Return to Sender

For those of you who have read my memoir, Southern Fried Fiction, you already know that my third wife, Linda, had reached a point in our marriage where she had to drop me from her payroll, cut me loose. Given the mess I’d become, I can understand her reasoning more clearly now. And accept responsibility for my actions. ‘For better or worse’ was interfering with her life and ambitions. I’ll leave it at that.

In draft after draft of the manuscript, I kept taking blame out of her hands and putting it into mine. I thought my story was fair and balanced, and I was especially careful to avoid discussion of her midlife shenanigans in order to protect her stellar career. By the way, her real name isn’t Linda Murphy.

When my book was published in May, I thought about sending her a copy, but I didn’t. I’d be getting married again in July and wanted a smooth engagement. I thought I’d wait until my marriage to Lisa was behind me.

With nothing but good intentions, I put two copies of my memoir in the mail last week: one to Linda and one to my estranged son, Sam. He’d never heard my side of the story before and I thought it was about time. He’s twenty-nine years old, has a good job and is financially secure. This would be the prefect time to share my story with him. I couldn’t get through to him otherwise, so what did I have to lose?

Apparently, everything.

Linda immediately returned my book, which I received today along with the following handwritten note:

Stuart —

Thanks for the gesture but I couldn’t be less interested. I’m sure people in your life have a very different perspective about what happened. Your story telling is a such a gross invasion of privacy. I fear if you ever hoped to have a relationship with Sam (or others), writing this book insured it will never happen.


The book looked sterile and unopened. But her words sprung off the page in an unmistakably ominous fashion. Whether or not Sam reaches such a conclusion on his own is moot. She will try and insure that I never have a relationship with my son. Her stepson.

Still, as a father, it is a blessing to be able to continue loving my son, unconditionally. No one can take that away from me. Except me.

I welcome reader comments.

Stuart Hotchkiss
August 14, 2015


2 thoughts on “Return to Sender

  1. Stuart, I wish you much success in mending your relationship with your son. Don’t ever give up on him. As for your ex, sometimes, it’s best to cut all ties in order to move on efficiently. I have been married three times. My marriage now is great and we’ll be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in October. My youngest son and his father were estranged for many years. I had nothing to do with that and felt sorry for his father for not having a relationship with his son. They now have that relationship, his son visits him occasionally, and they took a cruise together earlier this year. I’m telling you this to give you comfort in knowing that your persistence with your son will pay off. It may not be overnight, but it can happen.


    1. Thanks, Kim. I’ve come to realize that all of what you’ve suggested is true. It’s sad to hear other like stories, but it’s also comforting to know I’m not alone. So proud of you for making it to a 30th wedding anniversary!! Way to go!! Hope you have a fantastic celebration in October!!


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