I well recall the first time that we took the kids to dinner at a restaurant. My ex-wife and I had been married nearly ten years, and we had four children, another one on the way. We were living in Vancouver and had driven down to Portland to visit some of my relatives. While there, we went out to dinner at an Olive Garden.
It was quite the treat, and the kids were mesmerized. Though I was a practicing lawyer, we simply could not afford luxuries like eating out. My wife and I very rarely went out; we had never really gone on any family vacations; there simply wasn't the money.
|Hannah, Adam and Rachel in the spring of 1996|
Life got a bit easier, financially, once we moved to Utah twenty years ago this past summer. There were more opportunities to go out to eat, to take family trips, to go to movies.
|The Original Six with my dad and step-mother in the fall of 1999|
Then came the adoptions and Levi's surprise arrival - four more children in the space of four years. It was hard on the "Original Six" (we had two more sons in the latter 90's). There were a lot of adjustments made, hardships borne. Then, of course, came the multi-year complete breakdown of our marriage, culminating in my coming out in 2010 and in our subsequent separation and divorce.
|The Original Six in August 2006|
My six older children have been through a lot. I've been through a lot. We've all been through a lot - both before and after the divorce. But we've all grown tremendously in the process, and I'm so very, very grateful for each one of them, for who they are, and for the relationship I now have with each of them.
|L-R: My daughter Rachel, son Nathan and his girlfriend Aubrey, son-in-law Dave and daughter Sarah|
This past Tuesday night, I took five of those "Original Six" (along with a spouse and a girlfriend) out to dinner here in Salt Lake. (My daughter, Hannah, lives in Vancouver, BC and was missed). It was a banner occasion, marking the first time I had gone to dinner with all five of my local children. The fact that it was the day before the 18th birthday of my son, Nathan, made the occasion even more special.
|Me and Nathan|
|Sarah and Dave|
|My daughter Hannah was there in spirit. |
This picture was taken in early November near Vancouver.
|Nathan and Aubrey|
Can you tell I'm a proud dad? And a grateful one?