My parents were married for fifty-four years until my mother’s death in 2013. It was a strong partnership and a loving marriage. I’m told that people who have good marriages are more likely to marry again as they’ve had such a positive experience with the institution.
So it’s not surprising that my father has a lady friend, and a very nice one at that. We recently had the pleasure of making her acquaintance. She too was married for a long time and was widowed around the same time as my father. I am pleased that my father has a companion, is not lonely, and continues to have an active, full life.
Intellectually, I am all in. Emotionally, however, it took me a little longer to get there.
A couple of months ago I was with friends who inquired after my father. They wondered if I had seen a picture of his lady friend and were surprised when I said I hadn’t, nor did I particularly want to. “Why not?” they wondered.
“If I see a picture, that means three things,” I answered.
a) this person actually exists
b) my mother is dead, and
c) my father has a girlfriend
“So, no, I don’t really need to see a picture. I’m good.” My logic was sound and my denial fully intact. What was the harm in believing my parents were away on vacation?
Lo and behold, what happened a few days later? My father sent my siblings and I a picture of his friend. Funny how the universe works. God must have been gently nudging my emotions to catch up with my intellect, which of course they did. I’m fifty-one years old, not ten. While it’s weird to see my father with someone other than my mother, it’s good-weird. My sister called me after receiving the picture via email too.
“Did you see the picture?” she asked.
“Yeah, I saw it,” I said.
We agreed that this woman looked like a normal, nice person. My sister told me she got up from the computer, walked into her kitchen, and made a beeline to the counter where a plate of cookies sat that she had specifically not been eating all day. You know where this is going…she proceeded to eat the whole plate.
Emotional Eating 101 – your mom dies and your dad moves on with his life. How could cookies not make you feel a little better?
I have been hearing many stories from other people who have lost a parent and had similar experiences with a parent in a new relationship. One woman told me, “I’ll make you feel better – my father married my mother-in-law.” Wow, she wins the gold medal in the unusual second marriage category. Most everyone tells me how glad they are that their surviving parent has someone to share their life with. Those whose parents were never in another relationship lament that fact. I am thankful for my dad’s run of the mill widow-meets-widower story.
I am no longer in denial. I realize my father isn’t trying to find me another mom; he has simply found a companion for himself. Hard to believe, but it’s actually not about me. It’s a good life lesson – one that goes down easier with a big plate of cookies.
That’s my girl. I love you! Dad
Thank you for this beautiful, sweet, sad story told with humor and grace. You and your sister are a lot alike and so lovable. Time for a cookie. -Sharie Fields
I can relate. My dad began dating and then became engaged. I was asked by a relative how I felt about this and my response was, “Truthfully? I wish my mom was still alive!”
The rest of the story is that my dad’s second wife and I became really good friends. Never referred to her as my step-mother.
Keep up the great work, honey. Sande
Beautiful, real, comforting…you are awesome.
What you said it true. My mother, who remarried two years after my father died (at age 54), always said that someone who had had a good marriage is most likely to remarry because it was such a satisfying, happy experience. She was a wise woman and so are you. We are happy for your father too.
Love this. Similar experience. I could never say it as well.
Susan, I am so proud of you. How would it have been if you were told your father was going to marry a missionary from the Phillipines? less than a year after your mother’s death? and you were 18?
I have loved being a part of your life through your writing. Love you,