Monday, 19 January 2009

Sisters are doin' it for themselves

It is awards season. And I'm not just talking about the blogging ones that are flying around, nice as they are to receive. I'm talking about the Oscars, Baftas, Golden Globes and everything else that livens up the news each morning with a bit of escapist celebrity-related froth. (Everything else is just too gloomy; I'm beginning to have to switch the radio off when the presenter announces: 'and now more bad news about the stock market' and Robert Peston of the BBC just needs to take a holiday). From Kate Winslet's ridiculous emotional speech, to the raging debate over whether Slumdog Millionaire, highly tipped for the top awards, is a feelgood movie (and I STILL haven't seen it yet, so I'll have to reserve my judgement) it's all about the nominations, trophies and frocks.

But now I'd like to hand out an award. And not to some smug actress who's had to spend, oh poor thing, seven months on location holed up with Ralph Fiennes in a trailer (no, I'm not jealous, Kate, I'm really not...).

My Oscar this year would go to my little sister.

Pretty well exactly a year ago, her partner of over 15 years and father of her two small children walked out on her. He didn't give a reason at first, apart from mumbling something about it just not working any more. He just went, and at first she didn't even know where he was staying. He refused to answer his mobile and didn't even call to ask how the children were - despite the fact that his then four year old son absolutely worshipped his Dad. Although he had been behaving oddly in the run up to this - staying out late drinking after work, in some instances not even coming home and saying he'd 'slept on a mate's floor' - he denied hotly that there was anyone else involved.

It wasn't until a month or so later that she was contacted through Facebook, of all things, by a complete stranger who informed her that HIS girlfriend was having an affair. With her partner. He had followed them from work, caught them in the act, and worked out through the machinations of Facebook who my sister was, in order to let her know. Her partner, from herewith known as Mr Dastardly, reluctantly admitted the truth - it had been going on for months.

I should mention that at the point at which this happened, my sister was midway through a very intensive graduate teacher training course, having decided, in her early 30s, to retrain as an Art teacher. She was working five days a week, and most of the weekend too, and was just about managing to hold it together with two children under the age of five. So to become a single mother at this point in the proceedings was not, shall we say, exactly helpful.

Mr Dastardly didn't see or talk to the children for the first four months, or even do her the courtesy of calling her to discuss how they were going to divide up their worldly goods. It was only because, with the help of my Dad, she contacted a lawyer, that they have ended up with an arrangement for Mr Dastardly to see his offspring for a few hours each weekend. (Fatherly duties are clearly not a priority for Mr Dastardly, who went away to Scandinavia for Christmas with his new girlfriend, not even bothering to call on Christmas Day and speak to the children.)

But I am proud to say that one year on, my sister is thriving. Not only did she manage to qualify as a teacher, she landed a plum job in the grammar school where she was training, and is loving her new career. She looks fantastic (having lost several stones in weight through sheer stress) and thanks to the help of friends, is starting to forge herself a social life. And this weekend, she organised a superb party for her son's fifth birthday, with an entertainer, dancing and the nicest-looking birthday tea I think I can remember. I haven't seen my nephew look so happy since his Dad left.

Some people (probably me) would have completely fallen apart, but the way she has found the strength to pick herself up and carry on is incredible. So I just wanted to share her story with a few people out there. And the parenthood Oscar for this year goes to her.

Oh, and if you know Mr Dastardly, give him a nice big slap in the face for me, won't you?


Home Office Mum said...

Your sister sounds as though she deserves an Oscar (and a large slice of chocolate cake). Well done her for bouncing back. Well done you for being a kind sister. And a big fat slap for Mr Dastardly who sounds like a right git. I just want to take men like that and introduce them to the blunt end of a baseball bat.

Dumdad said...

I couldn't imagine not seeing my children at that age for four days, let alone four months, even if I was holed up somewhere romantic with Kate Winslet.

And, deep down, I imagine his girlfriend will be slightly perturbed that he could so casually turn his back on his own kids. Because one day when the fizz in their relationship isn't quite as fizzing . . . but I'd never walk out on Kate Winslet, just to put her mind at rest.

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

Grrrr. I hate reading stories like this. Giving up your kids for another woman? Beggars belief.
Gives dads a bad name when I know that any who come by and read this will be horrified.

Good for your sister for being strong and building herself a new life.
I wonder if his is as fulfilling a year down the line when the novelty has worn off and he's not seeing his kids grow up?

Iota said...

Good for her. She sounds a wonderful person.

I bet you're a great support too.

Nota Bene said...

I'm glad she's doing so well...go girl, go. And I hope the kids grow up unaffected.

And I hope Mr Dastardly lives with the pain of his actions for ever.

Not that I'm vindictive.

Potty Mummy said...

Pretty much what they all said. Rotten fish in his air conditioning unit is too good for him.(But would be a start...)

that girl? said...

Wow... your sister sounds like an amazing strong person and all credit, awards (and chocolate cake!) should definitely go her way! As for Dick (for wasnt that Mr Dastardly's first name?!).. he'll get his come uppance don't you worry! They all do in the end. And might I suggest sewing frozen prawns into his curtain hems to go with the fish in the aircon unit?

Anonymous said...

Mr Dastardly is well named: my father pretty much did that to me.

Not to condone revenge (in any sense at all) but next time he swans off to Scandinavia with his Bit Of Stuff in tow, a subtle (and anonymous) call to Customs to 'suggest' that he might be smuggling drugs 'internally' will get him a pleasant acquaintance with an official at Heathrow with a large rubber glove. Just a thought!

(word verification: entart. Exactly)

nappy valley girl said...

Home office Mum - my feelings exactly...

Dumdad - I think that hopefully most men would feel the same as you about it (And I'm sure Kate Winslet will be relieved to hear it). Agreed about the new girlfriend, although God only knows what tale he has told her, as he's proved economical with the truth on everything else.

Tara - I wonder too. He has already lost out on so much.

Iota - thanks. I feel constantly guilty that I haven't helped more, as we don't live in the same city. But I guess I have been there at the end of the phone line.

NB - oh, be as vindictive as you like!

PM - you're right, too good. Believe me, if he wasn't the father of my nephew and niece I would have done all sorts of things by now!

That Girl - frozen prawns is another good one (although a freshly soiled nappy from one of of my boys might be even better..)

Mud - poor you and your mum. (But you know, the most bizarre thing about this is that Mr Dastardly's father did it to him too. And he never forgave him for it....)

Millennium Housewife said...

Wow, what a post, brings a lot of things into perspective, clap her the back for us will you. MH

Bush Mummy said...

What a trooper..

What a sh*t..

He doesn't deserve those gorgeous children..

I'm a great believer in what goes around comes around.. watch that space..

Definitely a worthy Oscar winner.

BM x

Audrey said...

That is a sad story but I do think that in the end, she will be so much better without him. And it is really tragic for the children who are the real victims in these situations so maybe a couple of mini oscars for them as well.

As for the "hussey" I agree with Dumdad, who would want someone who behaves like this?

Lesley Neil said...

Oh Alex.... this is making me so angry!!!! I just deleted all my ranting, but I will say just one thing: I believe in karma. Mr Dastarly will get what's coming to him and hurrah for your sister - a perfect choice for your parentood oscar.

A Confused Take That Fan said...

I also believe in what goes around comes around. I read a feature in a mag recently about a bloke who did just the same thing. Girl ended up leaving him and now his all alone in his bacholorpad thinking he was in fact a shite.
If relationships don't work - fair enough, although denying it is just cowardly, but to not bother about your children....I just don't get it. Your sister will end up happier than he. Without a doubt. Well done her. I think I'd still be sobbing into my gin...