In November of 2020, Heather decided to get a divorce. Things just weren’t “working out in her marriage.”
I didn’t know at the time that the long range plan was for Gary to leave me as well, so they could move in together, share a single brussel sprout for dinner, and have orgies, with no obligations. Of course I didn’t know that. Nobody did.
All Heather said was that she would need to quit her newly acquired teaching job to take over the family business since her husband, Stephen* was planning to move states away.
This is the part that seemed outlandish to me. “He still has a teenager here,” I said to Gary. “He can’t just leave her!”
“She’s already like 15,” he said to me.
As if 15 years was all anyone should need from a father, all anyone should expect.
I just stared at him for a moment before saying “But he’s her dad. He still has responsibilities. She still needs a dad. You need your parents for a lot longer than 15 years.”
I didn’t know how to explain this part of humanity.
I smiled, “I mean, I still need my parents, and I’m over 40!”
He shrugged, said he didn’t know.
I couldn’t let it go.
“Fathers have responsibilities,” I said.
“Adolescents and young adults need their parents,” I said.
“Even if you accidentally got someone pregnant and they had a baby when you were 17 years old, you are still a parent to that child for the rest of your life,” I tried.
I thought of our own kids, 10, 13, 17.
“Humph,” he shook his head questioningly. “I’m going to have to think about that one.
I walked away, my gut trying to tell me something. I shook out my head. I was just confused, about Stephen, and how terrible it was that he planned on leaving his daughter.
If I had listened just a little closer, I would have heard the not-so-gentle whispers of the (deadbeat-dad-in-training) fatherhood red flag.