I’ve said before that when my husband cheated and launched his egress from our marriage I met myself. With stability yanked from me and control a thing of the past (or of the imagination in the past), I discovered my core. And I was delighted with what I found. I’m made of rugged stuff. My values are solid. Earnestly, I did everything I could to save my marriage. I wouldn’t change anything about my behavior during that time. I don’t mind telling you that when it comes to the matters that really matter, I’m thoroughly extraordinary.
And, as it turns out, that quality is inherited.
On June 27th of last year, after The Wasband turned a cross-country video chat into my personal horror movie, I contacted my parents. Through a mess of waterworks, I told them that their son-in-law of ten years was having an affair and was presently packing up half of our house so he could move out. To where, he wasn’t certain. My dad, Jack, said two significant things. He told me to go home. I was away at school in Boston. He told me to bail and get back to Sparks. And then he said that if it was okay with me he was going to invite The Wasband to come stay with them.
I’ll say that again, because it’s so outlandish: my husband cheated on me—he was “in love” with another woman—and my dad invited him to come stay at their house in Utah while The Wasband figured out his next steps, hopefully landing on staying married to their daughter. To me, that spoke of two things. First, it said that my parents didn’t just think of my spouse as their daughter’s husband; they saw him as their son, and they knew that their son needed help. And second, it said that my parents are crazy.
Who just does that? Who feels the heartache of seeing their eldest daughter in the kind of pain they’d never seen her experience before, and invites the source of her misery to move in with them? Only my parents. They’re cyborgs. They plug in at night.
Don’t think this was some messed up we-love-him-so-we’re-gonna-keep-him-even-if-he’s-hurt-you thing. No, they were taking their cues from me. Since I wanted to rescue the marriage, they were going to do whatever it took to help me.
Wasband took them up on the offer. He moved a bed, some furniture, a TV, his computer paraphernalia, and all his clothes to a bedroom in my parent’s house 500 miles thataway until he couldn't take being away from his girlfriend any longer.
During the are-we-aren’t-we? separation period, I talked to my dad a lot. Some weeks it was every day. Jack would tell me I’m gonna be fine. He would tell me this isn’t the end. He’d say that though he knew I didn’t want to hear it and wouldn’t believe it, if the marriage didn’t work out, I’d find someone else who I wouldn’t have to beg to love me.
Sometime in July The Wasband and his woman went AWOL. No one knew where they were. He wouldn’t return my calls or messages. For a week, I spent the nights sleeping fitfully on the daybed in my office, clutching my phone in case it rang. We finally got a beat on them when they showed up in Utah and The Wasband went to my parents‘ house to retrieve all the stuff he’d moved over there. The only person at home was my dad. My mom was in Sparks babysitting her sobbing disaster of an oldest kid.
Dad helped him. Because he is the best man I know, my dad helped my wayward husband move his stuff into a U-Haul. He helped until my ex asked if he could go get his mistress from wherever she was waiting and bring her up to the house. Then Jack appropriately went papa bear on his ass and kicked The Wasband out with only the stuff he’d packed already.
My dad stood up for me. Knowing that I wanted to save my marriage, he showed compassion, talked with The Wasband, and helped him move his things. And then, when shit got all crazy-like, even though he loved my husband as his own kid, my dad took out the trash.
When my divorce papers were being processed, Dad told me that he’d had my soon-to-be-officially-ex photoshopped out of the family photo. And before I started dating Jim, my dad started to throw his considerable creativity behind finding me a suitable mate. (Oh, Dad . . . ) It’s been almost a year since my life fell apart, and since then I’ve seen a side of my parents that I hadn’t experienced before. They take being supportive to an almost eerie level.
Today is Fathers’ Day. And Jack is unquestionably the very best there is.