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The Graduation Present

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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.

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  1. Date: 6/24/2010 5:49:00 AM
    Congratulations Joe on your win in Deborah Guzzi's contest "Making Lemonade". Love, Carol

  1. Date: 6/18/2010 11:16:00 AM
    wow, a great testament to the fact that sometimes the courts mess up in the awarding of children to the wrong parent. Congratulations on your win with this inspiring story. Luv, andrea

  1. Date: 6/16/2010 10:04:00 PM
    Congrats Joe on your winning poem in Debbie's contest with this amazing entry.. enjoy my friend.. u are really on a roll...with luv.."Sweetheart"

  1. Date: 6/16/2010 12:13:00 PM
    Dear Joe, excellent write to the task. Perhaps, you might reformate into paragraphs since it is narrative form it just presents better? And it is a short story aye? Light & Love

  1. Date: 5/26/2010 3:18:00 AM
    It sounds like you both love each other and your family very much. I am in awe that someone would keep letters like that to reread until the ship is righted...but I am glad for you. Congratulations on both of your achievements! Regards, Dan C

  1. Date: 5/25/2010 9:12:00 PM
    This poem gave me goosebumps. I cannot even express what a beautiful thing it is. A father's love is so well expressed, never giving up hope for those children, and your daughters finding her path.. truly wonderful..