Heaven Needs More Heroes: Part 2

Dearest Purity,

Sometimes, I feel I can hear you, even when you are not here.  I decided, last week, to do a two part post about having the hard conversations.  I know what hard conversation you MOST want me to have.  Since I cannot just show up at the house “without being announced,” I’ve drafted yet another letter to the parents.  I hope that it helps you realize how hard I have tried to rectify this situation.  After all…

Dear Parents,

I apologize for the length of this letter.

I am writing this letter to speak to the issue brought to me by Lee on December 25th 2013. I chose not to answer in detail about that issue at that time because I felt that accusations were being hurled at me without folks knowing the facts.  I believed that “cooler heads would prevail.”  But in the four years since this event, I do not feel that this has occurred. In fact, I believe the opposite.  So, now I’m going to say my piece.

I also have not spoken up until now because I was protecting the feelings of Purity and Bea.  I did not want to betray their confidence. {I also wanted them to have the ability to get into a car and drive away if someone decided to give them a hard time about the contents of this letter.  It’s been a long time waiting to know they both have the ability to drive.}  So here goes…

I’ll admit, I did not like Lee very much after getting to know her.  I did not really wish to be friends with her on Facebook.  I felt that she had a habit of creating “mountains out of molehills.” So, after a situation in which I clearly asked for her help in preparing Bea to go on a trip to Catalina and ALL of my wishes/feelings were ignored, I chose to unfriend her on Facebook.  I realize now that this probably started things rolling in a bad direction.  And for that, I am very sorry.

Dot and I were never “friends” on Facebook or any other medium, for that matter.  Dot and I never had much to say to each other, but I never spoke ill of her to the children and I don’t believe she ever spoke ill of me to them.  We acted like adults who have of mutual dislike for each other.  We were honest about it, but it did not affect either of our relationships with the children.

And that’s how I tried to conduct myself with Lee.  When the girls complained that Lee blamed them for things they did not do and that their father refused to stick up for them, I tried to help them cope with the situation the best way I could.  

As a teacher, children often complain to me of the ill treatment their parents give them.  But, I’m also aware (after 18 years of teaching) that the parents also have a point of view that I’m not hearing.  I’m a mandated reporter in the State of California, so I must listen to the children and determine if what they are telling me is reportable. Children also go home and complain about me from time to time.  I very much appreciate those parents who calmly give me a phone call and ask me if I truly did what the child is accusing me of.  

It seems I am accused of trying to break the family apart.  This truly surprises me as I often defended Dad and Lee to the girls. I told the girls they were very lucky to have Lee come into their lives.  Living with three men for so long, they needed a woman’s influence. Ask them if this is not what I said – all the times they both complained about their parents. They complained so much about you both, and I had exhausted every idea I had in helping them cope.

One thing I tried was getting them out of the situation as often as I could. I even took Braiden out for lunch and asked him if I could spend less time with him so I could pick up the girls more often.  I told him it was because they were complaining about Lee so much. Ask him if I did this and what I said.  I did not speak ill of Lee or Dad to him.  I did not know your point of view and I was determined to stay in the lives of the girls as long as I possibly could. Why would I say negative things about the people who had the power to take me out of the girl’s life? That would be stupid…

I did not chose to speak to you both about this as my parents had already tried talking to Dad about a situation with Braiden.  Braiden came back to visit them after this incident and he clearly felt he had to watch every word he said to them.  I did not want to betray the girls’ confidence.  I felt I had little choice but to invite them to come stay with me, whenever they needed to.

This invitation never had the intention to break up the family or speak against Dad and Lee in anyway.  I just wanted to give the girls a way out of the situation so they could have a break and gain a bit of perspective.  As I stated on Christmas Day, I said what I said to them  – because I was trying to help.  I was trying to help the girls know that someone was listening to THEIR feelings and I was trying to help alleviate the stress (for everyone) that living with so many people under one roof can create.

However, this simple invitation was perverted into my trying to break up the family and I was immediately shut out.

I am very aware that the children are bitter towards their mother for walking away from them and “never contacting them.”  I tried to reassure each of the kids in this situation, by my presence and by letters, that I was not going anywhere.

I sent cards and gifts through the mail. But the girls were not allowed to respond.

So, I sent lunches to the girls at school to let them know I was still thinking of them.  I do feel sorry that I asked them to keep this from their parents. I put the girls in a situation where they had to be dishonest and I apologize for that.

I had meals with Braiden to try to keep us close.  Why he was brought into this and asked to tell me to talk to you,” I’ll never know.  This argument had NOTHING to do with him. Honestly, I think it was very cruel to involve him.

During the incident on December, 25th 2013, I tried NOT to discuss this issue because we were standing in front of Purity and Bea.  Children should NOT have to watch adults that they love fight among themselves.  I would have thought this was obvious to a teacher, like Lee.  But then she chose to break into another argument about my taking Purity for a driving lesson.  That showed me she had no intention of having a calm and productive discussion about the matter.  

That conversation of Christmas Day was NOTHING close to an adult conversation, Lee.  It was an angry rant on your part and I was hoping you’d realize that and come to your senses. I chose not to call you out on this fact as I did not wish to embarrass you in front of the gals.    It’s too bad you could not afford me the same consideration.  

After this incident, I confess was not real interested in trying to have a conversation with Lee. I shut her out and for that too – I apologize.  Lee is Dad’s wife and she deserves a measure of respect.  But, I also deserve a measure of respect.  The Grandparents and I have always felt like second class citizens in this family.  Given the reception I received on Christmas Day, I’m not too keen on the idea of coming into your home again.  I have NEVER felt truly welcome in it. I do not, however, believe that was just Lee’s fault.  This feeling of a lack of respect goes back more than twenty years.

In January 2014, I reached out to Dad via text and asked to speak to him.  I was refused, because Lee had to be present.  

In February 2014, Grandpa tried talking to Dad about the situation several times.  I think he was hoping the “men folk” could be more rational.  But Dad’s reply to him was that I “was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

I tried talking to Lee again at the Farmer’s Market on July 2014.  Lee was with her mom and did not wish to get into a discussion at that point.  She asked me to call Dad to set up a time.  I did this immediately.  After waiting almost two weeks for an answer, I got tired of waiting and I showed up at the house.  Lee informed me I “showed up to the house unannounced” and refused to even give me a time when we might speak. Why did you have to close the garage door on me, Lee?? How did that help the situation?

The next day, I received a text from Dad telling me that I could speak to them at the house any afternoon that week provided I told them what day and what time.  I confess, by this point, I was tired of running after people to talk to them. I also felt that it was a “setup” for yet another scene in front of the girls.  There was no way I was going to put them through that again.  You see, I feel I had good reason to keep silent.  Silence does not always equal guilt. 

When grandfather got sick in 2014, I turned my attention to helping my mother care for him.  He died on January 29th 2015.  For a long while, it was just too painful to deal with both his death AND this family drama.  

This year, with Purity’s’s graduation coming on, I chose to reach out and try again.  I sent a letter to the house in late May asking for a meeting and stating that I would apologize for my part of this situation.  I followed the letter up by a phone call to Dad a week later and a phone call to Lee about a month later.  Nothing.  

I’ll be honest with you both – I think your behavior is self righteous and petty. I’m very much afraid that you are modeling this attitude for Chris, Braiden, Purity, Bea and Belle.  You call it “protecting the family.”  I call it righteous indignation and filibustering.

Amy claims that she DID try to contact the kids after the split, but Dad refused to allow her to speak to them.  She feels very bad that she chose to “sneak” around to speak to Braiden on Facebook as she did. Amy wants to see her children. I hope you all realize that it is illegal to keep a child from their biological parent.

I know that I don’t speak just for myself when I say there comes a point when a person just gets tired of being treated badly. I’m not one of your children, yet you both seem to expect me to show up and apologize for something I DID NOT DO.  I will not do that.  I don’t deserve to be treated the way you both treat people. I’m really surprised you think you can treat another human being this way. Seems like any self respecting person would act exactly as I have: to walk away rather than continue to deal with folks who seem determined to vilify them.

Insight and reflection does not seem to be trait either of you share.  

Neither of you seems capable of answering the following question without blaming someone else:

“How did I contribute to the ugliness that has happened in this family? 

I have apologized several times now, in this letter so please don’t bother throwing this back in my lap.

You both seem to be people who chose to look for the worst in others and then – you find it. I’ve known this for a very long time and I’ve hoped that my example could help the kids see there are other choices.

I feel very sorry for both of you.  I pray to God that you will find a way out of your darkness.

I think the grandparents and I tried to be good to you folks over the years. How do I see that?

When Doug Sr. died, the grandparents brought over a huge plate of food for the reception  AND took the kids so the adults could mourn the loss of their patriarch. The grandparents and I have stood up for you when Kris has complained that his family lied to him about his Doug Sr’s death. ( I know your intention was in the right place, but kids do have a way of figuring out the truth.)

When Amy ran away with Braiden all those years ago, who went and brought Braiden back to the family?  Grandmother and I did.  

When Amy chose to stay with me (when I lived with Sean) and I found out she was canoodling with someone else, who did I stand with – You Dad.  She jumped out of the car because I was yelling at her and standing up for you – her husband.

When Amy refused to let Dot see the kids when they were young, what did we tell them?  Go see your Grandmother Dot anyway!

When Dad and Lee wanted to get married and you wanted a place to have the reception, the grandparents worked their asses off to get Grace Haven into shape.  I bought and decorated all the tables and gave Lee a beautiful wedding bouquet to carry. Yet, we were not invited to the wedding luncheon until the very last minute.

When Lee and Dad needed a place to store their stuff after one of their moves, the grand parents allowed them to use the guest house garage – no charge.  

When Lee wanted help with her teaching class, she asked me to take her to my temple.  I agreed to do this and I offered to take her out after to discuss any questions she had.  I also asked to see the written paper several times. Despite my trying to show interest in her, I never was allowed to see that paper.  I wonder what conclusions she came to that she did not want me to read? I guess I’ll never know.  But I do know – I tried to help her.

And I could go on…

But, it seems you have chosen to see “the bad” in us no matter what we do.

Frankly I’m glad not to have to spend time with folks who choose to behave this way.

I do miss the children, though.  I sincerely hope they someday realize there is ANOTHER way to live at the world.  It isn’t easier, but there’s a lot more forgiveness, joy and abundance than you choose to see.  


Prudence Scattergoode

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