Turbulent Times


Monday, April 06, 2009 the day the following email was written and sent.  We had been divorced for three years at that point in time. As I recall my house arrest and probation were almost complete.  Paz, the ex thought she was getting back at me for something I never did, but would pay heavily for.

I’m Steve, and I continue to be dogged by her fantastically made-up story. The totally fabricated and untrue story was read by her attorney aloud in the courtroom, to the judge. Paz was not there.  I never saw the words even though I had asked Washington County 10th Judicial Circuit if I could see or get a copy of the letter.  I was not allowed to see it much less obtain a copy.

I had gone to the police station to ask for the police reports; they were never shown to me.  Again, I was not allowed.  Innocent until proven guilty…humph! It was a time in American history when immigrants were treated as supreme beings and white men (myself included) were to blame for everything under the sun. But I will refrain from telling the truth of that matter because nobody, including my family, believed me.

In defense of my family, we had grown up with a violent, paranoid schizophrenic brother and I knew they were just tired of the pall that seemingly hung over all of us; I love them all dearly.

Divorce, whether a child is involved or not can be messy and we had a child. Our divorce was smooth but a year later turned bitter.  Now, more than a decade later and we still cannot be civil to each other for more than a few minutes.

We also were disadvantaged in another way, our cultures were opposites.  Paz was from the Philippines one of the poorest countries in the world.  Me, I’m from, Minnesota and America is, of course, one of the richest countries in the same world.  Our climates are diametrically opposed.  The Philippines once a hot and humid jungle atmosphere is now, hot, humid and dense with smog. They have two seasons either hot and dry or, the other season, hot and wet. It is always hot and humid.

Many who walk outside, use handkerchiefs over their face and especially covering their noses.  I’ve been in traffic jams there and once while riding in a tricycle (motorcycle with sidecar) we were stopped behind a large bus and, “Splat” a large, black, sticky blob of smog from the buses tailpipe splattered my eyeglasses.  I did have the obligatory hanky over my face, though, just not high enough.  I’ve seen days where the green of the earth goes into their sky turning it from blue to a sickening green, and the start of a new day had begun.

Minnesota contrary to the Philippines has four seasons with winters at times reaching minus seventy degrees Fahrenheit, that is cold, and we’ve been likened to Siberia.  One of Minnesota’s cities earned and held onto the nickname, “Icebox of the Nation.”  The winter weather seems to begin in October and last through April and into May.  We’ve  had summers when the temp doesn’t get out of the seventies except for a couple of days.  Each season is met with anticipation.  See what I mean about being opposites?

In addition, there is the age thing.  I am twenty-three years her senior.  And I am not just a regular guy.  I am permanently disabled with a brain injury.

While living at a small duplex in Bataan Province, I once yelled at her son for digging through the trash.

I said to Paz, “Your son doesn’t need to scavenge for food any longer; he has food here.”

Instead of being thankful, Paz turned on me and angrily shouted, “He is not looking for food! All kids do that!”

I told her that I hadn’t seen that before, then, I began questioning myself.  Was I wrong again? Mr. Confident (me) could no longer trust himself because of that damn severe traumatic, brain injury that Paz never let me forget.  She would say in public, “Why you walk like that?” Paz knew the answer.

My slurred at times, and slowed speech had her treat me in a condescending way.   However, my speech had nothing to do with my intelligence.  Dysarthria – Difficulty in articulating words and slurring of speech due to emotional stress or to (paralysis, my situation), incoordination, or spasticity of the muscles used in speaking. And, Dysphasia – Impairment of speech and verbal comprehension, (especially when associated with brain injury.) are what caused me problems brought on by the TBI.

I could no longer bear living with her and I must say that, neither could Paz stand me.  So at the end of May 2006 our toddler-aged daughter and I began moving.

I had told Paz of my plans ahead of time and she said, “That’s fine because I’ll be at Cecil’s (her sister) in New York.  Sorry I won’t be able to help you move.” I hadn’t planned on her helping because it wouldn’t benefit her in the least.

We divorced in September of that same year.  I asked her if we could use the same attorney because of my lowly financial situation and she acquiesced. She did many evil things to me (hence to our daughter) in the years following.  For the time and thousands of dollars she has cost me since the divorce it would have been less expensive to have her get her own attorney.  I was given “Primary Custody” of our child who was three years old at the time.  Please listen carefully as I explain the happening.

We talked and decided it would be best to split up.  Stephanie would stay with me because Paz worked which would’ve meant daycare for our daughter every day.  That would have been ridiculous and expensive for Paz.

Because of my disability I am not able to locate a job with a sustainable wage.  Instead, I suggested having Steph stay with me as I, her dad,  could care for her more lovingly and would work with her in some of the ways I’d been helped.  You see, when Stephanie was only two, she was diagnosed with autism.

One of the triggers on why I divorced Paz was because she said this to me one morning, “Why you spend so much time with Stephanie?”

I will tell you the reader just what I told Paz as I walked from the bathroom where I had been potty-training Steph past the archway to the kitchen where Paz sat at the table and condescendingly glared at me.

“Stephanie has autism which means she is going to have more difficulty in life than most.  I will help her where I can,” I said.

And then Paz angrily countered with, “Why you not yell at her for coloring on the carpet with color crayons? You yelled at Joey when he colored on the floor back in the Philippines!”

“I’ll tell you why if you’ll listen and give me time to talk… The reason is because I had told Joey not to color on the floor or the doors, or the walls remember?  I had never mentioned it to Stephanie so I am not going to yell at her for something she had no idea was wrong.”

It really was better for Stephanie that her mom and I split. We never should have married in the first place, but my TBI had wiped out my confidence, and so I listened to a person whom I respected greatly (my dad), but who had never met her.

“You won’t have to worry about how Steph is being cared for because you know that I am very capable; I mean I’m doing it now. You will be able to see her anytime you want.  I won’t ask for child support as long as you help provide for groceries, her clothing and her schooling once that begins.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Moving day.  2 Guys and a Truck were hired to help us move.  The transfer of large furniture went well but after Steph and I had completed most of the move with my car we returned to the apartment.  I took one more look around when I came across this letter from Paz written on the back of one of Steph’s paper’s from the autism society…

I’m Sorry

I’m sorry that I yelled at you.

I’m sorry that I didn’t answer when you ask.

I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings all the time.

I’m sorry for not being a perfect wife.

I’m sorry we don’t get along.

I’m sorry for everything.

I want you and Stephie to get settled down before I’ll leave.

I’m going back home because that’s where I belong.

I’m sorry that we met and I caused you a lot of trouble.

I want Stephie and you to be peaceful and happy.

Just let Stephie forget about me and let her believe I died in an accident.

You and I tried many times. We tried hard, but couldn’t make our marriage work.

We survived many last chances, but we couldn’t make it.

Out of all the last chances we took…we still ended up with nothing.

I was happy to know your family. They were nice to me, especially Dad.  Wish him good luck.

I thank you for bringing me in this country, for showing me everything I haven’t seen before.

I thank you for feeding me and Joey for two years that we lived with you in the Philippines.

I thank you for saving me from disgrace when you marry me after, Stephie, was born.

I thank you for everything…..Paz.

So that was it…my younger brother, Dave, and his son, Adam, moved the furniture that Paz and I said we’d split, to her duplex in Stillwater.

Stephanie began kindergarten without need of special education of any kind and achieved each new grade with ease.  She did that despite the government’s interference. Stephani also had a hearing deficit.  I could not afford the hearing aids without government assistance and to get that help, Stephanie was required to be in “Special Education.”

I was told over and over that special ed didn’t have the stigma tied to it when I grew up because I had repeatedly asked.  Stephanie has never had a learning disability.  I had to move from Minnesota to Missouri to get her hearing aids without any sort of special class…except for her “Honors English.”

Yes, Stephanie is mostly a straight “A” student with a few of her past and present teachers saying, “She would get a higher grade but our grading system does not allow it.”

I thought back to her fourth grade teacher and how N. T. scornfully replied to a question I asked, “Even when Stephanie is given time at school to do her homework, she is reading.”

To which I replied, “Isn’t that a good thing and shouldn’t homework to be done at home?  That is what the name says.” I was unaccustomed to the new way of learning.

History had all been changed from when I went to school for when I tried helping her with that subject, I was always met with, “That’s not what the teacher says.” And I was old enough that I could give first hand accounts on some of it.

How dare I dispute the teacher’s words.  So I tried to make her teacher feel good by sending an e-mail and asking the rules for the apostrophe because surely she would know the answer to that one, but lo and behold, she didn’t know the correct answer at least not the one I’d been given at, “The Loft, A Place for Writing…”

So, what is one to do when the person educating your child is less knowledgeable than you?  Just bare it I guess.

I asked Steph on more than one occasion, “How would you like it if I were to teach you at home?”

But that idea was met with a resounding no!

Regarding her speech, and even though mine wasn’t the clearest, I worked with her and was able to get good pronunciation of her name and address. I repeatedly asked her for that information to brand into her young mind. My poor speech is caused by something physical that, I’ve been told, cannot be corrected.  Spelling tests each morning before school along with pronunciation of written words is what we did while eating breakfast.

Because in first grade, she was given books to read by the teacher in which there were many words misspelled.  Though, she had been reading regularly since age four I didn’t want the wrong spellings to mix her up.  I made her read the book to me and asked what each incorrectly spelled word meant.  Stephanie knew the answer to each question posed to her, so I allowed her to read the entire series.  The spelling was done wrong to accentuate certain ideas.  I thought it terrible to be teaching young kids with misspelled words.  Some teachers are so lazy…some.

I taught her to sound each word out and to break those words into syllables.  And also with math – up until the fifth grade because that was when “common core” was introduced to the students and it caused me such anxiety.

For example: 8+8 – I explained to her how I arrived at 16; I broke it down for her, 2+2 = 4.  4+4 = 8. And then 8+8 = 16.   She understood all of that, but still claimed I was doing it wrong.   “We have to show our work Dad.”

“Isn’t that what I just did,” I asked her?

Then Stephanie showed me an example on a paper the teacher did in school.

1+2=3 – 2+2=4 – 3+2=5 – 4+4=8 – 5+5=10 – 6+6=12 – 7+7=14 – 8+8=16…

Well that is the right answer but you do not need to add all those numbers, I told her.

“We have to Dad, or it will be wrong.”

I understood that, so got out a sheet of paper and wrote 8+8 = 16.  That was it…I could help her no more because Common Core in my estimation, is ridiculous.

Stephanie’s love of learning began at age one and a half when I read to her every night.  When I wasn’t home she was paging through the phone book and then the Bible.  Upside down, forward or backward, it didn’t matter to her as she sat seriously looking and turning each separate page and when she had gone through the entire book, she turned it over and began anew.

In the earliest of years when I left for work, (Dad paid me for keeping the doors open to the public at his carpet store, and cleaning while there)  Stephanie would cling to me and hug tightly as I held the little pouf ball in my arms.  I felt guilty because Dad paid me. I knew that I wasn’t worth it or maybe I was.  I had such an unworthy outlook about myself.  I loathed me because I had a desire to do many things and yet could do nothing.

He always made claims to the contrary saying, “Steve, I have to pay somebody so I’d rather it be you” and always smiling and joking trying to lift my spirits; it should have been me trying to lift his…More to feel guilty about. Besides, I am an excellent cleaner, maybe a little too detailed at times so I shouldn’t have felt guilty.  Dad made good money at his carpet store just as he did with any venture he tackled.

His decorating business was highly successful and I was a big part of that.  When we were on the road redecorating Holiday Inns and Howard Johnson Hotels I was hanging two hundred yards of vinyl a day.  My younger brother, Dave, would get the rooms prepared ahead of me.  Those chores of removing all furniture, pulling up carpet and spraying ceilings in all rooms, a fresh white.  He and his partner (another employee) patched walls and then we all sanded and finally Dave and Jeff sprayed each wall with sealer that turned sticky and helped bond the pasted vinyl onto the surface. . .

Here’s that email written and posted Monday, April 6, 2009.

Paz,

The following excerpt from the paper is exactly why I will not allow, Stephanie, to go with you when I have no address or phone number of where she will be.  Why you refused to supply that information is beyond me, well, why you did what you did is beyond me.

Since you have not seen Stephanie in months nor contributed to her well being, except only occasionally, I think it best that you grant me full custody.  I will end the pursuit of child-support immediately when you do.

Do not lie about trying to see her… You sent instant messages (I/M’s) to me saying that the government was sending you back to the Philippines. A few weeks later wanted You wanted to take her and even sent your sister here to kidnap her…something you had mentioned doing in the texts that I was saving.  You wiped out all texts that day.  Had I let her go with Cecilia I would never have seen her again.   Cecille then called but Dad and the ILS worker were there and she sensed the other people because she said, “I think there is somebody there,” she hung up.

I do not have any money…thanks for that.  You have made raising Stephanie terribly difficult.  The things you had done to me, in most people’s book’s, would deserve at least a life sentence, more like death.  You lied about my care of you and Joey in the Philippines… You wanted me to tell your own daughter that you died in an accident as you were conniving with your sister about moving to New York so as not to have to face charges for what you did to me.

Steve

St. Paul police seek mom, two children missing after visitation

Rafael Espinoza, left, is 6 years old. His sister, Mayla Marisol Espinoza, is nine.

St. Paul police are looking for a woman they believe took her two children after a weekend visitation and has not returned.

Cindy Kaye Adler, 35, took Mayla Marisol Espinosa, 9, and Rafael Espinosa, 6, during a visitation that began last Friday, police said. Police were alerted on Monday, when Adler did not return with the children.

Investigators discovered that Adler had moved from her address and left no forwarding information. They believe she has relatives in the Winona area and in Cochrane, Wis. Ramsey County has issued two felony warrants for her.

Adler is described as white, 5-foot-5, 170 pounds, with red hair and brown eyes.

Mayla Espinosa is 4-foot-5, 52 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a pink and white jacket and pink and black snowpants.

Rafael Espinosa is 4-foot-2, 40 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a black and blue jacket and red long-sleeved shirt.

By the way…you have been blocked.‏

 

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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