2018-10-11 Hard Truths

Dear Joseph and Lucia,

There have been some things on my mind I would like to get off my chest. At a casual glance at the letters I write to you, it would appear that I’m living a happy and carefree life. Working a dream job and travelling the world with my adopted family. On the surface this is true, but underneath I spend every day as only half a man. The half that is missing is “Dad”. For many years, I was unable to cope with this fact and nearly lost myself to addiction and misery. It was only through the love from Michele and a desire to be a dad that I was able to pull out of it.

Over the course of the last several years, I’ve become acquainted with the term “Parental Alienation”. I strongly suggest you look into it. It is a situation where one parent (usually the custodial one) goes out of their way to demonize the other parent in an effort to gain the children’s devotion strictly to themselves. This is done by constantly saying really bad things about the other parent that casts doubt and fear in the children’s minds toward the estranged parent. I’ve read countless stories of this happening over and over again. The legal system takes a blind eye towards it and only concerns itself with making sure child support is paid (which is where they can make money). The long term emotional effects on the children are significant and can take a lifetime to overcome.

That being said, I would like to provide you with some Truths that might run counter to what you’ve been told:

· Truth: There was never any inappropriate action taken on Lucia when she was young. The medical evidence, legal investigations, and evaluations all show nothing ever happened. I have the documentation and proof to show that if my word isn’t sufficient. The only evidence you’ve ever been provided is repeated stories told to you by your mother since you can remember. Tell a lie enough times and it becomes truth in the mind at least.

· Truth: I’m not actively trying to disturb your life or hunting you. I’ve known where you live ever since your mother left me. If I had wanted to disturb your life, it would have been easy for me to do so at any time over the last 10 years. I’ve chosen to stand back and let you make your own decisions. Any interference on my part would have only confirmed your mother’s accusations that I’m out to get you. You had already been through enough and I haven’t wanted to cause any more damage.

· Truth: I’ve paid all child support that was asked. There have been several periods where I was unemployed due to barely holding on to my own sanity that I wasn’t able to pay. But as soon as I was working again, I’ve made good on all back payments. All totaled, I’ve paid over $200,000 in payments over the years. That is a substantial amount of money. Any hardship you may have endured has only been a result of your mother mismanaging what’s been given her. I’ve never abandoned you.

· Truth: I know where you are now and if you aren’t directly reading these letters, you are at least aware of them. This is the venue which I chose to reach out to you. My words are uncensored, truthful, and meant for you. Given the fact that ANYONE on the internet can read them, they are only directed to you two. As a matter of fact, people all over the globe read them daily. I know who reads the blog, when they read it, and from where they read it. That being said, either you guys are reading it or your friends are. In either case, this is the one letter I want you to read most.

· Truth: I’m an alcoholic. I’m in recovery and have been sober for over two years now. That has been my coping mechanism for missing you. It’s nearly killed me several times, but in the end it does no one any good for me to be drunk and not useful. I’ve had many periods of sobriety over the past years, but have slipped over and over. Most recently, this put me in the hospital with a failing liver and very near to death. I suspect God has tired of my drinking and lifted the desire from me so I can be here for you guys when you finally reach out to me. This is the hardest for me to say publicly, but I owe you the truth.

This all might be uncomfortable to read, but trust me, it’s even more uncomfortable to write. I urge you to consider what I’ve told you and compare with an open mind to what you’ve been told by your mother. Ask your friends or priest about what I’ve said. Get other people’s opinions. Shine a light on this. If you are a friend of Joseph’s or Lucia, find a way to share this letter with them. Print it out and let them read it.

And now for something totally stupid on my part, but necessary. I know you guys likely don’t use the internet so giving you my email address has been futile. So here is my phone number: (214) 317-2461. If you call, my phone won’t answer since it’s an unknown number, but if you text me, I’ll get it and respond. You can ask me any question you like and I’ll answer to the best of my ability. If you are a friend of my children, I’ll do the same. If you are a stranger, please be respectful and don’t try anything stupid like pretending to be them. That would just be mean and wrong. I’m not doing this lightly.

And as always, I’ll wait for you guys. I’ll work hard to be the best man and father that you deserve. Please take a step outside the shell of fear you’ve been raised in and reach out. I promise you, I will not force myself into your life. It can go at your pace. You will be in control.

Love,
Dad

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2018-9-2 Getting settled back in

Dear Joseph and Lucia,

I’m back from vacation and it has been a crazy time.  I think my favorite part of the whole adventure was the day I got to spend in Iceland by myself.  I didn’t have a lot of time, so I didn’t try to go anywhere other than Keflavik where I stayed the night.  I explored the coastline.  Discovered a real Giantess’ Cave (for real). Watched the fishing boats bringing in their catches just off a peninsula. Enjoyed a wonderful native meal of fish. And generally poked my nose in various stores and chatted with the locals.  I’ve posted a few of my favorite pictures below.

Once I got back I received some real good news.  Just before I left, I took a really hard test to become certified in LabVIEW (the language I program in).  I’m already a certified developer, but this test was to be an architect. Turns out that I not only passed the test, but I made a 90%.  This was fantastic news.  It’s the highest level of certification.  I had studied and practiced for weeks prior to the test.  I attempted it last year, but failed. So, this time around, I went in prepared and it paid off.

Work is still incredibly challenging.  SpaceX is a very fast developing company and as a result, we are always improving our processes and workflow.  In the week I was out, a lot had changed and now I feel like I’m in permanent catch-up mode.  It’s very hard work and I love it.  Its all worth it when I can hear the rumbling of an engine fire up out on a test stand.

I came back up to DFW last week to pick the girls up from the airport and take them home.  After I left Europe, they journeyed east and visited Holland where it dips down between Belgium and Germany.  I was almost jealous until they reminded me they were stuck at the airport in Iceland for a few hours and never got to get out and about.

Well, I’m at the end of my summer journeys and trying to settle back into daily life.   And as usual, I imagine you guys being here.  You know I chat with you two in my head all the time.  I wonder what you are up to.  Joseph, I know you’re in college somewhere exploring and learning from the world outside of Woodville. Lucia, I know you are enjoying your Senior year of high school.  That can be a double edged sword, full of excitement, but a lot of drama.  Through all this, please know you’re always in my thoughts.  If you ever want to reach out to me, but don’t want to post here, you can always email me directly at markus.randel@outlook.com.  I promise I won’t flood you with a bunch of emails  and I’ll respect your wishes.  The rules for dialog are completely in your hands.  But until you are ready, I’ll wait.

Love,
Dad

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2018-08-17 Greetings from Europe

Dear Joseph and Lucia,

I’m writing to you this morning from Tervuren, Belgium. Michele and the girls and I came over so all the family could get together. Michele’s mum and sisters live in Belgium, so it’s a nice treat for her to get to come visit and be with her family. It’s been four years since the last time we were here.

We’ve only been here for 5 days so far and it’s already been quite the adventure. We flew in via WOW airlines. That’s an Icelandic airline so every flight to Europe is routed through Reykjiavic. We didn’t get to see much during the layover on the way here, but next week, I’ll get to spend a whole day there. I can’t wait. Michele and the girls are staying another week. I just don’t have that much vacation time yet at work.

The day after we got here, we all packed our bags again and headed off to the beach where Michele’s sister is on holiday with her kids. It was a fun 2 days in Knocke-Heist. We walked a LOT! We stayed in a rental cottage half a mile from the beach, so if we wanted anything, we had to strap on our shoes and hit the road. We even rented a bicycle built for 6 people. It might look nice in the pictures but it was hard work.

Michele has two younger sisters: Vicki and Elizabeth. They each have children between 8 and 12: Joshua, Nandi, and James. The two boys are full of energy and always up to no-good. Luckily, I brought my laptop with a whole bunch of movies loaded up, so they got to watch Black Panther, Coco, Lego Batman and the such. It gave all the grown ups a well needed break and time to catch up and relax.

On the way back, we stopped in Bruges for the day. That is probably my favorite place in Belgium. It’s really old and full of huge churches, canals, chocolate and lace shops, and fine restaurants. All the roads are cobblestone so after a long day walking, my feet were killing me. It’s ironic. I’ve gotten more exercise on vacation than I ever do at home.

Yesterday, I dropped the girls off downtown Brussels so Michele could meet up with an old classmate of hers who came down from Holland to see her. Mel and Rachael went along too. They got rooms at the Hilton right next to the Grand Place. I hung out with them for a while before heading back to Michele’s mothers house in Tervuren.

It is so lovely here. A hot day might get into the 80’s. Right now I’m sitting in the sun room listening to the city slowly wake up and the last of the rain from last night drip off the trees. Linda (Michele’s mum) has a wonderful garden full of life and little secrets if you look close enough.

So as always, my thoughts drift to you guys and how much I wish I could share this with you. It’s just such a great experience that stays with you for the rest of your life. I hope and pray that one day, I can bring you two over here and show you all these wonderful things. But until then, I’ll wait. You are both getting old enough to start wanting real answers. I’m here anytime you want them. Just ask. But until then, just know, you are always in my thoughts and I love both of you so very much.

Love,

Dad

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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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2018-6-9 Summer Break

Dear Joseph and Lucia,

Summer time is in full bloom and this looks like its going to be a busy summer. I already started it off with an extended holiday weekend on Memorial Day and my birthday.  We all had fun.  What better way to spend my 51st birthday than to go see the latest Star Wars movie.  We also went down to Waco together and hung out at my former boss’s country pond where there was a lot of swimming, gun shooting, and star gazing after the sunset.  But the funnest time was spent re-organizing my comic book collection. I’m a little odd like that.

Next weekend I’ve got tickets to go see Monte Montgomery play live.  He’s a fantastic guitarist out of Austin.  He never got that big or famous so it’s not a big venue which is fine with me. It’s going to be more like a small dinner theatre.  And for my birthday, Michele got us tickets to see Fleetwood Mac in Austin… next FEBRUARY!  Oh well.  I can wait.  But that should be fun.  I know almost all their older songs since I’ve been singing along with their music since I can remember.

Work is going well.  I’m finding my place within the group and making friends.  I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing a Hawaiian shirt everyday. For me, it’s like every day is a day at the beach.  My desk has plenty of Lego projects including a scale model of the Apollo Saturn V rocket and big foam Hulk hands.  But all fun aside, I’m enjoying the work.  I end up getting all the work that everyone else hates, which is fine with me.  A lot of it is very repetitive and meticulous requiring focus and NO MISTAKES.  In a way, I get the same gratification as when organizing comics.  I’m slowly taking something messy and making it right. And the perk of getting to watch rocket engines test firing right outside my window is amazing.

Well,  I need to get around and start getting some chores done around the house.  That lawn isn’t going to mow itself.  I hope you both plan to have a wonderful summer break.  Spend it with friends. Enjoy yourselves.  My greatest wish for both of you is that you can find peace and happiness in life. I think that is the most precious gift God can give us in this life.

So, until next time, I’ll still wait for you.  I’m always here with answers to your questions.

Love,
Dad

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2018-04-23 The latest news… good and bad

Dear Joseph and Lucia,

This is always such a fun time of year.  As the temperatures slowly get warmer, the plant life blooms and everything turns green again.  It’s also the time of year we get the pool ready for another season of swimming fun.  Every year I do, I always hope this is the summer one of you two will reach out and come and enjoy this with us.  At first it was really hard, figuring out how to take the filter apart (and back together) and getting the pool clear of all the stuff that makes its way into it during winter.  But this year, it was pretty easy.  Michele and I have it down to a science and were able to get it all done yesterday morning.  It’s really gratifying to see the water clear up and the little water fall run at full flow.

We also went a bit outside our comfort zone this weekend and went to a concert downtown Saturday night.  The Foo Fighters played at an outdoor venue and I was able to get us tickets for the lawn.  I doubt this is a band your mother would approve of.  They play rock and roll quite loudly and use a lot of foul language.  Of course, it rained off and on throughout the concert.  We had rain gear, but that still didn’t keep us dry.  The band played for 3 hours straight.  We all danced and sang and didn’t care about being soaked.  A friend of mine from work, Richard, came with us.  Michele and Rachael bailed before it was over, but Richard and I stuck it out.  I haven’t sung that loud for that long in a very long time.  I hope you guys are able to enjoy different kinds of secular music now and not just limited to church music.  There is a whole world of experiences you will miss out on if you don’t try new things.  Hopefully, going to public school introduced you to friends that shared this with you.

I’m not sure if you guys know or not, but, your grandmother passed away last week.  Irma Foreman, your mom’s mother, held on for quite a while, but finally passed Wednesday, the 19th.  Your Aunt Trish has been amazing.  She took care of everything.  I’m sad to say I couldn’t make it to the funeral.  It would not have been a good idea to go.  A bright spot is Trish came across some old photos your grandmother kept from a few of our visits.  I’ve added them to this post.  When I look at them, it really digs deep how much I miss both of you.  You guys mean so much to me.  It’s taken 10 years for me to be able to live a “normal” life without you two.  I just do the best I can to be the best father I can be so when you do finally reach out, I’ll be there ready.  I’m waiting.

Love,
Dad

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April 10, 2018 – Just another update

Dear Joseph and Lucia,

Last August I wrote you about my adventures as a contractor at SpaceX.  At the time I was hoping for an extension to the contract.  Well, that did happen.  And then in January of this year, I was converted to a permanent full-time employee.  It was an honor considering they actually had to create a position for me.  Until now, there haven’t been any non-degreed programmers in the company.  So my official title is Software Specialist.  The work has been fantastic.  I still have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure this is real.  This is the dream job.  I work hard every day to make sure I stay here and don’t slip up.

It is a bit of a bummer that the work has me living in Waco during the week.  I only go home to Michele and Rachael on the weekends.  But, it makes for some really fun times together when I’m home.  Besides, I’m never bored during the week.  Work takes up almost all my time.  In the evenings I can relax and play with Lego’s and watch all the science fiction movies and bad re-runs I want.

Michele is doing very well at her job too.  Since last time I wrote, she’s been promoted to Director at her hotel in Frisco. She’s a big-wig now.  I’m still not sure why she puts up with me, but I’m grateful she does.  Racheal is doing well also.  She’s gone back to school and is working two part time jobs.  She still lives at home, but is helping out a lot and picks up the slack for me not being around during the week.  Melynda is off on her own and has been for a while.  We are very proud of her.  She’s getting her degree this fall and is already working full time in advertising.  She stops by occasionally and stirs it up around the house.

As I mentioned in my last letter, even though I don’t write to you as often as I used to, it doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about you guys.  Not a day goes by that I don’t have conversations with both of you in my head and pray for your well-being.  I’m comforted to know Lucia is still in Woodville and doing well with her grades.  Joseph, I only wish I knew where you were going to school.  I have no intention of intruding into your life.  As an adult, it is always your decision when to reach out to me if you ever want.  Just know, I’m not the monster you have been told I am.  Just read all these letters.  If you doubt them, reach out to Michele or Rachael or Melynda.  They are all on Facebook and can be contacted.  I’m sure any one of them would be glad to answer any questions you might have.  Both of you are loved dearly by a whole family you’ve never met.  Please don’t miss out on that. (oh, and if you happen to be dating Joseph Allen Randel or Mary Lucia Randel and am reading this out of curiosity… please share this with them)

Ok. Enough with me being pushy.  I’ll be patient and wait as always.

Love,
Dad

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