by Honorable Anne Kass. Ann Kass is a District Judge in the Second Judicial District State of New Mexico
Learning from other peoples' mistakes is an all-too-rare occurrence, but it occurred recently to a father in family court.
This particular father is not your average, run-of-the-mill father. He is a wonderfully wise father, one who ought be considered for a father-of-the-year award. He is also a kind man.
This father is a police officer. One of the less-than-pleasant realities of his professional life is that he must respond to domestic violence calls. One of the less-than-pleasant realities of his personal life is that he is divorced, and his former wife has moved to another state, and she wants their young son to move with her.
Some months ago the officer was called to the scene of domestic violence. At the scene he met a father, a mother and their teenage son. The parents were in the middle of an ugly, acrimonious divorce, and they were fighting.
The teenage boy said to the officer, "Can't you please stop them fighting. I can't take it anymore."
The officer said he'd try, and noticing the youngster seemed to be in more than usual distress, he gave the boy his name and phone number and told him to call if he needed a friend.
The boy called the officer now and again, and they'd talk. Then one day the boy called when the officer wasn't available. The officer tried to call him back when he got the message, but they didn't connect.
Later that night, the officer was called to the scene of a suicide. It was his young friend. He'd left a note saying that it seemed to him the only way to stop his parents fighting was for him to die. The parents didn't miss a beat. As they watched their son's body being taken away, each accused the other, "This is all YOUR fault". The fight continued.
The officer's own custody dispute was scheduled to go to court within days of that event. He walked into the court proceeding and said, "I will agree to my son leaving New Mexico with his mother and coming back to see me during school breaks and holidays. This fight is over."
This father gave his son the most loving and generous gift in the world. He gave his son peace. The cost of the gift to the father was enormous, not in money, but in time with his child, which is priceless and can never be replaced. This father is my idea of a hero. He made a great, personal sacrifice so his son wouldn't have to.