The Custody Dance.“I wasn’t scared or nothing”My older brother KP never went to college. When he was 12 he started an apprenticeship with a man who restored antique furniture and when he graduated he went to work with the man as a partner. He married D when he was 21, and she was 19. Maybe we should have seen it coming from the day of the wedding. I was in the wedding party. I had my photo taken all of – um.. 6 times by the photographer her parents had hired. 700 photos later I am looking at the proofs. Very few of our family. Maybe 20 all together, and its only because her family was in them too. My brother learns later via calls from guest at the wedding that the photographer had said that my brother and his wife were going to pay for all of the portrait packages that they wanted and the were wondering when they were being delivered. Of the parents of the groom there are 4 photo, and one of them , the family shot was with all of us against a cement wall that was painted blue. There were 600 people at the wedding. Of our family, it was immediate family only, my parents, my sibs and their spouses, but none of the children , and my aunt on my mothers side, and my two uncles on my dads side. D’s parents put up a fuss about them, said that they weren’t directly related to them, that there wasn’t room in the hall for them etc. and my brother who had a chance to look at the hall said, it holds 700 people! They had invited the town. They were related to everyone in the town in one way or another, and when my other sis in laws saw little kids running about they looked at each other, and then looked at my mum who was trying very hard to be nice about the stress the wedding had caused her. My sis in laws discover when they said “related to” it was in the sense that so and so was the god mother of this one etc. I remember riding home from the wedding in the back seat of the car and my parents arguing. The car swayed from side to side and while I couldn’t tell my parents to stop the argument I could pipe up and say “DAD I AM GETTING CAR SICK!!!” I have never gotten car sick before (Well, once in school I did get sick and they called my mum and she had a bucket and I was making funny noises and she said “You don’t have to pretend, I know you had a test today…” and I said PULL OVER” and I puked my guts out but that was the flu) My brother KP continued to work at the shop – going from apprentice to Master Craftsman, and when his boss years later retired he gave my brother the option of buying him out. There were a series of events that should have been a warning to my brother, to us, that something was amiss. They had a sweet apartment that was huge, and affordable, but, D didn’t feel comfortable with the neighbor who would always be sitting outside, D said she was watching her. So they moved. Except, they couldn’t find a place for the price that they had before and were crammed into a tiny apartment with no closet space. They were able to find a cute house for the same cost of the mortgage, and after putting in a water treatment unit so her cloths wouldn’t be rust stained, she found a snake in the basement. (actually a nest of them) and my brother had to kill the one in the yard Well, D fainted and the house went on the market the next day.The next house was a cute brick that needed some work, and they didn’t check to see if the drains would back up… but they didn’t mind waiting for the tub to go down and the one faucet leaked, but it was still workable.They had been trying to have a baby for the last 14 yrs and it was decided that the only way to do it was invitro fertilization which is thousands of dollars a shot. At the same time my brothers boss retired and my brother who had only done that type of work all his life, opted to buy the business, but the problem was that the building was connected to another building and he couldn’t afford both at the time, so it was sold to another person with him being able to rent the back space, and when she retired, he was forced to buy both buildings and take on the debt of repair. He had, however, four tenants in the apartment space above the store, which generated some income. Well, D became pregnant, and lost the baby, and pregnant again, and lost it, and pregnant again, and lost it, and the Dr had told her bed rest- complete bed rest which to D was, Oh I will go to the movie I am so board in the house… and she would lose another one.This happened ten times. She wanted a baby she didn’t want to adopt or foster. Finally the conversation my brother had with her was “We have no more money to get you pregnant. If we lose this one, it isn’t happening again.” She had tossed the comment about an annulment because of his refusal to have children at him, and he was able to come back with that it would be because she was refusing to go term and refusing to listen to when the Dr said, stay in bed. That shut her up, but again, it was one of the signs that we should have seen this coming.Allot of things happened in the 80s and 90s and business wasn’t good for my brother. While he did work for museums and private individuals, the market for antique furniture fell through. Many shops closed and it was only because my brother restored all sorts of furniture that he managed to keep the business open. D wanted him to close it, to spend the money on other things. Like trips to Disney for her, and her family, which when there was money before the attempts to have children- When my niece was born there were more signs. No one except D’s sister was allowed to hold the baby. I remember being at HRs first birthday party when D’s sister was holding HR on her lap and HR was reaching for the decorations and across the flame of the candle. I had to shout at her before she looked at me as if I was mad – that SHE knew what she was doing with the child- By then there was a wail from my niece. I went over to them and lifted tiny arm from the flame where they could see the soot, and the burn. And D’s sister glared at me that I distracted her.Maybe we should have seen the warning signs how D’s sister treated her own husband – that it would reflect on how my brother would be treated once the baby was born. It wasn’t because they worked so hard to have HR. Perhaps, it was a matter that my brother and D’s brother in law were not from the town, and that they were only needed to make the babies. My brother worked very hard to make HRs bedroom perfect. But it was a hot summer, and their room had the only air conditioner, and so the crib was moved into their bedroom. Later, a youth bed was put in, and D felt it was – in appropriate for their daughter to see the two of them sleeping together. He was put into the third bedroom in the front on the water bed that the heater broke. (if you have ever slept on a cold water bed you know how uncomfortable that can be) We should have seen other signs as well. D had problems keeping a job. There were always reasons, and then she couldn’t get another job after that and it was, as she said office politics that kept messing up her job chances. She would rather stay at home and play with her child, but when it came time for kindergarten, D was sure HR would be a wreck, that she had never been away from her mummy. HR took one look in the room and said “See ya later mum” All did not go well though at that kindergarten. Midway through the term HR came home and was in tears. They had presentations for the students who had done things. Like show up every day, and do their homework properly, and learned their letters and words and numbers properly. HR had done none of that, She couldn’t sit still, she was mouthy and she rebelled against any form of correcting. D’s answer to that was to pull her out of that school and place her in a private school that didn’t have that “problem”It was becoming clear that D couldn’t find things that were * good enough * for her, and her daughter. She complained that my brother was never home, didn’t get a day off, and that he wasn’t bringing in enough money. Her idea of saving the marriage was to throw money away on an expensive weekend at a hotel down the street from where they lived. The marriage was long over before that. When my brother DA was getting married (another adventure in itself) my brother KP and D were separated. She had come to me at the reception and said that the separation was to get time away to “Save” the marriage, and she recounted that my niece had said while they were in the grocery line to the clerk, and to her mom, “Can I tell her mommy?-“ then to the clerk “My daddy is a bad man” and how it broke her heart that her daughter would think that way..What was telling though, was when D decided it was time to go, and HR was hanging on my brothers leg sobbing “I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE YOU DADDY- DON’T MAKE ME GO!”It would be a year and a half before I would see my niece again. During the time, she would tell him on holidays, “ We are going to my parents, and when we come back you can see her.” Except it became, she is too tired and is taking a nap, and then, it is too late for her to go out tonight.” When he did manage to see his daughter it was under controlled conditions, at her birthday party, or when she had a school Christmas play. The separation was a year, then the divorce. Again the battle to see his daughter until they went through counseling that was ordered by the court- D didn’t finish the program. She knew if she did then my brother would be able to have his daughter for a few hours on a particular day. The counselor had said to her “Now D, you are not going to get everything that you want,,,” D blew up at her, and said she was favoring KP, and that he was a bad man. The counselor wasn’t able to take sides officially, but when word got around about what D had pulled, she told my brother that they were pulling for him. KP did finish the course, and it went back to court about visitation. D insisted that it be supervised by a family member – hers- KP refused, and said he wanted a member of the court to be the supervision. Well the first visit went horribly for my brother. By the time HR arrived, she was in tears sobbing “NO YOU CAN’T MAKE ME GO IN THERE” the visit lasted all of 3 minutes while D told the court observer “She is afraid of her father and does not want to be here, so, I guess that answers that,…” before D turned to walk out with her daughter. The court observer caught up with her and said “The court has ordered the visitation to be supervised. You can wait in there, and you WILL bring her back next week at the same time” well, the brief hour that my brother had with his daughter was spent trying to make her stop crying hysterically. The court observer waited until D and HR had left before asking my brother if next week before she sees him, if she could spend time with HR, which my brother agreed to. The court observer was waiting in the parking lot watching the following week as D and HR pulled up and met them before the car door was open. She explained that she was going to observe HR first, and would let D know when the visit was over. HR went with her and they chatted a moment, and when she opened the door to where my brother was waiting HR flew into his arms saying “DADDY I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!!!”It took six months of supervised visits before the next hearing, each time that they came the court observer met them. It because clear that the court was going to allow KP visiting with out observation, D began to make up charges against KP. One was that he was sending letters that she was uncomfortable with to HR. She had underlined the parts she felt threatened them, and my brother had the originals (he made photo copies of them) Another was that he drank, and that she didn’t want him to have alcohol with in 24 hrs of having his daughter. She went to where he was staying at 2 am and tried to get him up. She opened a beer can, poured some on the bedding and called the paramedics saying he was suicidal and she couldn’t wake him. (No, he had only worked a 20 hr shift and was exhausted!) but it was on record by the paramedics that there was a half empty beer can and a near empty bottle of prescription pain medication .(new prescription but she had removed most of the pills!) they drew blood and discovered that he had one pill before he went to bed, no trace of alcohol in his body and that he was asleep. The judge threw out all of those charges. D’s next call was to the police. He threatened her with calls. .Three of them. She demanded a PFA and was given one. My brother had to go to court and tell the nature of the calls. There were papers to be signed for the closure of the property they once owned. She was refusing to sign them because it meant she would have to take on her half of the debt from the marriage. If he didn’t get the papers signed it would mean foreclosure on the business She demanded the courts honor the PFA, and that he would have no contact with her, or his daughter for a year. It was during this time that our father fell ill with his second round of lung cancer. KP had to petition the courts so that my dad could see his grand daughter before he died. The courts allowed the visit, and our father died two weeks later.The final hearing for the PFA was moved up and my brother found out the day before the hearing (he was to be given two weeks notice in any changes) He called his lawyer, and she was ill, and he called his neighbor who is a criminal/ divorce lawyer and he couldn’t take the case because he had another at the same time, but at 9 pm he calls my brother back and said the person in his case had the flu and he was open. They stayed up until 4 that morning going over the court documents, and the reaction of the new lawyer was, “It’s been three years of divorce and you don’t have over night visitation??” Because PFA’s are take so seriously in the court, and the public defender who was appointed to my brothers case said, just plead guilty and it goes away the case couldn’t be dropped, and my brother faced prison time as well as fines that he couldn’t afford to pay. His new lawyer was able to get the charges reduced, but, it was still a charge on his record of abuse. D had said to my brother that HR was allergic to all fuzzy animals, and that she wasn’t allowed to ride in my brothers car or visit him because he had a dog. It didn’t stop her from purchasing a dog for HR, of course. Shortly after, KP picks HR up from the bus stop and she says that she has to take her dog for a walk, and my brother says ok, and they go to the neighbor who is watching the dog, and she says that she put it in the apartment because she knew HR would be home soon, and my brother inquired if she could open the door so they could get the dog, and she refused, and then HR asked if she could get the dog for them and she said she didn’t have time and closed the door in their faces.Neighbor informs D who calls the police who arrive to arrest my brother for attempted breaking and entering of her apartment. He hasn’t a clue as to what she is talking about and he is taken down to the station and fingerprinted and booked. His lawyer arrives and talks to the chief who knows the lawyer and respects him. Seems the arresting officer was a friend of D’s family. His lawyer has a long discussion with the chief and gets permission from my brother to discuss what is really happening. Because of the prior charges they have to follow up with a court case. It is the same judge that he had before that said if she saw him in her court again she would throw him in jail for ten years. My brothers lawyer asked D on the witness stand if my brother had every hit her (no) had he ever yelled at her (no) had he ever threatened her with bodily harm (no) Was there a witness to the calls made prior? (no) was there papers signed in court that specifically said that he could only discuss the welfare of the child (no) Had he been in her apartment before (yes) when? (When she was moving from the one apartment to the second apartment) Was he in the first apartment prior to the moving? (yes,) When? (when she moved the first time and to carry items in for HR.) Was he in the second apartment more than just the moving? (yes) Did he force his way in at any time? (no) Back to the calls which were relevant because they were being used to establish motive Why was he facing foreclosure on the business (Because he was in debt) Did you know about the debt prior to the divorce? (no) Did he ever tell you he was going to borrow money to pay the bills? (no)Now, what was interesting was,.. her sister testified that D did know. Her sister had been the book keeper at the time, and he said “don’t tell her about the loan” his lawyer asked “did you tell her?” (yes) when? (That night, right away as soon as I saw her yell at him and so did his family.)Our sis testified (I was at the store with my husband and we were there to arrange a loan for KP, and D confronted him about borrowing the money.) Lawyer “why did he need the money for the bills?” our sister ( He was still deep in debt from paying for the invitro fertilization procedures for her, and her school loan.) So part of the marital debt which she wants to have her name removed from was because of her? (yes)The judge hadn’t heard the testimony before. She had seen a weeping woman in her chambers and now was watching D sit there with cold fury on her face. She lost that case, and the charges were dropped. KPs lawyer has asked if D could go through mental evaluation, as she demanded the same for KP, D has refused to comply with the court order evaluation stating they are all in favor of KP.KP had to sell the buildings last summer. The new owner is a scam artist, and took away the apartment where my brother was living, forcing him to live in a back room of his shop. The new owner wouldn’t fix the heater due to the cost of oil and my brother was faced with freezing to death while he paid for D to live in a plush country club estate with a pool, spa, weight room tennis court- and gated entrance. It has one bedroom and the rent on it could have paid for their home many times over. HR sleeps in her mothers bed. There are a lot of things that D is doing that do not sit well, but my brother is trying to keep things calm.Because he had no heat, (and my other brothers divorce left him homeless too) KP moved in with our mother. She took the house off of the market, and we were all horrified to see how thin he had become. How exhausted he was, and that he had no life beyond work, eat then sleep by 7 pm and up at dawn. If it hadn’t been for his dog, another living creature who needed care, my brother would have died. With my brother living at mums home, there was an extra bedroom that was fixed up for the over nights. D’s lawyer argued that HR wasn’t adjusted enough to spend the night away from her mother, and wanted to put it off until the fall. KPs lawyer argued that it had been 4 yrs since the separation, and it was past time she had an over night. Her lawyer argued that they had concerns about HR’s safety. His lawyer said it was the same home where KP grew up, and that other family members would be there…Her lawyer argued that there was no- paper work saying the other family members who were staying there were * safe * around children. His lawyer called my brother JD to the stand, (the other family member) and asked if there was any reason the court would have not to trust JD, who pulled out notarized copies of the papers that had been filed because he was a scout master, had been for years and had all of his certifications. The next question was what about the other family member there, which would be the grand mother. My brother stated she was an army trained Registered nurse, and had served during ww2. HR arrived sat afternoon, was put into the tub at 7 and dressed for bed by 7:30. She stayed up with everyone until 9 pm, was read a story and fell asleep promptly. The next morning she came down early and said to her grandmother-“I wasn’t scared or nothing” I arrived for a visit some time later and mum recounted those words to me. “What did she mean by that?” she wondered.“If your scared about staying over, or anything, give me a call and I will come pick you up…” Mum gave me a look “Oh- she wouldn’t…” I returned the look. All it would take is one bad experience and D would go back to the court and say, “We tried it and she was terrified and I won’t put her through that again.”I have never seen mum smirk,Until now.HR had a wonderful time. She has had such a great time “IN HER OWN ROOM” that she is refusing to share a room with her mother. (and her mothers bed) Now that we have had more contact with HR, we have discovered things-She has a fixed diet. A bad, diet. She refuses to eat or try new things, and the act of putting ONE FRIGGEN BEAN on her plate warranted a call to her lawyer complaining we were force feeding the child. HR has since seen my sister ask her nephew if he had ever tried something. He said no, and she offered him a tiny bite. With interest HR saw him eat it and then comment “It’s nothing to write home about” We have also discovered HR does not – respond properly. She has had no discipline in her life. Now, that isn’t saying that discipline is using a belt, or being made to stand in the corner- her inappropriate actions are not corrected. If she hits some one, she is not told no, don’t do that. She flung things around the room and when informed ladies don’t do that, (which is the sole expression of discipline allowed) she laughed and threw more things.We were in the store and she wanted to climb over the furniture and up on the shelves and I said no. She flung herself on the floor and began screaming at the top of her lungs.My reaction to that was ‘You can scream all you want, but if your down there now, do you want to help the store by dusting the hard to reach places.” Her mother charged over and immediately began to comfort HR, then allowed her to walk on the furniture. “Don’t make her scream! Let her do it if it keeps her quiet “ was what I was told.The other improper response is more heart wrenching. HR does not know how to hug, or to say “I love you” She stands stiff, and if some one says “I love you” to her she says nothing. At best, she says “Ok” It has taken months for her to respond in a half hearted hug to her grandmother, but she still does not say “I love you”My brother has videos of his daughter, from before she was born. He managed to save them from his wife who threw out most of his life. He would come home from work and plug the tape in and watch the video of the sonogram. He has loved his daughter from the moment that he knew he was going to be a dad.HR was a twin you see. There would have been a second baby, a little boy born had D followed the Drs orders. She had to go see a movie with her sister and she started bleeding. They saved HR, but couldn’t save the other one. KP watches the videos of her birthday parties, of her on the swing and when she played soft ball. He stays up at night, clinging to those memories. They are all that he has in the waking hours of his daughter. His buisness is picking up, but the money is going to pay the lawyers, and the bills that she has walked away from. He knows no other job. His work is exquisite, and there is a demand for it- but between it, and D, it will lead him into an early grave.D does not care of the heart break she has caused the family. SM, our sister over heard D’s lawyer asking “ How far into the ground do you want me to grind him?”“Into dust” D responded.