But we went to several. The more we went, the more it became a nice social gathering. And I looked at it that way and I played along. I played along real well, but I did learn some things. But I still wasn’t convinced because I was growing this great family with three beautiful little boys and a beautiful wife and I thought that our marriage was going just fine.
Rosalinde: But actually it wasn’t. John and I had your standard challenges along the way: disagreements, arguments and vying for position and who got the most personal time. And when we had arguments, I would say we didn’t resolve them. We just kind of brushed them under the rug. I did not like arguments or disagreements so the sooner they were over, the better.
And I would say I didn’t have a base of relationship with my children because I didn’t really even want to spend time with them. I didn’t feel confident in what I was doing and it was basically: get them through the day and get them in bed. I didn’t really enjoy being with them, especially the oldest one who was a particularly difficult child. It was very challenging for me and I was not fulfilled in what I was doing, yet I had three children and I was married, but where to go from there.
John: And I certainly was busy enough not to notice the fears that Ros had. At that time, it grew to a point where we hit a crisis in our lives. It’s interesting to recall that time in our lives and particularly in my life because I wasn’t the most humble guy, not at all. There was a time when my career was coming to an end in New York and I knew it. I spent a good ten years there and enjoyed a lot of the things, but we were on a downward spiral that year and to complicate matters more, my brother—who is my oldest brother, who I looked up to dearly because he was a goalie and I was a goalie, he was the first guy that beat me up but he was also the first guy to put his arms around me with a big hug and say “SHH!! Mom and Dad are coming!”—But at that time he slipped into a depression. And I didn’t really know what depression was at that time.
I thought I knew a lot of things, but you know, as you grow a little bit older and a little bit more older, you realize how little you really do know about yourself and about your family. And I stopped home on a road-trip. We played in Minnesota and I stopped home and I saw him in a state that was trance-like. And I was scared, very scared.
And I went to the hospital that he was at. I went in to see the Doctor and the Doctor says, “You can’t go in there!” And I said, “Well, how come? That’s my brother. I want to go visit my brother.” He says, “You can’t go in there. He didn’t give me authorization to let you in there.” And I said, “But that’s my brother.” And he said, “John, wait a second. Let me explain something to you. Your brother doesn’t want to help himself. And if he doesn’t want to help himself, I can’t help him.” And I thought, “Whoa! He doesn’t want to help himself!” That was something that put off a light bulb in my head.
But off I went. I had to go back and continue this downward spiral in the season that came to an end. We missed the play-offs so I was upset about that. But I got a call from my mother one day and she was crying on the other end of the phone and said that, “Your brother just took his life.” And for me, at that time I wasn’t surprised. And what a cold empty feeling that was; deep inside of me. That emptiness that I had because I had no emotion. I was in all these motions that I was doing but I had no emotion in my life. And that basically made me think about what the doctor said, “If you don’t want to help yourself, you’re not going to get better.”
And then, with that, we were moving, somewhere and we didn’t know where. It eventually ended up being Florida. I understand now how emotional moves are. That was an emotional time in our lives. And personally an emotional time in my life and so I carried a very empty feeling with me in moving all our stuff to Florida and having to start a basically new life. But what a new life it was.
Rosalinde: Well, when we got down to Florida and it was time to enroll the kids in school, when I tried to enroll my five-year-old—my difficult child that I’ve mentioned a couple of times—in kindergarten at a private school, they wouldn’t accept him. And I called John, and I was just beside myself and really didn’t know where to go from there. And I came upon the name of another school and called them and they took me in immediately and Ian, the oldest, was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Thank-you Lord for an answer to why I was having such a difficult time liking this child!
But anyway, Ben—our second—he was registered for a pre-school and that pre-school was part of a school which was part of a church also. So off they went to their respective schools with the baby at home and I spent some time at Ben’s school—the three-year-old—and met some incredibly nice people.
You have to understand the state I was in. I was so distraught. I was physically and emotionally and mentally distraught over the move and I got sick from the stress of it. And just coming from the base where I was—about being unhappy with myself anyway and not having that self-esteem, feeling like I had fooled everybody up to that point anyway about the kind of mother I was and the kind of wife I was—that things spiraled down-hill quickly for me. And when I found these people and there was just this incredible love that surrounded them in the church and in the school and they invited me to start attending church.
And I did and all I can say was that it was “Wow!!” I heard the message the first few Sundays and could not believe and wondered, “Where has God been all this time? Where have these words been all this time? I had never heard this before. This is in the Bible? I went to Church and I went to Sunday school. I don’t recall any of this!” My Pastor had the gift to communicate and the Lord opened my ears at the right time and opened my heart and it was a breath of fresh air and it was like these big giant arms coming around me and giving me the assurance that I was going to be okay. And I just grasped onto these people and onto this environment and they became my support system.
I went on from there for a year and attended the church and attended Bible studies on Sundays and started with the mom’s group there and got very involved with the school. And at the same time through our oldest son’s school they told us that if we wanted to help our child, we needed to marital counseling and we needed to get our relationship in order. But I literally felt like I was a volcano. I looked quiet and calm and serene on the outside, but yet I was filled with fear and anger and frustration and resentment; resentment most of all toward John. He was so successful and he accomplished so many things and the achievements were piling up and I did not know what my purpose was and I didn’t feel I had achieved anything.
And motherhood did not have a great meaning to me. Until I heard it preached in the church and through the Bible studies and parenting courses and suddenly I realized, “Wow! I have the most important role any person could ever ask for and I have been given three incredibly precious gifts. And they’re my responsibility. And thank-you for coming into my life at this point and letting me know.
John: At that time—I’m going to back up a bit and go back to when we moved—and I was back in New York packing up the last stuff in the U-haul ready to drive a truck with a U-haul down like a dog down to Florida. The last phone call I made to was to Ros and she was going there to get the kids in school because they started school there earlier and it was August and I figured, “Okay, this sounds pretty easy. We’re going to move down there. Going to get the kids enrolled in school. That’s no big deal. And then I’m going to be able to meet the guys and be able to basically train with everybody and then boom! we’re going to start on this great new adventure.”
Well, the last call I made was to Ros. I called her up and she was kind of sniffling on the other end of the phone. “What’s wrong?” I said, “How did it go today? Didn’t you enroll Ian into kindergarten?” She goes, “He wasn’t accepted!” And I pulled the phone away for a second and I was like, “How could you not be accepted into kindergarten. What’s this all about?”
And then she began to explain the process of what she had to go through of taking him to a school to be tested and finding out that he had ADD and that he’d have to go to a specific school to meet that need. So life’s challenges began right there and then, but I still had the fears and the questions inside that empty hole that was left from losing a brother. But we had to go on. And when we went down there it was quite a time because it was a time for hockey, it was new in Florida and we were getting accepted like royalty. And you know at that time, I still said to Ros that I’d go along with her thing. She wanted to go to this great new school and we’d go to church on Sunday. Sure, I’d play along.
At that time I started to see her change. And she actually started to really change, like in her relationship with Ian who could anger her very easily. And then she started to say that she was going to go to this mom’s group that meets every Wednesday. She started to take a Bible along with her and I started to look and say, “Hmm. This thing is very interesting.” And all this work that was done in New York and all this work that was being done at the church in school was starting to really teach her something. And when she grasps onto something, she grasps on with all her might. Believe me, when I tell you that.
And she started sharing with me some of this great love that she was feeling. And I started to feel it. It was just rolling right off her and it was rolling right onto me. And what a great feeling that was. And that empty hole inside of me was starting to feel little drips of something that was filling up. And I didn’t know what that was.
On our team, we started to have chapels. At first, it was introduced as “Aw, just come to this chapel. Just come and listen to this chaplain. And you know, it will only be about 10 minutes.” So, free invitation I figured “Aw, I’ll take it.” And I came in and I listened. And I listened intently. I started to hear words that were starting to affect me…affect these fears that I had. And they started to really feel strong.
And Ros’s gravitation towards this love and this caring church and all these new people in our lives was really starting to be fulfilling to me. I mean, I liked them. I liked the people at the church. I liked the people at the school. I started to really like the sermons on Sunday and pay close attention.
Why was this all happening to me? This voice kept on going on in my mind, “If you don’t want to help yourself, then you’re never going to get healed, you’re never going to feel right.”
I started to have some questions about it myself and I started to ask questions to the chaplain. And he came forward to me and started to explain things to me in a simple way. I never really heard anything in church I think when I was growing up. I knew Christmas and Easter and I knew some of the words that I had to say at confession. And I knew some of these things, but I really didn’t know what Jesus really did.
But I still had this problem and this hurdle because I had three beautiful boys that I could hug at night and kiss them good night. I had a beautiful wife that I could love and hug and kiss. And as I listened to this it was told to me that I have to put this God, this Jesus, first in my life. And I said, “I can not do this. How can I put somebody ahead of the people who I love in my family? I mean, I can’t do that.”