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What goes around... Custody

I know a guy. He got divorced a long, long time ago. As soon as he was divorced, his ex-wife took off with his two children, then about six and four, to parts unknown. She had no cause to take off, didn't even claim any, but she just didn't want to share her kids with an ex.  She wanted more than custody.  She wanted everything.

He was devastated. He was distraught. He searched high and low for those kids. He hired skip tracers and private investigators. This was before the days of the internet. He would use the next decade and a half of his vacation days chasing down leads in every God forsaken nook and cranny of the United States, trying to find his kids.

One day, some 15 years after his children went missing, he got lucky. His oldest had gotten a job that finally left a paper trail. When his latest PI called him with the hot tip, he left work, got in his car and drove straight to New Orleans. Outside the front door of the modest apartment which might hold his children, he took a deep breath, summoned his courage, and knocked.

His youngest, his son, answered. Now a full grown young man of 19, the boy stood in the doorway, sizing up the stranger.

"Is your sister home?"

"Yeah," the boy called out to her.

A lithe young woman of 21 approached the door. The father recognized her immediately. She stood there, taking him in. It was more than he could bear. He broke down and called her by name.

"Daddy?" she asked. Later she would say it was something about his voice that called to her from the distant past. She broke down, too.

Their mother was at work. The father quickly offered to buy his children coffee at a local shop. They walked a few blocks to catch up on the many years.

Their mother had told the children that their father was dead. That's why they would never hear from him again. They moved first to Arkansas and lived there for some five years. From there, to New Orleans where they had been ever since. And they had never been back to their former home city, not even their former home state. They never looked back. Their mother said that there was nothing good going to come from it.

That night, when the mother came home from work, the children told her what they had learned. They told their mother that they were going to stay with their father while he was in town, since he had been dead all these years.

Now, more than two decades have passed since that day. The son and daughter, less than pleased with their mother's cold hearted, selfish deception, decided to promptly move back to their father's town where they remain to this day.

As you can well imagine, two decades later, much has happened in this family's life. The father and his wife of 30 years just threw a wedding shower for his granddaughter. Yes, his granddaughter. The family was all there, surrounding the once long-lost daughter and the grand-daughter and her future husband-to-be with love and affection and attention. A good family. A very good family.

Where was the children's mother? The children never forgave her for stealing them from their father. They never forgave her for losing out on all those opportunities and memories. They never forgave her for her ruthlessness in rendering them fatherless. They had little to nothing to do with their mother after the truth was learned. The mother died a few years after it had all come out.  She died all alone. The children were with their father. She may have gotten custody, but she lost everything.

Karma. What goes around, comes around.

Michael Manely

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