The Cuter and Shorter Half and I were married in 1983. I was not a good husband and a not much better father to our children. Oh, I didn't beat them, drink up my paycheque, or run around with loose women, but I definitely wasn't 'present' for them either.
I had some very warped views on what it meant to be a husband and father. I know that 'toxic masculinity' has become a brickbat to throw at any man who actually acts like a man, but I think my views at the time would qualify as 'toxic'.
After years of strife, she finally 'divorced' me in 2004. Of course, as a Catholic, I refused to accept the possibility of a civil divorce. In fact, the only response I made to the divorce petition was a statement that what the court was purporting to do was impossible, but I ended it with, 'However, the Respondent is in full possession of his faculties and fully aware of the police power of the State of Kansas which is at the disposal of this Court and therefore will submit under this protest to any decree this Court issues.' I quoted Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Code of Canon Law! If you'd like to read it, here's a link to the original document, which I've saved in the cloud through several new computers:
After the 'divorce' was final, I began to lay siege to heaven. I invoked St Jude Thaddeus and St Rita of Cascia, the Patrons of difficult cases. I invoked my Guardian Angel and my Patrons. I prayed the Thirty Days Prayers to Our Lord, the Blessed Mother, and St Joseph. I said novenas to individual Saints and to the Holy Virgin under various titles, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, etc.
I never took off the wedding ring she had placed on my hand in 1983. I refused to give up! However, if you had asked me ten years ago if I thought we would ever reconcile I would have answered probably not, but I just kept on praying.
I only saw her twice in the years between the signing of the divorce papers and 2016. Once was at our son's wedding. I said hi to her. She grunted something and turned her back on me.
The other time was after I had returned from Canada and was living in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Our middle son was living with her, which I did not know. He PMed me on Facebook one day and said he'd like to see me. I told him great and we determined a day when he'd come to CB. On the day, I was waiting expectantly at home when I got a PM telling me he was at 'my bar'. The pub I frequented was only two blocks from the house, so I walked up there immediately.
He was outside smoking a cigarette when I arrived. We went into the pub and I bought him a beer. He had been sitting at one end of the bar. At the other end was an older woman reading a book. I didn't recognise her which was unusual. The pub was very much a 'Cheers' type of place where everyone knew everyone else and 'everybody knows your name'.
We chatted for a while until the older woman got up and came to where we were sitting. She asked him if he was almost ready to go. I still didn't recognise her, but I recognised her voice!
All her life and through the entirety of the time we were together she had been heavy. This woman was very definitely 'unheavy'. When she went back to her seat, without saying a word to me, I asked him if his mother had been ill. He replied that no, she had just decided to lose weight.
Fast forward a few years. In November 2016, my sister's husband died (R+I+P Charles). My wife had always stayed close to my family, in fact, she had visited Charles in hospital after he had the brain aneurysm that killed him. When funeral plans were announced, out of the clear blue, she PMed me on Facebook asking if I'd like a ride to the funeral. Since I no longer drove, I said yes.
It was a bit of a tense trip. We chatted about inconsequentials, the weather, memories of my brother-in-law, that sort of thing. We stayed in the same motel, she and the two of our children who had made the trip in one room and I in another. After the funeral, she drove me back to Council Bluffs.
However, we started chatting on Facebook every evening. In February 2017, I came to Wilber to visit her. We continued chatting every evening for the next few months. She knew I went to the pub on Saturday nights to listen to karaoke, so on the evening of Saturday, 27 May, we cut our chat short. It was Memorial Day weekend and when I got to the pub it was dead, so I fired up my Kindle and messaged her again. As we were chatting, she said, 'Well, I guess I'm officially asking you to move in'.
Just over a month later on 1 July, I moved to Wilber.
Has it been perfect? No. We still get on each other's nerves, but now, unlike years ago, we talk about it. When people ask how it's working out, I say it's been over five years and she hasn't killed me or thrown me out yet!
Does prayer work? As far as I'm concerned, the answer is a resounding YES! And my eternal gratitude to Our Lord, Our Lady, St Joseph, St Jude and St Rita, my Guardian Angel, and my Patrons.