BUILDING BRIDGES

Joseph and Lucia,

I have waited for a long time to write this letter to you both, probably because I have so much to say and it’s hard to start. The first thing I want you to know is that your father loves you more than he can probably express in any of his letters, and that not having had you in his life every day has caused him more pain than most people know how to cope with. I told him years ago to start writing to you and he has just now been able to start doing it.

A long time ago, in 1992, I met him and talked for a while about music, he knew much more than I did and I was a bit intimidated, but we seemed to have at least something in common and I looked forward to having him as a friend. I had played Piano, Violin, Flute and Cello when I was younger and your Dad had played lots of instruments too and liked classical music as well as all kinds of other music, as did I. Our potential friendship was not to be; within 6 months, your Dad met your Mum, got married (My gift to them was a honeymoon suite at the Hyatt Regency at Reunion) and the decision was made that they didn’t want to be a part of the Randel family any more, and went their separate way to forge their own lives, later on with you both. Those left behind really didn’t know anything about you, where you were or how you were or if your Dad realized that his brother and half-brother were starting families of their own. It was a very sad situation, and your Grandma and Grandpa, Mama Mickey and Papa Gene, were heartbroken that they did not get to see their youngest son and know about his life. Some really mean things were said and lots of feelings were hurt very badly. It always broke their hearts that they knew that they might not ever meet their grandchildren.

However, as everyone must, we all moved on with our lives, and then, one day, when everyone least expected it, we received a phone call from your Dad, saying that he was coming to reconcile and wanted to see us all. We were all willing to let bygones be bygones, and he drove all the way from where you were living, in Alabama, to Texas and we talked about all the years between 1992 and 2006 and all the things that had happened. Sadly, none of the Randel boys were very happy with their lives or first marriages, but after all was said and done, your Dad went back home to sort things out with your Mum and see what could be done.

When he got home, he was horrified to find that you had left with your Mum and as he thought you were only gone for a visit, he hoped for a long time that you would come back. After a while, I think he lost that hope and when he couldn’t talk with you, even over the ‘phone, he became very desperate, lonely and upset. He would tell me on the ‘phone that seeing your abandoned toys and your empty beds was more than he could deal with. He tried to be strong and keep things going, but it was hard for him to be so far away from family and have no-one home every night in a house that had been so full of life previously. After 14 years of sobriety, he succumbed to the disease that had haunted all of the Randel boys, alcoholism, and within months, lost everything – his job, the house and the worst thing you could ever lose as a parent – being a father to you, which had been the best part of his life. He moved back with his Mum and Dad and tried everything he could to try to find you, even hiring a Private Investigator. He even bought you Christmas presents for you the first Christmas you were apart. He was not allowed to send them to you, but I have them still, to give to you when we meet. He has spent the last years picking up the pieces of his broken life and putting them back together, it’s hard work to start again when you have lost so much.

I’ve heard wonderful stories about you both; Lucia, about your long hair getting caught in a bicycle wheel and that you were so brave and didn’t cry, and Joseph, about building rockets in the back yard. I’ve seen beautiful pictures of you both and can’t wait to meet you, as you both sound like wonderful young people. Please remember that no-one is perfect, including yourselves, and no-one is expecting you to be perfect, that would be impossible! Everyone in the world has made bad decisions, said and done things that they regret, and are sad about. Some people get so angry that things didn’t work out how they wanted that they break ties and walk away and have a really hard time forgiving and letting go. I believe that, In the end, it’s about accepting who we all are, with our shortcomings “warts and all”, as Mama Mickey used to say, and showing our love and appreciation to everyone that we can, whenever we can. There is certainly lots of love here with Mark and I to share, and as we both understand how hard it is to be far away from those that we love, we try to appreciate every moment that we have together and with those that we love, and look forward to sharing those moments with you.

Your Daddy is a very special man; last month, he took me and my daughters home to Belgium, I had not seen my Mum and Dad and sisters for 9 years and they had not seen Melynda and Rachael for 13 years. I’m sure it was a bit scary and uncomfortable for everyone, but it was a wonderful reunion and it was just like we had seen one another yesterday. We got to meet my niece Nandi Malyssa, and my nephews, James Marley and Joshua Valentine for the very first time, as they were not born 9 years ago. Also, there was another special reunion, my Grandad and his brother had a fight a long time ago – over 50 years ago, and didn’t speak again. After all those years, his brother’s Daughter and Grandson wanted to get to know us, and came to the Wedding Ceremony that your Dad and I had over there. So we built a bridge that had been broken for over 50 years – it was truly wonderful! Always remember, bridges may be broken now, but they can always be mended in the future, it just takes love and understanding, compassion and patience.

So, as your Papa Gene used to say: “Suggestion!” let’s do the best we can to be the best people we can be right now and hopefully, one day soon, we’ll get to meet you and have another, wonderful reunion and build lots of new bridges together!

Love,

Michèle

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