Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Strange Day

For people who have been through the pains of divorce, this post might seem a little impossible. As a matter of fact, those who are still married might find this story a little hard to swallow! But it is, in fact, true. I have never hidden the fact that I live a very unconventional life in an extremely conventional town, but this one might be for the books.

My days are always interesting. I work at a job that brings me in contact with all walks of life, and I love working in such a diverse environment. I am always involved in some sort of fascinating event once I get home from work, being that there are so many people with varied interests and basic needs living in my home.

But then there are the “ex”-tended family members. I speak of the “ex”-husband and the “ex”-wife.

Shortly after I came home from work one day last week, my son informed me that his father was picking him up in a few minutes to take him to the car show in NYC. Almost as if on cue, his dad pulled up in his Mercedes. I walked my son outside and gave him a kiss good-bye. His father rolled down the window with a humorous look of confusion on his face.

“Why did you laugh last week when I told Kayla that I was taking opera lessons?” he queried.

HA! I don’t know. It just struck me as funny,” I chuckled.

“Heh-heh…um…why?” he continued, his face now becoming very serious.

“Well, I just had visions of when you used to ‘fake’ singing opera, and I guess I never really thought you’d take it seriously.”

With that, he coerced me into coming over to the car so he could show me what he sounded like.

“Oh, you have a recording of it?” I asked.

“No, I’ll sing it for you right now! Kristine got me this music, and I’m gonna sing ‘Oh, Solo Mio’,” he exclaimed as he held up a CD case with nothing but penne pasta on the cover. Italian Karaoke…what will they think of next?

He placed the CD into the dashboard. Within seconds, he was belting out an impressive operatic vocal as my son sat in the passenger seat and gave me some “egad” looks every so often. My neighbor across the street stared at the car in bewilderment as he rolled his garbage down to the curb. "OHHH, SOLO MIO!!!" I stood on my lawn with a bemused look on my face, not able to determine if he was really good, or he was just acting that way.

When the song was over, I complemented him and told him that he probably should’ve taken opera lessons long ago, as his voice seemed to adapt to it quite nicely. He seemed pleased with my complement, and drove off to the car show with my son. I walked up my lawn toward my front door and started to laugh, just thinking how funny it was that my ex-husband was having a Luciano Pavoratti moment in front of my house…and that I just gave my neighbors one more thing to talk about.

About a half hour later, the other ex stopped by to see her daughter. Exhausted from working as a nanny to two small children all day, she plopped down in a chair in my stepdaughter’s room and tried to start a conversation with her. Eventually, an argument ensued about money and clothes and things that are of major importance to an almost fourteen-year-old that really aren’t all that life-altering to an adult. I admit; I hear them argue almost every day. And I do remember what it was like to have that almost-fourteen-year-old myself…I think whoever teaches the eighth grade is either a pure saint, or they’re completely out of their minds. I always mind my own business, and let them work their problems out on their own. But on this particular day, my stepdaughter hit below the belt regarding money and her father’s chosen profession. Now it became my business, and I marched myself into her room with a look of pure disappointment across my face. I stated my case to her, stuck up for her mom a little bit, told her I loved her and reminded her that she should appreciate all of the wonderful things that she has in her life instead of worrying about everything that she doesn’t have (which wouldn’t affect the quality of her life one way or the other, anyway). I left the room and went to pick up my daughter at work. By the time I came back to the house, the mother was sitting on my couch with her daughter lying in her lap as she stroked her hair. “We’re having a peaceful moment,” she tiredly confessed. I left them alone, and went to the kitchen to speak with my husband who had just come home from work.

“…I think we should ask Tina to come to dinner with us,” I weakly stated.

“Okay. That’s fine,” he replied. I was shocked that he answered so quickly…and so positively.

It was our “Thursday night” dinner night, our Pietro’s pizza-fest, our sacred night of family bonding to which strangers were not easily invited. We are very protective of our quality time together, being that it’s the one night that we are all in the same room at the same time. To let someone else share in our tradition was…well…it was the right thing to do that night. Tina was gracious and thankful that she would be able to spend some time with her children. She expressed her appreciation over and over again, and finally gave me a hug and said, “I’m so happy that we can all get along like this.” My thoughts exactly. But we’re not done yet.

We met up with my stepson at the pizza parlor. He was a little surprised to see his mom there, but sat next to her and gave her a kiss hello. My daughter’s boyfriend was in town from school, so he attended this gathering as well. We were all engrossed in various conversations, when the door opened and my son walked in…followed by none other than the other ex…his father. We invited him to sit down and have some pizza, and although he declined at first, he finally sat and ate along with the rest of us. My daughter commented to her boyfriend and I that people wouldn’t believe that we could all sit together like this and enjoy each other’s company. It was really weird, she said. I told her I thought it was great.

Although this day was interesting, to say the least, I will always remember it as a precursor to the various important family events that we will all be tied to in the future—marriages, first home purchases, grandchildren, just to name a few—and I am ever so grateful that our children’s milestones will be reached with a peaceful family to support them. It may be weird, but it works.



(From left to right: David the ex, Dylan, Kristin, Mike the boyfriend, Kayla, me, my husband Al, Al's son David and Tina the ex)

38 comments:

Loving Annie said...

Good Tuesday evening Lisa !

The scenario you describe is nice indeed -- getting along is almost always preferrable to the bitter fighting that wounds all involved...

I am glad for you and the members of your family that things can be so amicable overall with everyone able to co-exist peacefully.

Lisa said...

Loving Annie,

It's funny, on this night we all got along, no one was stressed and everything seemed right with the world. It reminds me of something that the late Peter Boyle said in the movie, "While You were Sleeping" (and I quote loosely): "...You know, you spend your whole life working hard, trying to make sure that everyone is taken care of and happy...and for one minute, ONE MINUTE...everything's good. In that one minute, you have peace!"

I guess life is really just a series of "minutes", or better yet, "moments". Some moments are better than others. Everything from our childhood memories to our first boyfriend to a great vacation that we took that made us happy...we're really just remembering moments out of those scenarios. So in that moment, it was good! In that moment, we had peace. And when we have moments like that, it always makes me happy, because I'm guaranteed that we are indeed capable of having them no matter what life brings our way!

Take good care,
Lisa

Loving Annie said...

Good Wednesday morning Lisa. How are you doing today ?

You bring up a very good point...

It is the mpoments that are sweet that carry me through the rest of life's ups and downs...

It is as though those moments of peace or goodness or connectedness are a lifeline of support, invisible but there...

I am glad you had a few of those peaceful moments the other night --

Mark said...

You are very fortunate to have such a wonderful family and ex's who seem so comfortable in your midst. You much express much love in your life.

Big Dave T said...

,Though I always thought of NYC as a rather unconventional city, certainly any family bonding that occurs with "ex"tended family has to qualify as being at least unusual. Even in NYC, I imagine.

Your story about your opera singing ex- reminded me that your shirt-tail relative is still among the entertainers left on American Idol. Maybe your ex- respects your opinion, figuring that talent runs in your bloodline. If you're not a singer yourself, than you must be a good judge, Paula, er, Lisa.

Lisa said...

Loving Annie,

We all deserve those moments...they make life worthwhile. Have a wonderful evening!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Mark,

I have always felt better finding the good in someone than concentrating on their "not-so-good" qualities...as I would hope that people would choose to do with me. Our exes actually have very similar backgrounds as far as their childhoods go (both were abandoned by their mothers at a very young age), and I consider myself fortunate that I didn't have to grow up the way that they did. I know that it must've been really hard for them, but you'll never hear either one of them blaming any of their misfortunes on their childhoods. That's commendable, and I respect them for it.

I do feel very fortunate, because I've seen what other divorced people have had to go through!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Big Dave,

Yes! I've heard that Miss Scarnato is still hanging in there (I've never seen the show, believe it or not)! Actually, my ex and I used to sing together. Karaoke booths were big back then at the amusement parks, and we must've made about twenty-five tapes together (I still have some of them)! But alas, now he's into opera and I only sing when I'm drunk! Which is very rare!

I should mention that my brother, Joe Scarnato, was a singer going under the name "Joey Scott". Back around 1970-ish, he actually had a song out that played on the local radio station! He was a wedding singer for years. Now, his son is a musical genius. And his daughter, who just so happens to resemble Hayley Scarnato (they have the same mole), can not sing a note!! So not all of us Scarnatos can sing. But we try.

Take good care,
Lisa

Summer said...

Lisa, Good to have you back on the blogosphere!! i have missed reading from you!
nice post and really nice that all you of ex's get along this well! tolerance is the key, you all have great things in common...your own kids! Wish you a great day!

Lisa said...

Summer,

Good to be back! I have some posts in the making, but I haven't had time to complete and edit them. I also have two papers due on Saturday for school, so I really need to finish those...and once school ends in May, things will be back to normal! I hope!

Take good care,
Lisa

Matty said...

Lisa,
Wonderful story, but absolutely impossible in my crazy family. Haley got booted last night, but she is very good looking girl. Glad to see you back.
Cheers!

Loving Annie said...

Good Friday morning Lisa ! Hope that you have a very good day, and a great weekened ahead !

Shimmerrings said...

Lisa, this is all fantastic! My ex's wife is so wicked that she recently told him that if he went to the funeral home to pay his respects to my father (who passed on Tuesday) and his extended family, that she would divorce him... but, he went to visitation, as well as the funeral. We were astounded that she would issue forth such an unreasonable and ridiculous control tactic, based on insecurities and jealousies. My father loved everyone unconditionally... and, in his passing, everyone remembered this about him, above all else... to include my ex, who received much unconditional love from my father, during dark moments of our lives, together. I doubt she divorces him, but I am glad he stood his ground, at a moment like this. My father's passing was difficult for us all, to include my two sons, who were grateful to have their own father's presence, to say our goodbyes. You have a uniquely strange family. The fact is, it should not be considered strange, at all, what open-mindedness and loving compassion can accomplish, given half the chance.

Lisa said...

Matty,

Remember, nothing is impossible. ;)

I had terrible troubles with my husband's ex during our courtship (they were separated for three years before I met him). Those are always the things that I DON'T talk about, because basically, I've cried over them, dealt with them, and there's no need to rehash the things I've healed from. And if you've read "The Eleven Year Glitch" series, you know that I've had my share of troubles with my own ex, as well.

Basically, it takes a willingness to be compassionate towards those people whom we don't think deserve it! I always try to analyze why people do what they do. And that helps me to accept that they may always do crappy things in life...but I know that I don't have to be on the receiving end if I don't let myself! Some people are so insecure and full of self-hatred that they can't help themselves. But I realized that that's THEIR prison, not mine!

Anyway, sorry that Miss Scarnato had to go! I don't watch, but our name almost became famous!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Loving Annie,

You are always like a little ray of sunshine in my day! How nice of you that you stop by to wish people well.

I actually had a really exhausting week at work, but I'm now sitting down with a nice Chianti and cheese and crackers! My messy house will have to wait until tomorrow!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Shimmerings,

I always forget that you and I have very similar backgrounds (I'm putting you on my blogroll and my favorites so I don't forget to visit you)! What your ex's wife did was disgusting...and only shows her immaturity and insecurity. I'm glad that your ex showed class and did what was absolutely right (When my dad died last year, my ex's whole family came...even some people who I haven't seen in ten years). What a fool that woman looks like!

I'm going to stop by over by your place and see what's going on!

Take good care,
Lisa

Kacey said...

Amazing! It had to happen --- the divorce rate is so high in the USA that it is imperative for the families to get along and allow the children to feel good about both sides of their gene pool. (Even the ones in the shallow end) I really think it is a little late for your ex to be taking opera lessons (unless it is for his own enjoyment), but it does sound a bit weird for him to be serenading the neighborhood from from his Mercedes. Bless your heart for being a big enough woman to have the whole famdamily out together.

Oh, and about Haley --- I wondered if she were any relation to you. We didn't think she had the best voice, but did want her to win, because she has "Idol" quality. The ones with the really great voices are a little squiggy looking. I really believe she has movies written on her forehead. She is a cutie!

Carine said...

very good Lisa. Not that unusual. While running my preschool, I had many things happen! two exes and their new spouses and extra kids went on a 10 vacation together. Another went on a vacation w/ her ex and their kids-leaving both of their new boyfriends at home.
I say it's a much better environment for the kids, if everyone behaves well.

LZ Blogger said...

I can't even imagine the PARTY of ex's... the story reminded that last week when I was in upstate NY for the week. The guy in the next room to me sang opera every morning and ever evening. Not I bad voice, but I was just picturing this big tub of lard singing his heart out in the shower (as if I was actually enjoying it). Forturnatly we never actually saw each other eith going into or out of our rooms! I thought about trying to find some Def Leppard and blow the walls out for HIS pleasure!

simply me said...

Lisa - I always say that you are the best person I know. You are kind beyond most people's expectation and I am sure that the kids appreciate your genuine heart and openness in dealing with the ex's. You are a better person that I. Even though if it was Allen's ex's I could do better than with my own ex.LOL

Desiree said...

Wow that really is wonderful! And what a beautiful example to teach your children! Good for you all!!!

Lisa said...

Kacey,

It's not all sunshine and roses all of the time, but then again, what is? Most of the time, though, we are all able to be around each other with absolutely no problem, thank God!!

I never actually watched Hayley...actually, I don't know that I've ever seen an episode of American Idol, lol!! But I do catch up on things by reading People once in a while! I wish her well, no matter where life takes her. And she may not realize it, but she did have a distant relative who was fairly successful in his day!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Carine,

I'm imagining that the two exes that both left their "boyfriends" home were safe to be with each other, no worries over there!! If the man were heterosexual, I don't know if that "family togetherness vacation" would go over very well, however!

Unfortunately, I know more bitter divorcees than compliant ones. It might have to do with where we live, where money is always a very huge issue and causes more resentment than anything. But there are a lot of us who do really try to keep the peace, and as long as one parent is setting a good example, the kids will learn tolerance!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

LZ,

I think I would've been laughing my arse off every morning and every evening...if you take a step back and view the situation as if it's a sitcom, it really is funny!! Most people would've probably said something to the guy...at least you saw the humor in it!!

Next time, though, you'd be wise to bring an arsenal of Def Leppard cd's...I think AC/DC would work well, also!!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Maria,

Why don't I find that hard to believe? Ha! Your ex is one of the hardest people to get along with, period!

You, my dear, do not give yourself enough credit. You have risen above so many hardships in your life, and have turned many lemons into lemonade. I look up to you every day of my life, and I am always thankful to have you as my friend.

Love you,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Desiree,

I think all of us "exes" over here have tried to make things peaceful...maybe not always, or always at the same time...but I do know that we are all more comfortable when we get along. That bitter feeling is very contagious, and we don't want to raise the kids that way! So it is possible to get along if everyone is at least in the same chapter, if not on the same page!

Take good care,
Lisa

Matty said...

Lisa,
I can be very compassionate. Hell, when my ex lay on his death bed, in a coma, I was willing to pull the plug., why prolong his suffering and mine? You gotta do what you gotta do!lol.

Lisa said...

Matty,

You are too much, girlfriend!!

Have a great Monday and a great week!

Take good care,
Lisa

Enhance Life said...

Hi Lisa,
Very nice to see you post again. I came here sometime ago and found that you haven't posted in a while. Hope all is well.

It was refreshing reading your post. I guess amids all the "past" its nice to see everyone come together at least for a while...if not more.

Sham

Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

This is an amazing story. I think you should publish it somewhere to inspire other families, or at least to prove that this can be reality. Meanwhile, keep on spreading the love! I sure am glad to know you.

Hugs,
Betty

Desiree said...

Yes and that's why it is so amazing is that you all are on the same chapter. That's no easy accomplishment!

Lisa said...

Sham,

So good to hear from you! I hope all is well on your end!

I popped over to your blog and left a comment! You're very brave to post an article asking for other's opinions...don't know that I'd be able to do that myself!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Betty,

What a lovely thing to say!! I'm sure glad that I know you, too!!

As I said previously, it's not a bed of roses all of the time. It's just that we don't spend our time being bitter about things we can't change, anyway. That's just a waste of energy!

As for publishing this, I posted it on my "fab40" blog and got a similar comment. If I had any clue as to what the first step would be to do that, I certainly would!! If you have any advice, I'd be happy to listen!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Desiree,

No, it hasn't always been easy. But it was worth it...patience is key. So is tolerance and empathy. Without those, we wouldn't be able to all sit down together like that. It's really a blessing that we all have come so far! Not only for ourselves, but for our kids, as well.

Take good care,
Lisa

Betty said...

I wish I knew how writers get things published. Can you just send a copy of this to a magazine? The first one that comes to mind is Oprah magazine. She's all about spreading the love, and as I was browsing through an Oprah magazine yesterday I thought of how nicely this article of yours would fit in. Even your photos would be perfect!

Hugs,
Betty

Lisa said...

Betty,

You're about the third or fourth person who has mentioned publishing this particular article (I personally felt that it was not one of my best--I was rushing it just to make a post)! I would want to edit the whole thing before submitting. I wonder myself how one gets articles published! I guess I could always go to their website or even call them!

Thanks for the boost of support!!

Take good care,
Lisa

Helen Burton said...

I loved reading your blog. I am aslo divorced and have the same relationship with my ex and my husband's ex. It makes it so much easier when we are all together.

Lisa said...

Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

Yes, it certainly does make it easier, especially for the kids! We have good days and bad days. My ex husband made me cry last week, but I sat in church with him and my two children on Sunday very peacefully (I had never been to their church before, so it was a nice experience and we got along fine). It's all a matter of not harboring resentment and anger...just letting it go. That's not always easy to apply, but the outcome is always worth it!


Take good care,
Lisa