Surrender to Love
May 4 is a sacred date for Anthony Marr. It is the birthday of Christopher, born 1989, a child he loved as he would his own son since May 4, 1989, at first sight. Every year since 1994, he celebrates this day, on his own.
Anthony was like a father to Christopher whose own biological father, an alcoholic who had abusive tendencies when drunk, was barred from seeing Christopher by Christopher’s mother “Christine” as of Christopher’s age of 1. And shortly before Christopher’s fourth birthday, Anthony, too, was barred from seeing him, though for totally different reasons.
Anthony was not an alcoholic, and is by nature a kind-hearted, soft-spoken and gentle-mannered man. He and Christine were exes turned friends, and had been since the late 1970s. One of the reasons for their breakup was that Christine herself was abusive, in the bi-polar kind of way. And unfortunately, he became the father figure of Christopher, in Christopher’s own eyes, and, inevitably, disagreements between him and Christine would surface on the topic of child rearing. And Christine did not take to it kindly whatsoever, even if his input could have saved Christopher’s life.
Another unfavorable factor was simply the fact that he belongs to the male gender, which Christine regarded with disdain. This made Anthony wonder how she would view Christopher, the fact that he belonged to the male gender himself.
Anthony and Christopher were closely bonded, so much so that once, when Christopher was about two, he called Anthony “dad”, for which he was severely reprimanded by Christine. Since the day Christopher was born, Anthony had regularly seen him on average four times a week – three times during week days after work and at least once during weekends when he often took Christopher out by himself to give Christine a break. And they would always have a wonderful time. A favorite activity was for Anthony to randomly drive around the city looking for playgrounds, and whenever they came across one, they would play there for a while. They called it “playground cruising”.
Since Christopher came into the world and Anthony’s life, Anthony has been viewing the world and himself through the boy’s eyes (much as I view the world through his). There was nothing Anthony did that was not prescreened through the filter of his constant vigilance for the child’s wellbeing. Unfortunately, all these, in combination with Christine’s jealous nature, sealed the heart-breaking fate of their wonderful relationship.
The deep problem surfaced when Christopher was about two and a half years of age. One day, after work, entering Christine’s townhouse on a regular visit, Anthony heard Christopher screaming upstairs, “Mommy! Mommy! Don’t hit me with the wooden spoon! I won’t do it again!” Anthony went straight to Christine and took the wooden spoon from her hand. This was about the only physical thing Anthony has ever done to Christine.
Another time was more typical. Upon entering the townhouse, Anthony heard Christopher call his name from upstairs. When he looked at Christine questioningly, Joanne told him that Christopher was being confined to his room for some misdemeanor. Anthony’s heart ached for Christopher, and could not help but go upstairs to see him. In Christopher’s room, Anthony asked Christopher what he had done, and after Christopher had answered and said he was sorry, Anthony said, “Will you come with me and apologize to mommy?” Christopher said, “yes, Uncle Tony.” So Anthony took Christopher in his arms, and brought him downstairs to see Christine. Christopher said a simple yet wonderfully touching apology to Christine who seemed, quite inexplicably, to Anthony anyway, extremely displeased. Only later did he see that Christine regarded this as an interference of her child rearing, and an undermining of her authority, but by then, the damage was done.
The final clincher came one day shortly afterwards. While Anthony took Christopher out berry picking one weekend afternoon, he noticed that Christopher seemed upset. When asked, Christopher said, “I don’t like mommy very much. She is mean to me.” Anthony agonized about this, and decided to tell Christine about it, thinking that it would be of help. And final nail came shortly after, when Christopher said to someone, “I love Uncle Tony more than mommy, because Uncle Tony is never mean to me.” That was the beginning of the end.
Soon thereafter, Christine unilaterally cut down Anthony’s visiting frequency from four times a week to twice a week. In addition to the pain of the set back, Anthony took to blaming himself for betraying Christopher’s confidence.
The end came in February of 1993, when Christopher was three and three quarters years of age. It happened while Anthony was out on a business trip. As always while he was out of town, he would call Christopher at least once a day long distance, and would always bring Christopher a toy upon his return. On this day, when he called, he was stunned to find Christopher crying unconsolably. When Anthony asked him what was wrong, Christopher said, in between tearful sobs, “Uncle Tony, you are a very bad man, you hurt me and mommy. I don’t want to see you again. And I don’t want your toy.” Then the phone was taken from him, and Christine said, “This is the last time you will call Christopher. Do you understand?” And the line went dead. Anthony tried calling back, for days, and the line was not answered.
In the ensuing weeks, months, Anthony’s agony broke all previous records. He missed Christopher badly, this went without saying. But it was his keen awareness and empathy for Christopher’s own agony that was the hardest to bear, and his knowledge that severe damage was being wrought upon Christopher’s tender psyche that would force his next step. Some time in late spring, word reached him that Christopher had to see a psychiatrist. He called the psychiatrist, and was given the rudest reception from any professional person Anthony had ever encountered. She would not even give Anthony a chance to tell his side of the story. So, Anthony painfully thought, Christopher’s therapy is based on Christine lies!
In July 1993, after much deliberation, Anthony launched a legal suit for access to Christopher. But when in November Christine’s lawyer filed an affidavit listing one hundred points, no more, no less, against his character, including calling him a “pedophile”, and that he threatened to shoot Christopher “with a blue gun”, among other outlandish things. His attorney told him that the affidavit, hard to take as it was, could in fact be to his advantage, since it could be the battleground on which Christine could be discredited point by point, but, knowing Christine, it would be a very dirty fight, and that Christopher would be used as a pawn, and made to testify in support of Christine’s false accusations, his emotional well being held hostage, and his psyche further traumatized.
Realizing this, Anthony became more afraid of winning the case than losing it. Were Christine forced by the court to let him see Christopher, she would work on Christopher some more, this time to make him hate Anthony’s guts. This thought he could not withstand. Much against his fighter’s nature, he surrendered the case. This is the exception that proves the rule.
Since then, he had seen Christopher only once, and that was by chance. While driving down a street in 1994, he caught a glimpse of Christine leading Christopher by the hand into an apartment building he did not recognize. He circled the block, and they were gone. He sat outside the building for an hour, and they did not reappear. While driving away, Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven” came on the car radio. He had to pull his car off the road, because he had trouble seeing through his tears. For years since then, the song had served as a trigger for his emotional release. Once, it happened while he was on a date, and it wiped out his sense of humor for the rest of the evening. There was no second date.
As often is the case for tragedies, they bring out one’s worst, and best. And for his best, he has been confirmed as my avatar.
I am Raminothna,
The Fortunate and the Called Upon
at your service
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)