Why couldn't he just live with our court order and make the most of it?
Because my mother had sworn to cut him out of my life.
That I could believe. Except for the details I basically knew that.
She swore it in a slow cold voice six months before she went to court in a panic. My mother doesn't panic. Not where you can see. You can't show weakness. Only for a purpose.
Finally some things were starting to make sense. Like that dawn the day of the wedding, my first wedding.
My mother and her lawyer wrote the court order themselves, with nothing from my father or the judge. Experts told my father the court order was "extraordinarily restrictive." Yeah, it was written to choke off anything between my father and me. I see it now, the tricky catch-22 in it, where maybe nobody else would see. If he couldn't get that changed he would lose me and I would lose him. You know how that came out.
How could that happen? My mother was in multi-level marketing, and her upline was another judge in town, Paul Bender, and his much-younger wife Teddi. Paul helped my mother plan everything, probably from the time we got invitations to my cousin's wedding. I always wondered why my mother wouldn't come with us. It was my first wedding and I was in it. I was the first person to go up the aisle, or would have been. As soon as my father and I left for the wedding Teddi drove my mother to the court. To just the right window of just the right court and just the right judge, where Teddi helped my mother say all the right things.
Teddi helped my mother write her petition and filed a statement of her own attached to my mother's petition. Both of them mentioned Judge Paul Bender often, using his title and his advice and opinions. My judge was a new judge, and Paul and his father had been judges in town for decades. Two times some carefully-picked lawyer for my father quit at the last minute after finding Judge Bender in our file. My father looked bad to my judge, like even his lawyer hated him. No, what lawyer wants to accuse two judges, one who shouldn't have interfered and one who let him? My judge couldn't see that?
That answered a lot of questions for me, but now I had a bigger question. Why didn't I fight, or yell until I got answers? What kind of person did I turn into? The kind that thinks oh well, a father is nothing much? What kind of life do you get from that? You're worse than a ghost. You're a grumbling ghost, grinding your teeth. I didn't just lose him, I lost myself.