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The Doting Dad


In the mid-70s, Tom and Maureen were well off and lived in suburbia. They had one of those modern Brady Bunch houses that begged for children and a station wagon, but they had a problem. Try as they might, they could not conceive.  After several years of trying, they decided to adopt. Adoption was expensive, but not if you had a good job and were motivated. Tom had a good job, and they were definitely motivated.

After five years of saving and five more years of applying, they finally got a beautiful little towheaded girl. They named her Emily, and she was the apple of Tom’s eye. Emily was adored. Tom would often say with pride, “I can’t say ‘no’ to her.” And Emily must have heard. Ponies, trips, lavish toys and parties-—everything she wanted—Tom made sure she got.

Emily’s first wedding was lavish and produced one child and a fairly quick divorce. Soon after, Emily had another child from another relationship. Eager and willing grandparents, Tom and Maureen bussed the children where they needed to go.

But as he soon learned, even a well-to-do parent can only spend so much.

The grandchildren were as willful as their mother. When a toddler escaped a car seat, Maureen turned to wrestle with him, veered over the center lane and drove into the back of another vehicle.

Paralyzed from the shoulders down, Maureen now needed expensive therapy and home care, which Tom provided at the cost of his own health and the upkeep of their once immaculate home.

In the meantime, Emily went from job to job and relationship to relationship, until she accumulated six children from four men and then added three more belonging to her fifth common-law husband.

Tom was sick at heart, worn out physically and financially strapped. Finally, he grasped at a final, desperate solution. 

He mortgaged his house to buy another separate house for Emily’s brood. Maybe a nice home with a big yard could provide the stability needed so the family could make a go of it. It was a big risk made out of love and desperation, and it did not work.

It’s hard to say whether financial hardship caused Tom’s health breakdown, or whether Tom’s health breakdown caused financial hardship, but the death of Tom and Maureen and the foreclosure and loss of both houses happened within a two-year time span. Emily’s latest husband faded out of the picture and left Emily with six kids and no estate, no nothing.

Emily’s blond hair now has wisps of gray; she has a hardened look that would no doubt wrench Tom’s heart. The whole story is tragic unless somewhere a younger family reads this and take to heart the lesson.

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