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I wrote this book so that my son’s could hear my side of the story and so that people can understand how destructive abuse can be.

I

Filled with tragedy and heartbreak for not just Sherri-Lee but for all of the family members damaged through this divorce, everyone here is a victim. Everyone suffers physical abuse, mental abuse or both; and some suffer from drug and alcohol addiction as well. One victim becomes a victim of suicide. It is a mother’s story. And for Sherri Lee James, it is the story of her life.

S

usan M. Rowe was born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada, has been writing since high school, and graduated from Memorial University with a bachelor of commerce. She published her first book of poetry, Listen to My Heart, in 2009. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Alberta.

ISBN 978-1468198553

9 781468 198553

Sherri-Lee James with Susan M. Rowe

Sherri-Lee James was born into a military family. She grew up on small military bases in remote areas of Western Canada and moved about every three years. To find roots and to settle down she married when she was eighteen, established a home, and started a family in Edmonton, Alberta. In an abusive relationship, she finally left but suffered the horrific pain of parent alienation. Through years of therapy and wonderful support from those who loved her Sherri-Lee survived and is now happily remarried.

A mother’s story of parent alienation and abuse

t is a story of abuse. A story of addiction, divorce, and, more so than any of these, a story of alienation. After years of anguish, Sherri-Lee James finally summons the courage to leave her abusive husband. She tries desperately to maintain her connection to her children and demonstrate her love for them, but her ex-husband thinks that the only way to make her come back is if he hurts her in the worst way possible: he destroys the children’s love for her. She is alienated from her sons by a campaign of hatred.

For the Love of My Boys

This is a mother’s story.

Sherri-Lee James with Susan M. Rowe

For the

Love of My Boys A mother’s story of parent alienation and abuse


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


For the

Love of My Boys

For the Love of My Boys

A MOTHER’S STORY OF PARENT ALIENATION AND ABUSE

A mother’s story of parent alienation and abuse Authored by

SheRRI-Lee JAMeS with SuSAN M. RoWe


For the

Love of My Boys

For the Love of My Boys

A MOTHER’S STORY OF PARENT ALIENATION AND ABUSE

A mother’s story of parent alienation and abuse Authored by

SheRRI-Lee JAMeS with SuSAN M. RoWe


Acknowledgments

Copyright © 2012 Sherri-Lee James with Susan M. Rowe All rights reserved. ISBN: 1468198556 ISBN 13: 9781468198553 Library of Congress Control Number: 2012900742 CreateSpace, North Charleston, SC

Blake and Brett, I have written this book for you. I have loved you since the day you were born, and I will always love you. Motherhood is one of the greatest privileges some of us are given. With all gifts we receive, there are great responsibilities. I feel that I had to make the gravest decision a Mom could ever have to make. I felt that I had to put the welfare of both of you boys first, no matter the cost to myself. I recognized that there was only one choice for the safe welfare of our family. I knew the love that your dad and I had for both of you, and I believed that your dad would never harm you. This book is the only way that I know how to tell you my side of the story, to let you know why I couldn’t be in your lives even though I wanted to be more than anything. It is heartbreaking that we never got to experience the life that a mother and her sons should. I’m so sorry things didn’t end up differently. I love you and miss you. I missed you while you were growing up, and I miss you now. I do hope that someday you will understand.


Acknowledgments

Copyright © 2012 Sherri-Lee James with Susan M. Rowe All rights reserved. ISBN: 1468198556 ISBN 13: 9781468198553 Library of Congress Control Number: 2012900742 CreateSpace, North Charleston, SC

Blake and Brett, I have written this book for you. I have loved you since the day you were born, and I will always love you. Motherhood is one of the greatest privileges some of us are given. With all gifts we receive, there are great responsibilities. I feel that I had to make the gravest decision a Mom could ever have to make. I felt that I had to put the welfare of both of you boys first, no matter the cost to myself. I recognized that there was only one choice for the safe welfare of our family. I knew the love that your dad and I had for both of you, and I believed that your dad would never harm you. This book is the only way that I know how to tell you my side of the story, to let you know why I couldn’t be in your lives even though I wanted to be more than anything. It is heartbreaking that we never got to experience the life that a mother and her sons should. I’m so sorry things didn’t end up differently. I love you and miss you. I missed you while you were growing up, and I miss you now. I do hope that someday you will understand.


iv

For the Love of My Boys

Thank you, Susan, for taking on this challenge. I came to you with a compulsion, driven by emotion and commitment. I had a mission to share with my sons.I also had to satisfy my mind and heart. With the style and prose that you incorporated in my story, I could see my feelings and emotions come to life in the pages of this book. You were a sounding board for my story, and you used your talents to mold my information into a narrative that people will want to read. I thank you so much for the times you recognized the need to keep the book balanced while keeping my heartfelt emotions in check. You helped to keep me focused and reminded me of my objective for telling this story. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to tell my story in such a thorough and complete way, and I can’t thank you enough for helping me. You are an amazing writer. Don’t give up on your dream. Thank you Len for introducing me to Susan so that I could tell my story. You listened to me and you made the effort to assist me in my quest to reach a personal goal. Andy, I have accomplished so many goals and have had so many experiences since you came into my life. You are an amazing person. You always encourage me to follow my dreams and to achieve my goals. You are so supportive and understanding, and you have accepted me just the way that I am. Andy, you are really my Knight in Shining Armor. Thank you. I will love you forever. LYF Mom, thank you for always being my hope and strength, during some of the darkest times in my life. Each time that I thought I had hit bottom, you were always there to pull me out of that very deep and dark hole. You were there from the beginning, and you are still there for me today. Thank you for that. Everything you did was right, and you couldn’t have done anything differently. Dad, thank you for keeping your cool during these very stressful times. As my father, you are a great protector, and I appreciate that. During the writing of this book you have been my biggest fan. I really appreciated the feedback and support that you gave me. Thank you. And finally, thank you to all of the wonderful people who were there for Blake and Brett growing up. Some of you knew I couldn’t

For the Love of My Boys

v

be there, and it helped me tremendously to know that they both had people that supported them and were willing to take an active role in their lives. You people know who you are, and I thank you. I will be forever grateful.


iv

For the Love of My Boys

Thank you, Susan, for taking on this challenge. I came to you with a compulsion, driven by emotion and commitment. I had a mission to share with my sons.I also had to satisfy my mind and heart. With the style and prose that you incorporated in my story, I could see my feelings and emotions come to life in the pages of this book. You were a sounding board for my story, and you used your talents to mold my information into a narrative that people will want to read. I thank you so much for the times you recognized the need to keep the book balanced while keeping my heartfelt emotions in check. You helped to keep me focused and reminded me of my objective for telling this story. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to tell my story in such a thorough and complete way, and I can’t thank you enough for helping me. You are an amazing writer. Don’t give up on your dream. Thank you Len for introducing me to Susan so that I could tell my story. You listened to me and you made the effort to assist me in my quest to reach a personal goal. Andy, I have accomplished so many goals and have had so many experiences since you came into my life. You are an amazing person. You always encourage me to follow my dreams and to achieve my goals. You are so supportive and understanding, and you have accepted me just the way that I am. Andy, you are really my Knight in Shining Armor. Thank you. I will love you forever. LYF Mom, thank you for always being my hope and strength, during some of the darkest times in my life. Each time that I thought I had hit bottom, you were always there to pull me out of that very deep and dark hole. You were there from the beginning, and you are still there for me today. Thank you for that. Everything you did was right, and you couldn’t have done anything differently. Dad, thank you for keeping your cool during these very stressful times. As my father, you are a great protector, and I appreciate that. During the writing of this book you have been my biggest fan. I really appreciated the feedback and support that you gave me. Thank you. And finally, thank you to all of the wonderful people who were there for Blake and Brett growing up. Some of you knew I couldn’t

For the Love of My Boys

v

be there, and it helped me tremendously to know that they both had people that supported them and were willing to take an active role in their lives. You people know who you are, and I thank you. I will be forever grateful.


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


A story of parental alienation and my continuing journey to rebuild a relationship with my sons that was almost beyond repair.


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


Table of Contents Preface The Early Years Edmonton Daze Eddie’s Family And Then Came Eddie Love and Marriage Children Changes and Affairs The Other Affair Post-Separation The Long, Hard Decision Parenting from Calgary Life in Calgary without the Boys Another Life Change The Years without Contact Reuniting Finally Help Falling to the Bottom The Eviction Blake’s Hockey Camps Life at the New House July 20, 2009 Difficult Times A New Year Brett’s Move to Calgary Blake And Now…

xix 1 7 15 21 33 41 49 61 69 87 93 105 111 123 129 141 147 155 163 167 173 183 199 209 219 233


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


Disclaimer Some of the names and dates have been altered to protect the people involved.


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live… —Dorothy Thompson


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


Preface As a little girl, I looked forward to bedtime, when my parents would read me an exciting fairy tale. My favorites were when I found characters in the book that I could relate with, whose lives seemed possible to me. Everyone was happy. The characters would be adventurous and experience new places, meet new people. I always loved an adventure. Are fairy tales a way that we can reinvent our innermost wishes and desires? Are fairy tales a way to give us courage when we are frightened or unsure of our feelings? In retrospect, I think that I believed fairy tales were real, that they represented real life. In most of the stories there would be a handsome prince or a beautiful castle, or maybe just a horse to allow the hero to whisk the maiden away to live happily ever after. There always seemed to be a wonderful ending to each adventure. Many times the stories showed how courage and determination, as well as goodness and love would be rewarded if we just believed long and hard enough. I always expected that I would live a life very much like the fairy tales that my parents had read to me. I just had to believe hard enough and love long enough, and then everything would be as I had read it. There were trials and tribulations in the stories, but there was always a reward for courage and determination. There was always someone who cared and someone who knew or hoped there was a way out. You just had to believe that everything would work out.


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S h e rri - L e e J am e s wit h S u san M . R o w e

I dreamed of one day having my own Prince Charming as well as the little white house with the picket fence, with the children playing in the sandbox in the back garden. I always thought that if we loved hard enough and long enough that we would be able to live our own fairy tale. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out this way. It isn’t always what we dreamed. Sometimes the fairy tale is not meant to be. My story may not be a fairy tale, but as you read on and share in my experiences, perhaps you too will realize that with life, there is always hope. As in the fairy tales, I was definitely tested. I needed courage to overcome many obstacles, sometimes alone and sometimes with the aid of an unlikely hero. There were many times I wondered if I would ever really find my true Prince Charming. There were so many villains in the way.

Here is my story… My father, a military man, had just accepted a new post back to Kingston, Ontario. Just like that, my family would be leaving me behind in Edmonton. I made the heart-wrenching decision not to follow them. After all, I was engaged to Eddie. Because of this decision and the ensuing loss of my parental support, I was on my own (to some degree). Due to my parents not being able to fund a college education, I was now considered to be on my own and eligible for student loans. I had been about to give up on my college dreams, but with my parents’ departure, it seemed they could now come true. I could be a college graduate! Eddie was my safety net. At the time, he was probably my knight in shining armor too. He gave me hope for my future. With him, things were possible. He was a little bit older than I was and had a relatively good job in a warehouse. He was debt-free and even had goals in life. Looking back, I sometimes wonder if I only saw the surface. Did I really know Eddie, or was I just looking for someone to take care of me—a replacement for my loving father? Did I really love Eddie? How did I become engaged at such a young age? Eddie once told me that if he proposed and if I said no it would be the end of us. How could I risk losing everything? I barely knew how to take care of myself. I had lived on military bases most of my life and wasn’t sure I could

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depend on myself with just a high school diploma. Looking back now, I guess the only response to Eddie’s proposal could have been yes. But I am getting ahead of myself. First, I need to tell you about my own family history before I tell you about my time with Eddie.


x v iii

S h e rri - L e e J am e s wit h S u san M . R o w e

I dreamed of one day having my own Prince Charming as well as the little white house with the picket fence, with the children playing in the sandbox in the back garden. I always thought that if we loved hard enough and long enough that we would be able to live our own fairy tale. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out this way. It isn’t always what we dreamed. Sometimes the fairy tale is not meant to be. My story may not be a fairy tale, but as you read on and share in my experiences, perhaps you too will realize that with life, there is always hope. As in the fairy tales, I was definitely tested. I needed courage to overcome many obstacles, sometimes alone and sometimes with the aid of an unlikely hero. There were many times I wondered if I would ever really find my true Prince Charming. There were so many villains in the way.

Here is my story… My father, a military man, had just accepted a new post back to Kingston, Ontario. Just like that, my family would be leaving me behind in Edmonton. I made the heart-wrenching decision not to follow them. After all, I was engaged to Eddie. Because of this decision and the ensuing loss of my parental support, I was on my own (to some degree). Due to my parents not being able to fund a college education, I was now considered to be on my own and eligible for student loans. I had been about to give up on my college dreams, but with my parents’ departure, it seemed they could now come true. I could be a college graduate! Eddie was my safety net. At the time, he was probably my knight in shining armor too. He gave me hope for my future. With him, things were possible. He was a little bit older than I was and had a relatively good job in a warehouse. He was debt-free and even had goals in life. Looking back, I sometimes wonder if I only saw the surface. Did I really know Eddie, or was I just looking for someone to take care of me—a replacement for my loving father? Did I really love Eddie? How did I become engaged at such a young age? Eddie once told me that if he proposed and if I said no it would be the end of us. How could I risk losing everything? I barely knew how to take care of myself. I had lived on military bases most of my life and wasn’t sure I could

For the Love of My Boys

xix

depend on myself with just a high school diploma. Looking back now, I guess the only response to Eddie’s proposal could have been yes. But I am getting ahead of myself. First, I need to tell you about my own family history before I tell you about my time with Eddie.


The late author and child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome more than twenty years ago to characterize the breakdown of previously normal, healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberately damages and, in some cases, destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent.1

Parental alienation is a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent.2

1.  www.afamilysheartbreak.com 2.  www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation


The Early Years

I

was raised by two wonderful parents, both of whom were raised in unbelievably strict environments. My father grew up in a rigid Pentecostal home in New Brunswick. For some, growing up Pentecostal was very stifling and restrictive. My father would tell me that women were not allowed to wear makeup or cut their hair, which were things I had taken for granted in my own youth. I couldn’t imagine growing up like that. He told me that television was almost completely prohibited. They went to church several times a week and even more on the weekend. The most extreme form of punishment growing up was being forbidden to attend church for a day. That was his routine. You learned to work within the rules. At eighteen, however, my father chose to leave New Brunswick for reasons almost entirely separate from his upbringing. He wanted to see the world. He was an adventurer at heart, and military life could offer many new experiences for him. There isn’t much opportunity to see the world growing up on the East Coast. Jobs were scarce, so some boys often joined a branch of the military. My dad chose this life too, and joined the Army at eighteen. Army life can be very restrictive, as it runs on following orders and routines. As my father’s childhood was also highly structured, the principles instilled in


2

S h e rri - L e e J am e s wit h S u san M . R o w e

him as a young child helped him climb the ranks until he retired as Master Warrant Officer many years later. My father had many career successes during his tenure in the Army. When he and my mother fell in love, there was a joining of two families. Those times could have been stressful, but they weren’t. Perhaps there was camaraderie between him and my mother’s father. My grandfather was also a military man and spent a large portion of his life following the rules of the Army. They had similar lives within a strict military family. As it was, the relationship between father-in-law and son-in-law was actually better than the relationship between father and daughter. Kingston, Ontario was the home of the Royal Military College, the historical Fort Henry, and its own military base. For many, it was considered to be the military city in Canada. The majority of people in Kingston were connected to some aspect of the military. As my grandfather was also part of that life, my mother had had a very austere childhood. The regimented and authoritative life was forced upon my mother, and she felt unattached and emotionally crippled growing up. It seemed fitting that my mother would meet and marry a military man. She met my father while he was on a posting to Kingston. She was a beautiful and popular woman with an incredible capacity for love. My father, a shy and reserved person by nurture and nature, was drawn to her. They both experienced childhoods that some only read about. They did not have open loving families. This mutual experience not only allowed them to commiserate, but it also helped them to heal the scars of the past. If you hadn’t lived that kind of life, it would be difficult to understand and move past it, let alone to become such loving parents to your own children. They had such love inside them, just waiting to be shared with each other and their children. They had not learned this abundant love, but it had somehow been invested in them. You might say that I didn’t have a normal childhood since my entire childhood was spent on military bases throughout Canada. But it was just as normal for me as not living on a base was normal for you. Sure, it had restrictions and rules, but, then again, didn’t everyone? The only real issue was that every few years we had to move to another base, but the structure was always the same. City life was only something I saw on TV until I was much older.

For the Love of My Boys

3

Life on the base is different than the city in some ways. There is no unemployment and there’s only minimal crime. You live by the rules just like the city laws, but if you break the rules on base, you are not welcome anymore. Because of the bubble effect of base life, you can be completely unaware of the intricacies of life in the city. You don’t know that your neighbor was laid off, or the amount of crime in your area. Base life is secluded. That can be good and bad all at the same time. You are protected from life outside your bubble but as a result you might grow up a little naive. I was born in Barrie, Ontario when my Dad was stationed at Camp Borden, but since I was an army kid, we had moved five times before I even turned three. Sometimes Dad’s posting caused the move, but other times it was because of the house. For example, we lived in a house infested with snakes, or the landlord was selling the house. Finally, when I was three, Dad got posted to another base, but this time it was across the country in Penhold, Alberta. As Dad was an adventurer, he and my mother were very excited about moving to a new part of Canada and starting a new life there. When they heard about the posting, they told us about the majestic Rocky Mountains. Even to a three-year-old it sounded glorious. I couldn’t wait to see them. It isn’t easy raising a family on a corporal’s salary, and as a result my dad often worked a second job. Most of us think our dads can do anything. Well, my dad really could. To supplement his salary, Dad took a second job on a dairy farm. Because he had lived on a farm when he was young, he knew how farms worked. Everything was about timing, especially on a dairy farm. Every morning the cows had to be milked at precise times. If they weren’t milked at the right time, well, let’s just say the cows got ornery. As a result of the early morning milking, Dad thought it would be best if we lived on the farm. So we moved to a dairy farm with eighty cows and twenty-two chickens. What an experience! I couldn’t have asked for a better education. I loved spending time with my Dad, so every morning I would help by gathering eggs or by working as his “assistant” with the cows. He always made me feel special. One time, he was helping to birth some cows. Now, that might sound absolutely disgusting to many of you, but I thought it was exciting that I got to be part of the miracle of life. Not too many people get to experience the joys of life like that. It was hard work, but there were


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him as a young child helped him climb the ranks until he retired as Master Warrant Officer many years later. My father had many career successes during his tenure in the Army. When he and my mother fell in love, there was a joining of two families. Those times could have been stressful, but they weren’t. Perhaps there was camaraderie between him and my mother’s father. My grandfather was also a military man and spent a large portion of his life following the rules of the Army. They had similar lives within a strict military family. As it was, the relationship between father-in-law and son-in-law was actually better than the relationship between father and daughter. Kingston, Ontario was the home of the Royal Military College, the historical Fort Henry, and its own military base. For many, it was considered to be the military city in Canada. The majority of people in Kingston were connected to some aspect of the military. As my grandfather was also part of that life, my mother had had a very austere childhood. The regimented and authoritative life was forced upon my mother, and she felt unattached and emotionally crippled growing up. It seemed fitting that my mother would meet and marry a military man. She met my father while he was on a posting to Kingston. She was a beautiful and popular woman with an incredible capacity for love. My father, a shy and reserved person by nurture and nature, was drawn to her. They both experienced childhoods that some only read about. They did not have open loving families. This mutual experience not only allowed them to commiserate, but it also helped them to heal the scars of the past. If you hadn’t lived that kind of life, it would be difficult to understand and move past it, let alone to become such loving parents to your own children. They had such love inside them, just waiting to be shared with each other and their children. They had not learned this abundant love, but it had somehow been invested in them. You might say that I didn’t have a normal childhood since my entire childhood was spent on military bases throughout Canada. But it was just as normal for me as not living on a base was normal for you. Sure, it had restrictions and rules, but, then again, didn’t everyone? The only real issue was that every few years we had to move to another base, but the structure was always the same. City life was only something I saw on TV until I was much older.

For the Love of My Boys

3

Life on the base is different than the city in some ways. There is no unemployment and there’s only minimal crime. You live by the rules just like the city laws, but if you break the rules on base, you are not welcome anymore. Because of the bubble effect of base life, you can be completely unaware of the intricacies of life in the city. You don’t know that your neighbor was laid off, or the amount of crime in your area. Base life is secluded. That can be good and bad all at the same time. You are protected from life outside your bubble but as a result you might grow up a little naive. I was born in Barrie, Ontario when my Dad was stationed at Camp Borden, but since I was an army kid, we had moved five times before I even turned three. Sometimes Dad’s posting caused the move, but other times it was because of the house. For example, we lived in a house infested with snakes, or the landlord was selling the house. Finally, when I was three, Dad got posted to another base, but this time it was across the country in Penhold, Alberta. As Dad was an adventurer, he and my mother were very excited about moving to a new part of Canada and starting a new life there. When they heard about the posting, they told us about the majestic Rocky Mountains. Even to a three-year-old it sounded glorious. I couldn’t wait to see them. It isn’t easy raising a family on a corporal’s salary, and as a result my dad often worked a second job. Most of us think our dads can do anything. Well, my dad really could. To supplement his salary, Dad took a second job on a dairy farm. Because he had lived on a farm when he was young, he knew how farms worked. Everything was about timing, especially on a dairy farm. Every morning the cows had to be milked at precise times. If they weren’t milked at the right time, well, let’s just say the cows got ornery. As a result of the early morning milking, Dad thought it would be best if we lived on the farm. So we moved to a dairy farm with eighty cows and twenty-two chickens. What an experience! I couldn’t have asked for a better education. I loved spending time with my Dad, so every morning I would help by gathering eggs or by working as his “assistant” with the cows. He always made me feel special. One time, he was helping to birth some cows. Now, that might sound absolutely disgusting to many of you, but I thought it was exciting that I got to be part of the miracle of life. Not too many people get to experience the joys of life like that. It was hard work, but there were

For the Love of My Boys - by Sherri - Lee James with Susan M.rowe  

For the Love of My Boys by Sherri - Lee James details the definition of parental alienation is heartbreakingly simple—one parent deliberatel...

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