Building a Family – Part Two

As chronicled in his new memoir Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort Meisner recalls his life in TV News and Rock & Roll. But a person cannot be defined by his or her job alone. Each of us is more complex than that.

In last week’s blog post, we highlighted the deaths of Mort’s parents, the birth of his son Mark, and the contentious court battle that enabled him to finally adopt his beautiful daughter, Nicole.

Mort’s experience as a father didn’t start with Nicole and Mark, though. It began with his son Jason.

The Harrowing Days of Cocaine Use

While writing his memoir, Mort struggled with whether he should include his “cocaine years.” Eventually, he succumbed to the idea. After all, it certainly played a pivotal role in his life.

Three years into working at WXYZ in Detroit, Mort wanted to see a Bruce Springsteen show in Chicago. Through a series of events related to this show, he would end up meeting the woman who would become his second wife.

She was a working for a rock promoter and they were regulars at concerts.

Then Mort discovered cocaine. It was like candy. It made him feel happy, upbeat, and omnipotent. It wasn’t long before any time and any place was a good time or place to do it. Plus, it never impacted Mort’s ability to get to work.

Sometime after that, Mort’s girlfriend became pregnant.

Building a Family… Sorta

Pregnancy did not inspire Mort to stop using cocaine.

Of course, he didn’t realize that the cocaine was helping him mask the pain of his childhood. Even so, he moved to Chicago in 1982 to marry his girlfriend and his son Jason was born in 1983.

After Jason was born, Mort was still using heavily. When his wife threatened to leave him, he didn’t believe her:

Things got worse from there. And when I missed Jasons first birthday party because of a breaking news story – which now is inconceivable to me – we had a huge fight. When I came home from work the next day, she had cleared out everything from the house. EVERYTHING. I thought wed been robbed. But she had taken Jason and moved in with her parents. She filed for divorce in 1983. It was clear though that our happy little home was never going to be of the white picket fence variety.

After that, Mort was only allowed to see Jason one day at a time and he couldn’t keep him overnight. It was one of the biggest heartbreaks of Mort’s life.

He didn’t get to spend enough time with him during his formative years. Even as Jason got older, Mort still only saw him every other month. It was never enough.

Eventually, Mort would establish a relationship with Jason. By the time he moved to St. Louis, he made sure that at least once per month, he’d fly to Chicago to see Jason, or have Jason flown to St. Louis to see him.

Jason would also later be a long-distant half-brother to Mort’s daughter, Nicole, and other son, Mark.

Being the Father He’d Always Wanted

The cycle of abusive parenting stopped with Mort. When he and Leslie decided to build a family, he was determined to be a good father.

After Nicole’s birth in 1992 and Mark’s in 1993, he found himself suddenly trying to reconcile the inordinant amount of time he spent at work with his desire to be with his kids. So when he was let go from WJBK in 1997, it was actually a mixed blessing:

I loved being a father. I now had time to coach Marks baseball team which only further strengthened the bond I already had with my son. I would throw him batting practice 46 weeks per year. I watched him blossom into a great player and he eventually was able to realize his dream of playing Division One Baseball. Hes now a Major League agent.

Meanwhile, Nicole was proving to be a gifted runner. Although I was not able to coach her in her sport, I was able to travel to see her run at meets throughout the country and even the world. She was one of the best sprinters ever at University of Detroit Mercy and broke records on both the national and international levels when she competed.

And Jason? For Mort’s part, he says if he could do it again, he’d have found a way to be there for him more often.

Whatever the case, Jason is now an incredibly successful business man managing restaurants in Maryland. And Mort is finally able to see him with the regularity he longed for those many years ago.

Better late than never.

Get a Glimpse into the Complex Life of Mort Meisner

Whether you’re a friend of Mort’s, an acquaintance, or just hearing his name for the first time, Enough to Be Dangerous will pull you in, befriend you, and keep you interested.

So order your copy today by clicking here.

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