2015-07-08 / Columns

Mike Reese

“I was just thinking”

This is a story of regret, unfortunately a true story. It’s about a man I met only a couple of times many years ago. He’s 71 years old now and his story has left innocent people injured by his mistakes. He left his wife and children for another woman. His children were very young when he turned his back and slammed the door in their faces and never looked back. It’s taken many years, but today he now admits that walking away from his family was the worst move of his life. He realizes now what he missed, what his children missed.

“It’s too late” are three words that none of us ever want to repeat. It’s not too late if you missed that trophy buck. You can always hunt again another day. But once your children, the children you deserted, are grown and now have your grandchildren, and once they are moving forward in successful careers, it is too late; it’s just too damn late. In this case let’s review what he’s missed: birthdays, ball games, first dates, being there when your child is sick, graduations, vacations, hunting/fishing/golf trips, marriages, grandchildren being born, and having a wife who would have stood by your side through thick and thin who, instead, had to raise your children without you, and did a great job. None of these things can ever be repeated for you. You just chose not to be there.

Yes, these are the things he missed and he’s finally realized, at seventy-one, that he ……messed up.

But there is a silver lining in this cloud. This deserting Dad, for the sake of his children, was very lucky (and his children were lucky too). A real man, an uncle, stepped in, and more than filled this deserter’s shoes. The children never lacked for a father’s attention, but only because of their uncle. He deservedly got the calls, gifts, and attention every Father’s Day. But somewhere deep in their soul, the children will forever have a large void with a big sign hanging on that void that asks one question, WHY? Of course, no answer will ever satisfy them. And now, deserting Dad realizes that he will never be able to give them a satisfying answer and, again, it’s just too late.

But here’s the sad end to this story. There’s a 71-year-old man who travels alone to NASCAR races. Live racing is “his thing”. How much better would it be for him if he had some of his children and grandchildren to travel with him to those races in his final years? I hope he thinks about that often as he travels to and from the races, alone. I bet he does. But there’s still that nagging, but true, little sentence again. It’s too late.

And one more thing; the woman that this 71-year-old man abandoned his family for, they’re still together to this day. She’s 83 now. Yep, you read that right.

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