The following has been contributed by the paternal grandparent of one of Amber Whited’s (murdered July 16, 2013) children:
It is their merry go round and yet I still find myself on it. There is not one way to avoid it because we are connected, we are family.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a court hearing wherein two sisters battle the custody of two minor children. My grandchildren and because they cannot come to terms and act right my family is injured, daily.
There is no one to blame now that the mother of the two children is murdered. It is she who was irresponsible and did not plan for the future of her children. It is she who chose to be a single parent and not protect her children by providing a last will and testament in which custody of her small children is established in the event of her untimely death.
Smugly and with false humility they each tell their side of things and from my point of view all I can see is one wanting to one up the other both with the hopes that their side is best played out in the eyes of the judge. It is obvious the judge could be doing more important things than mediate another childish dispute between two adults who should know better and don’t.
Both thinking they are the victor when neither has won and the children and their paternal grandparents lose. You may ask yourself, “How do the paternal grandparents lose?” I’ll be happy to explain.
When the mother of these two small ones was murdered she had not legitimized her youngest baby, the father being my son has not adopted the eldest child as the biological father is out of the picture and my son is the only man this little girl has called daddy. Both the mother and my son young enough to think they are invincible and old enough to know life can and will throw a curve ball do not plan for the possibilities thus do not protect the interest of children and all parties involved.
Actively involved for more than three years with the eldest child and even moreso whence the newborn arrives we commit. As family we embrace the one who is not our kin and receive her into the fold of our family going so far as to include her in family events, traveling long distances for various holidays, birthdays and impromptu meals.
Deeply integrated into our lives we build one moment at a time a foundation of love which bonds us. We love these children my husband and I and the rest of our family and yet now nearly a year since their mother’s murder we have nothing but photo albums of memories, sleepover and play clothes now outgrown and donated to charity and toothbrushes tossed in the trash.
And neither woman will open up and let us in. Both hoarding their time and both offering empty and broken promises.
Suffering in silence we grieve the loss of a woman we called daughter and the loss of her precious children though very much alive but out of reach because of a power game others play. An olive branch extended and we are allowed a few peeks into their lives with photos posted online and more recently at the courthouse where the family skimmed through a recent celebration captured on pages neither my son nor I were offered to hold. From a distance my heart burns from the sight of my grand daughters caught up in a family gathering denied me and my family. Only God knows how deep the burn goes and they so caught up in one upping the other have no clue as to the pain their joy causes us.
Salt in the wound I listen to them, a family divided, bad mouth the other and gloat over their minor victories in court and out.
Having had enough I break down and let them have it, both barrels regardless of the timing and the possibilities of being completely cut off I speak my peace. Seriously, who do they think they are? The law is the law but then there is the law of love and family the unspoken law where family stick together, forging a bond which cannot be broken and though I understand this law and abide by this law they do not. After having plead my case, pouring out my heart with tears freely falling going so far as to ask to be invited to a family gathering or dinner the immediate response of one of the sisters is, “We can have an accidental meeting somewhere public…”
I am not the enemy, I have not broken any laws nor been under investigation for any crimes by any enforcement agency and yet I am treated as though I am a criminal.
What a smack in the face, no truer insult than to know I am not even worthy enough in her eyes to step in her home nor to be considered family…I get it now, it is because they have no sense of family that they do not see me and mine as such. The sooner their family begins to embrace one another imperfections and all, to live in the truth, the sooner we can all move forward. I will not lie, I will not agree to deception even if it means I can have a few stolen moments with my grand children. I want it all, the whole pie. Without skulking about in the shadows to enjoy that time with my precious grand daughters. How can she be so willing to set these children and us up for disappointment knowing neither will have the liberty to freely call on the phone or pop in to see the other as we did in the past?
The best interest of the children is certainly not being considered…
I will not live under secrecy and deception nor should I be asked to. If the children were not simply pawns in this dysfunctional family’s game of tit for tat if the children’s needs were truly at the center of it all we would be included as actively involved grandparents now as we have been since the beginning.
Friends, if you are a single parent don’t be ignorant and think you are invincible, you will not live forever and have no guarantees over tomorrow. Plan, make plans and put it in writing thus protecting the best interest of your children. You don’t want for your child(ren) to be drug through the courts from one home to another amongst people who do not have one kind word to say about the other. In the end it is always the children who pay the price for adults who never learned to play nice together. It is not in the best interest of the children to lose their mother, grand parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Losing the center of their life is difficult enough without compounding the problem in losing familial support too. Regardless of legitimization these children should continue to live the life we have all actively been involved in providing.
**BaileyBoo, Harmony-Faith you are never far from our thoughts and always in our prayers. No matter what others say and claim to know, we have always been here for you and will continue to cover you in prayer. One day we will be restored and on that day there will be much joy and celebrating. We love you with all our hearts—NanaBell and Pop