The Graduation Present
The Graduation Present
My daughter was 9 yrs old when my wife and I first separated. I tried to get custody; was
granted joint custody, but the children would physically remain living with their mother.
My career took me to New Jersey. My ex took the children back home with her to Ohio.
Over the next few years my daughter started getting into more and more trouble. Her
school grades were very poor; she was not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities
until they improved; her attendance record was poor; she was spending school nights over at
friends’ houses and skipping school the next day; and, who knows exactly what else?
The reports I received from the teachers, the school councilor, from her mother and from
her siblings had me very concerned. I shared my concerns with my daughter through a
series of long, verbose letters pleading with her to get control of her life before it was too
late. She was smart, talented and a beautiful person but was not applying herself and falling
into bad habits that could ruin a young girls’ life.
After three years I once again sued for custody. This time, it was much more obvious that
the children belonged with their father; I was awarded full custody of all three children.
In high school, my daughter started to excel. Her artistic talents were shining through and
she graduated in the top ten of her Senior class. This father was very proud to send her off
to college knowing she was a bright, mature, well-adjusted young woman.
Four years later, at her college graduation party, after she had opened all her presents, my
daughter announced she had a present for me. She pulled out a stack of well worn papers
and told me that they were the letters I had sent her so many years ago.
She told me she had been saving these letters and constantly rereading them throughout the
years determined to return them to me showing me she could right herself and not go down
the paths I feared. She admitted that she was headed there and probably would have ended
up in the trouble I foresaw had I not fought once more to gain custody.
She thanked me for caring enough to write those letters. She thanked me for caring enough
to not give up on her. She thanked me for continuing my efforts to get custody of her and
her two brothers.
I cannot thank her enough for such a wonderful graduation present.