My father loved bringing my mother breakfast in bed.
He would also clean the dishes after dinner – every single night, even when he cooked. When he’d come home from work he’d seek her out, “Where is my beautiful wife?”
“Upstairs Dad,” we’d sigh. When he found her he’d scoop her up into a sweet hug and tell her how much he loved her. All six of us, my siblings and I, would groan even more when they kissed in front of us, “stop it!! Gross! Mom and Dad are kissing!”
In the evenings, as we drifted off to sleep, we’d hear laughter pouring up the stairs or quiet voices as they talked and talked and talked. About the house, life, us, the future. The morning he died, after they’d been married for 30 years, I woke up my mother to tell her. “It happened Mom, he’s dead.” His cancer had surfaced six months earlier. Three brain tumors. It spread quickly. He’d been asleep for days when he slipped away.
“I know,” she said.
“He was just in my dream, he said good-bye. Why am I still here? I was supposed to go with him.” Her eyes were glazed over. Part of her had left with him.
No more surprise flowers by her bedside, no more lingering hugs and no more soul mate. That fear of ever losing someone like she did had me frozen for years. But after having Benjamin, after becoming a mother, I’ve realized my father wouldn’t want me to be filled with fear on his account. My mother doesn’t either. And she by the way, nearly 10 years after his death, is in love again herself.
We have to go on. We have to keep those we’ve lost alive by living for them, by carrying on and by telling their stories.
They met on a train in 1967 (I think).
He saw her and couldn’t move. His eyes met hers. She smiled and then darted them away. Then he walked up to the empty seat next to her and said,”Can I sit here?”
“No.” My mother answered shortly.
She was dead serious, so sick of men hitting on her. My father, undeterred, took the seat across from her instead. He asked her what she was reading. My mother told him it was none of his business. You get the idea. But, by the end of the train ride from Columbus to Chicago he had convinced her to give him a chance.
I’m giving Mr. Man a chance.
I still can’t find the words to write about him but I can tell you the ice is melting… slowly. And besides, my mother thinks he is amazing – he reminds her of my father. And, deep down, I’m a huge sucker for romance and of course, men who treat women like queens.
In my opinion, they’re the only ones worth having around.
[Photo: My mom and dad shortly after their wedding]