Dear Joseph and Lucia,

I have not written many posts on this blog, as I had mainly suggested this as a venue for your Dad to express his feelings, and let you know about his life, so that maybe one day, you would be able to read them and have “another side to the story”.

As you may have read earlier, I live very far away from my family and I very much relate to Mark’s pain to live far from his. However, I am able to sit at my computer at home and open a program called “Skype” and have a video chat with my Mum, Sisters, niece and nephews, which helps me stay as close as I can.

After our visit to Belgium in 2014, the following year, I was on a business trip to Austin and received a phone call from your Dad that was unexpected. My Mum had called him to say that my Father had passed away and that she was unable to get a hold of me. He knew that I would be very upset, but helped me set up Skype on his laptop that I was borrowing and put me in touch with my family, so that I could say goodbye to my Dad and mourn with my family over a long distance. He was very patient and understanding, as my initial reaction was to lash out at him and be impatient, it meant the world to me that he made it possible for me to “be there” at such a crucial time for my family.

We are now planning to go back for a visit this summer and I look forward to seeing how much my niece and nephews have grown in 4 years, and hug my sisters and my Mum over and over.

I had a fabulous relationship with my father, even though we had not been able to talk much the last few years, because he struggled talking over the phone due to the multiple strokes that he had suffered from over the years. He was pretty much bed-ridden for the last 10 years of his life. After he passed, I felt that there were still things unsaid, questions not answered, and that I would have wanted to know much more about him as a person. Don’t get me wrong, we talked a lot before I moved to the States and he always knew that I adored him, respected him and to this day I am astounded at what he was able to achieve in his life, with the many challenges he faced. You don’t really realize many things about being parents until you are one yourself. The phases of seeing your parents first as “all-knowing”, then as “knowing nothing” and then as “people, just like me, with weaknesses, feelings, strengths and shortcomings” is a normal rite of passage, you both are still working your way through those passages.

What I want to let you know with this post is that I wish with my entire being that you have an opportunity to say all the things you want to say to your father (good and bad), to ask all of the questions that you probably have, and to get to know him as the person that he is now and understand the person that he has been in the past. The feelings of regret that I had with my Dad, however minimal, is something that I do not wish upon you both.

Your Grandparents Mama Mickey & Papa Gene, Great Grandparents Gommi and Bill-Bill, and your Grandparents on your mother’s side, that you never had the chance to meet, or learn about, or hear stories from, loved you. There are stories that you need to hear from your other family, your Aunt Trisha, her Son and Daughter, and your other Aunt. Those stories will help you understand how you fit into the world and how people sometimes react to circumstances and make decisions that can change the course of a life.

If you ever want to hear any stories from my point of view, I’m here, with two willing ears to listen and open arms, no judgments, your terms. If you want to know about the type of person I am, look at my Facebook posts and reach out to any of my friends or colleagues.

PS: I’m very proud of your accomplishments – your Grades have always been spectacular and Joseph’s Band pictures and Lucia’s Long Distance Running pictures (for years, I’ve hunted for them on the internet for hours in the middle of the night, so Mark can see you) made us both very proud! As you saw at Joseph’s Graduation, we applaud your accomplishments and want to show our support from a distance, without disrupting your current lives or causing a fuss. I may be so bold as to suggest that you read about Parental Alienation, as there are many other people that have a similar life story to tell and it might be good to know of other people your age that have experienced similar life situations.

Lots of Love, Michele

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