Today is February 22nd. Exactly one year ago today my mother went into the hospital. She was having trouble breathing, and although the woman hadn’t visited a doctor since the birth of my sister 29 years ago, she figured perhaps she should get that breathing thing checked out. It felt like a long story at the time, in and out of the hospital, doctor consultations, medical leave, oxygen tanks, more doctor visits and test results. But then, exactly one month later on March 22nd, it was all over. She died. She was 60. It turns out smoking for 40 years isn’t good for you.
Fast forward a year. Life has moved on, as it always does. My dad has the same job, but now he’s a widower. My sister got her acceptance letter to grad school the day of my mom’s funeral. She’s been working part time, living at home and going to school. I’m still doing my thing, just without the daily conversations with my mom, occasional parenting advice, and some significant changes in the way we celebrate holidays.
One big thing has changed though, our dad started dating. A dinner here or there was slightly disconcerting, but mostly because I hadn’t realized how lonely he really was. Clearly it was an issue, since he signed up with an online dating service. I immediately felt bad that we hadn’t been visiting very often. But, the street goes both ways, and he hadn’t made much effort either.
Suddenly, ‘dating’ turned into a relationship with one woman. And, the relationship has progressed pretty quickly. They met one month ago. They spend all free time together. Last weekend, for Valentine’s Day the rented a hotel room in Boston. My dad works second shift, and she has a job down the street from his house. She stops over before work (7:30 am) to spend time with him until her work starts at 9:30. Which means he works until 11pm, gets up at 6am and then has to nap again before work. My sister keeps catching them making out on the couch (she hates that). This weekend the girlfriend will spend the night at their house for the first time. She will sleep in my mother’s bed. In the room with the closet still filled with my mother’s clothes. My mother’s ashes still resides in the house too, as does my very uncomfortable sister who has no idea what to do with herself this weekend.
This is all new territory for me. I had two married parents growing up. I was 33 when my mother died rather suddenly, and I’m not really sure how to handle a dating father. Does anyone have any suggestions…?