ever. Consider that every truth may yet to be told.

A thought comes to me: “Judge not, lest ye be judged”.

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