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I think often of my dad when I mow the grass. I remember him mowing it on Shuler Avenue when I was little.

I didn’t get to see him much but I remember hating when I was there and he’d have to go mow the grass . I was too little to help and I resented anything that took away even an hour of my precious time with him.

But that would pass the minute he was finished and he’d come back inside, smelling of freshly mown grass and the sticky heat of summer. I couldn’t wait to get him a glass of water or a cold beer from the fridge to help cool him down after the task. I felt so grown up to serve him. Sometimes I’d pretend I was a waitress and take his order when he came in. I couldn’t write yet, so I’d just scribble on paper pretending I could, thinking I was so clever to make my daddy believe I knew how to write!

Mowing grass makes me think of my beloved lawn on my house on Roosevelt. The yard was huge but it was so beautiful, I enjoyed getting it just perfect so my daughters and their friends and I could hang out barefoot in the grass playing or practicing cheerleading stunts. It smelled of lilacs and roses and fresh grass. I took great joy in completing it even though it was almost a full day’s job. I was so proud of our pretty little house, it’s good energy, and it beautiful yard… to finally provide my kids with our very own home we could decorate as we liked rather than all the rentals we’d lived in where I couldn’t paint or landscape the way we all wanted.

Their dad scammed that from us, although he didn’t pay a dime of his own money for that house. He scammed me with lies then later stole it with deceit, to hurt me and just to prove that “he could”. Just because I was trusting enough when my dad said, “you’re paying for that house with his name on the mortgage; make damn sure you get that agreement in writing”. So when I asked Mark for our agreement in writing saying my dad had suggested we just make sure there was never any confusion as to who was paying for this house and who it belonged to, Mark cried. He cried on the phone saying, “I’m so hurt you’d think I’d ever do something so dishonest to you or our girls like take your house!”

And true to narcissistic manipulation, sure enough, I ended up apologizing for even asking that our agreement be put in writing. I apologized for asking.

Three years later, he lied in court and said it was his, claiming he was buying this house 2000 miles away from where he lives as his “summer home” and he lied in court saying that with the sole intent of leaving his daughters and me homeless to “teach us a lesson” . And after threatening my dad that he’d never speak to him again if he let us stay with him after he’d stolen our house.

He rents it out now.

Sometimes I wonder if the people living in it know how many months my dad and children and I searched endlessly for the perfect home for me to buy for my daughters and I to live in forever. The house I pictured getting my children ready for their first prom in, or imagined when I’d watch them pull in the driveway the day they got their driver’s license, or how I’d imagined waiting for them in the front room to come home from their first date to tell me all about it, or how every time I mowed the grass I’d think of summer parties we could throw with all their friends and twinkle lights around the fence. Or how I’d scraped and saved money from nothing just to buy that little above ground pool for them and their friends to enjoy that first summer we lived there and how much fun we had playing in it and how proud I was to have afforded it even while paying for our home. Or how I couldn’t afford a lawnmower so my dad brought his over every weekend so I could keep the yard perfect. Every weekend he lugged that lawnmower over so I could make sure our yard was immaculate and beautiful so my daughters could be proud of our home

It wasn’t a mansion like Mark lived in when he lied and said it was his. It wasn’t some glorious expensive thing, but it was ours.

I’d scrimped and scraped just to have it; just so my children could have a permanent forever home of their own to be proud of.

To be our home base forever. It was always all ours.

Right up until the day their dad lied in court to say it wasn’t ours.

…Just because he “could”. Just because I had been stupid enough to trust a lying cheating, abusive pathological narcissist.

Trusted a pathetic excuse of a human being who had CRIED at the “insult” to his honor that I’d even ask for our agreement in writing. CRIED that I’d ever even imagine he’d do something so deceitful and hurtful as to take a home he knew wasn’t his… and never had been his…

our home.