Missing Futureman

Dateline: 21 December 2014

Futureman, in the Fall of 2014, shortly before his departure.

One month ago today my daughter-in-law packed up her car and took Futureman (my nearly-three-year-old grandson) with her to the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio. They are now living with her family. The marriage is, I am led to believe, over.

Since starting this blog back in the spring of 2005, I have chronicled many of the events in my life and family. I do not, of course, tell all (that’s more of a Facebook thing, isn't it?), and I would not tell this except for the fact that it is significant to me, and it is the sort of reality that plenty of other parents and grandparents go through.

Future man helping me to count out chicken plucker fingers (which I sell). I put him to work at a young age. 

For the past 17 months, since my son was discharged from the Army, Marlene and I have seen Futureman nearly every day.  And we have cared for him to some degree nearly every day during that time. He was a sacred responsibility. He was near and dear to us. He was sunshine in our days. He was special. And now, just like that, he’s gone.

Marlene, Me and Futureman shortly after he got here from Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

It is a sad development, to say the least. I am sad for myself, yes, but I am more sad for the little boy who must now grow up in a broken family. He is a victim of the selfishness, immaturity, and foolishness of his parents.

While there is nothing at all unusual about divorce and broken families in this day and age, the commonness of divorce does not make it any easier for the children who are its victims.

Those who have been fortunate enough not to grow up in a broken family can not fully comprehend the psychological damage divorce inflicts on a child. It wounds the psyche, and though the wounds may heal in time, scars remain. 

Futureman helping Marlene make bread.

My parents divorced when I was young, much like Futureman. It was not a good experience for me. In retrospect, there was nothing good about it. Nothing.

My situation could have been much worse, and I’m thankful that it wasn't much worse. I’m also thankful for my Grandmother Kimball. She helped (in ways she probably never fully realized, and I did not see at the time) to give me a connection to my family— a family that would have been otherwise lost to me. In so doing, she helped to ground me and shape my identity. It made a difference. It made all the difference.

Me and Futureman Taking A Walk on the land.

My wife, Marlene, is one of the fortunate ones. She never experienced divorce in her family. She has five siblings, none of which have had divorces. Divorce is not in her generation, or the generations before her. 

Now, as did my grandmother, as have done so many other grandparents, Marlene and I will endeavor to stand in the gap. We will be an example of stability in an unstable world. Our home will be a place of peace, and patience, and joyful acceptance as long as we are here to keep a home. As the opportunity presents itself, we will give of our time and attention, when others do not have the time, or the conviction. And we will pray, without ceasing, more earnestly than ever before, for God’s grace and mercy to flow into this precious child’s life.

Me and Futureman taking a selfie


I am nearly 57 years old, but the little boy is still inside me. 

He was visiting his grandmother for the summer some 46 years ago. One day, sitting in her copper-colored Cadillac (with the big fins on the back), while she drove them to her camp on Cross Lake, the little boy was brooding. After some time, he asked the question which greatly nagged him (and which he never asked his mother)...

“Why did my parents get divorced?”

All these years later, the little boy remembers exactly what his grandmother said to him....

“I don’t know. I never asked. But there’s nothing that can be done about it now, and it doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself.”

She said more, but I don’t remember it. I was struck by those words: “It doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself.”

My grandmother, like many rural-raised folk, had a matter-of-fact outlook on life; she was more stoic than emotional. I think that she probably experienced her own share of personal disappointment and unfairness over the years, and her response to me was an expression of her personal credo: “It doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself.”

So, I didn’t get any pity. My grandmother loved me, and she surely felt pity for me, but she didn’t give me pity. She gave me the unvarnished reality of the situation.

I grew up to be more stoic than emotional, at least outwardly. In time, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I understand the Providential sovereignty of God, and I accept it. 

But I do feel powerful sorry for my grandson.

Futureman in the spring of 2014, helping in the garden (he helped me a lot in the garden).