Scott typically came to the office in his Black Sabbath/heavy metal rock-like t-shirts and jeans unless he had scheduled meetings with clients. He had a reputation of being somewhat of a “player/bad boy” type – someone who had a few skeletons he kept a tight lip on yet very vocal if he saw a woman of interest across the room. Many of us working along side him were already married with young kids at the time. He on the other hand, recently divorced without children, drove a jaguar, and was the kind of guy everyone could count on to head to happy hour if you could get the hall pass from your spouse. At work, he worked hard – after hours, he played hard.
Scott was definitely not the “settling down” type. Perhaps it was because he had married and divorced in his twenties. Either way, he was not focused on what many of us were in our late twenties and early thirties– establishing our young families and lives in the suburbs.
Enter Natalie. Scott told his friends, “She’s beautiful, sweet and a lot fun.”
We all thought she sounded like a great fit.
That was until he said, “Oh, and she is a great mom. She has four kids – ages of 2, 4, 5 and 9 from a prior marriage.”
No way would that family fit into his jaguar. He insisted that he was falling hard for this girl, but behind his back (awful to admit), many of us joked about it being another fleeting romance. Four young kids would definitely hamper his single spontaneous lifestyle.
Weeks rolled by and he began talking more about Natalie and her kids to friends in the office. He spoke of them as a proud father would. Most of us were still in disbelief. He went from a jaguar to mini-van mentality practically overnight.
Scott met Natalie when she was only 31 years old. After dating her for almost 2 years, he proposed and they were married. Without any hesitation he took on raising her 4 young kids with her as if they were his own. At the time, their biological father was not very active in their lives. Scott proudly shared with his friends what each of their personalities were like – and how proud he was to be their stepfather. But this isn’t where the story ended rather this is where Scott’s story began.
Shortly after their marriage, Natalie became pregnant. They were thrilled to add to the family. Five kids. Many of us couldn’t believe it. Scott had become a family man right before our very own eyes.
Sadly, during Natalie’s 6 month of pregnancy, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Their daughter, Helena, was taken a month early so that she could start chemo and radiation immediately. She courageously battled the disease for 4 and ½ years but unfortunately lost her battle when she was only 37 years old. A mom to five young children, as would be expected, Natalie’s passing hit them all very hard. Scott, while mourning her untimely death, did what any good father and husband would do when a child loses a parent and a spouse loses their partner, he stood by his promise to raise their kids.
I recently reached out to him to hear how his story continued. I asked him what he remembered the most about their relationship and the impact it had on him.
He said, “Natalie taught me how to love and how to be selfless rather than selfish. She taught me how to be with someone. I was lucky, I had the chance to spend 6 wonderful years with Natalie and our 5 children before she had passed.”
I asked, “How are the children doing?” (It’s been about 5 1/2 years since she passed.)
“After Natalie’s death, the kid’s biological father began to be a bigger part of their lives fortunately. Though all 5 kids remained in my home with me during that period.”
Scott continued, “Although raising 5 children as a single dad can be challenging at times, it has given me a unique perspective on life. I am not a perfect dad by any means – they sure have taught me a lot. They have given me new meaning.”
Since time had passed, I decided to ask Scott if he had anyone special in his life.
He smiled and laughed, “Yes, yes I do. Her name is Tina. We’ve been dating over a year now. She is an amazing woman.”
I asked him what was so funny.
Scott responded, “Her husband died about 2 years ago from cancer. She is a widower with 4 young kids (3 boys and 1 girl). Between the two of us, I guess you could say we have 9 kids.”
What I found so amazing wasn’t the number of kids in his life or that he was dating a woman with a similar experience (yet, that was shocking), it was how settled he had become. How his priorities had changed him. How his children changed him. How much of his happiness was now tied up in having a family and a wonderful partner.
Scott continued, “Until you live it, you don’t get it. I could have never imagined the life I have now before I met Natalie. Or even since she’s passed. But I know she came into my life for a purpose. I think it was to provide a blanket of love and care around the children not knowing what God had in store for their mother, and to make me the man and dad I am today. I know I can look myself in the mirror and be comfortable with my myself and my journey.”
Scott admitted he has made mistakes in his life – some pretty big. He said he didn’t love who he was when I first knew him. But he said he tries not to linger on that stuff, he strives to learn and make changes in himself or his circumstances – he moves forward for himself and his kids.
I asked him what he admires most in people. He said he had a manager once that represented “quiet confidence”…he explained “a strength in not having to declare you’re strong, but instead, you just are.” Scott said he hoped he would embody it someday.
When I think of Scott’s story, I wonder about what some believe…can people really change? I wonder what inspires such courageous or transformational change in some. Divine intervention? Serendipity maybe? Or just sheer will, determination and choice? No matter why it happens, stories like this one remind me that everything happens for a reason and people come into your life for a reason– always.
Scott never looked the part of a hopeless romantic and certainly not a father of 5 children when I first met him. Though, through a chance meeting with Natalie, his entire life changed.
Mark Klein, the screenwriter for Serendipity (one of my all time favorite love stories), poignantly wrote a beautiful scene at the end of his movie that said it best (view link below). Whether the changes Scott made in his life or himself were purposeful or not, he was destined for change. Sometimes tough events happen in our lives – and though tragic and sad – they eventually bring us to a place we were meant to be.
Scott thank you for allowing me to share your story. I hope your children can see the quiet confidence in you that I witnessed the day we met to catch up on your life’s journey.