How do you define happiness? What makes you happy? Money? A big house? A big fancy car? Maybe a lucrative career? Or something else…
What makes me happy most of all is love. I need someone to love and I need to be loved. It seems I have been looking for love my whole life. Usually in the wrong places or with the wrong person. Before any of my ex-lovers get insulted, what I mean by wrong places is that there was nothing inherently wrong or evil with that person. It is just they were not what I needed and I was not what they needed. In situations like that, the best thing you can do is move on.
I have been married four times, divorced three times and have had several other non-binding relationships. Not that I consider marriage something nonbinding. Human relationships are not written in stone. God has nothing to do with our interpersonal relationships. We manage to screw those up all on our own. Lord knows, I’ve done it enough times in my life. Nothing to be proud of, but also nothing to beat myself up about either. Relationships come and relationships go. That is human nature or nurture, whichever you choose.
Of my four marriages, only the fourth one has lasted more than 10 years. The second and the third came close but never quite made it to the 10th anniversary. The first one didn’t even make it to the first anniversary. That marriage should never of happened. We got married for the wrong reasons. She was pregnant. We hardly knew each other. As it turned out, we were totally incompatible. She had expectations I could never meet and I had expectations she could not meet. We got married because she was pregnant and we thought that was the right thing to do. Boy, is that the misguided principle. Better to do what my second wife did when she got pregnant a year or two before we met. She got an abortion.
Some of you are probably offended by that comment. Some of you believe abortion is murder and should be illegal. I understand that position. But what I do not understand are those people who claim they support the “right to life,” but have no problem with sending their sons off to die for or having someone who commits a crime executed. If you are in favor of the right to life, then be damn consistent about it. I personally do not support the idea of abortion in most cases, but I do not feel it is my right or duty to tell a woman what she should or should not do with her body, even if I was the one who got her pregnant. Had my first wife wanted an abortion (which we did discuss), I would have supported her in that as I did try to support her when she decided to have the baby. We ultimately put the baby up for adoption the day it was born because we were already in divorce proceedings. We both felt this was best for that baby.
Giving up a child is a very difficult thing to do. I should know, right? It has been nearly 50 years since that baby was born and I still have some regrets about what we did. But I still feel it was the best thing for that child.
Speaking of children, having children to love and being loved by your children is totally amazing. There is nothing in the world that matches that feeling. Not surprising, since they are your flesh and blood. But, as any parent will tell you, the relationship between a parent and a child can be very difficult at times. Sometimes parents make horrible mistakes with their children. After all, as the cliché goes, children do not come with an owner’s manual. Especially with your first child, it is often a matter of trial and error. In my case, it was probably more error than trial. My relationship with my daughter, my firstborn, became so strained when she turned 20, that I told her she needed to move out before one of us killed the other. Both of us have rather strong tempers and short fuses. Two people like that are not the best combination in the world, especially when one thinks they have the right to make the rules, which is what I thought, and to some extent still do, although not as strongly as I used to.
I paid the price for my errors with my daughter. Three months or so after our last argument, when I threw her out, I had a pulmonary edema/heart attack/kidney failure. I ended up in the intensive care unit for a week, totally unaware of what was going on. I have very few memories of that week. I spent the next week, once I started breathing on my own and didn’t have a tube down my throat, in the cardiac unit at the hospital trying to get my strength back. My daughter did come visit me in the hospital. She even brought me flowers, although the nurses would not let me have them in my room because of my breathing issues. I remember one visit, the only one she made that second week. We had what I think was a rather innocuous conversation about a pantsuit she had bought for herself. I don’t think I said anything hurtful. I certainly hope not. If I did, Heidi, and you are reading this, I truly am sorry. I suspect they had me seriously sedated while I was in intensive care and it took me quite some time to get my full mental faculties back.
Heidi came to visit after I got home. I believe that was shortly after Easter of 2012. Five years ago. That’s the last time I saw Heidi. I have no idea where she is or what she’s doing. I only hope and pray that she is well and happy. Hopefully, someday she may be willing to attempt a reconciliation. I would more than welcome it.
Fortunately, I learned from my mistakes with Heidi. My relationship with my sons is quite good. I have worked very hard the last five years to be a better father than I was before. I don’t think I was really all that bad, but there is always room for improvement when you talk about being the parent. I think that part of my problem with Heidi was that I tended to act toward her in some of the same ways that my father did toward me. My father was born and raised in Eastern Europe. He was quite strict, some might even say he was a bit abusive. My father and mother both believed in the old axiom, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” I never was very happy about getting spanked, yet somehow I tended to forget that when I became a parent. I also yelled a lot. I still do a bit. Lol! But, for all their strictness, I knew my parents loved me as well as my brother and my sister. It took me a long time to come to understand that. My parents did the best they knew how, based on their own experience as a child. I was their firstborn, just like my daughter is mine. My parents improved as parents with my brother and my sister who were younger than I am. Just as I have, hopefully, improved with my sons who are younger than Heidi. I know she still loves me and I still love her in our own ways. That makes me happy, as does the love I feel and receive for and from my sons.
But the real source of all my happiness is my wife, Elizabeth. We have been married almost 26 years now. We have lived together for almost 27 you. Through it all, Elizabeth has been my rock and my solvation. I doubt I would still be alive today if it were not for Elizabeth. Yes, my children are very important to me, but I would have no children were it not for Elizabeth. She is the source of all my happiness and for that I have no way to think her. There are no words that can express how I feel about this woman. She truly is the love of my life. Happiness is, for me, Elizabeth.