My mom is 86 years old, and a woman of great independence and strength as long as I have known her, which is pretty much all my life, if you can imagine...
She has been alone for the last 24 years...a few interesting men passing through her life, but none that she wanted to stay, except one.
It's very interesting to have the "guy" conversation with my mom...usually mothers and daughters talk about the daughter's guys. This time we were talking about her guy.
"He's coming for tea today, around 3," she confided, early one morning.
"Cool," I replied, smiling inside at the excitement in her voice..."Where did you meet him?"
"Well, don't laugh...he owns the grocery store here, so I meet him every time I buy groceries," she chuckled.
My mom, going for tea with the grocer...very nice. At least she'll eat well!
Now, I've never met the guy, but anyone who can make my mom sound as chipper as a sunny day in spring can't be all bad, right? We finished our conversation, I reminded her to truly enjoy herself...and we said our "goodbye, I love you's."
Later, in the week, she had tea again with the grocer...by this time, I knew he was Fred, no last name. And so it went, for the rest of the month, and then, silence...nothing about the grocer, Fred, pots of tea...nothing at all.
Do you ask your mom about it? What's the protocol for this 'mom's got a boyfriend' thing, anyway? I have no clue...this is new territory for me. Not a bad thing, just a new thing...
A few days later, she called, we chatted about the date squares she'd just made, my sweater that she was finishing for me...and I asked her about Fred, very carefully.
There was a small silence, then she said, softly, "He just married someone else from our church..." My heart broke for her...I could hear the tears in her heart, the hurt in her soul. I've felt it myself, but not at the age of 78, when love coming along seems a wistful fantasy, a lingering hope with no substance. I knew she had been longing for this relationship to comfort her, in the cold gray and often lonely silence since my stepfather passed away. Some inane platitude slipped past my lips, we struggled through the awkward moments...and went on with our conversation, never to speak of it again, with the delightful exception of one day a year later.
"So, how's everyone there?" my mom asked that day. Our weekly conversation had begun. "Y'know, we are all well, so that's a blessing," I told her. Then from out of nowhere, she asked me, "Do you remember Fred? The guy who owned the grocery store?"
"Yeah, I sort of do..." I replied, waiting for what was to come...
"He and his new wife were in a really bad car accident today, right up the highway from my house...he's ok, but his poor wife was killed instantly," she told me.
"Oh, my God! That's awful! That must be very upsetting for you," I replied.
"Upset? UPSET? For crikey's sake, no way! I'm relieved, that's what I am" she said, to my total surprise. "Why, just think, if I'd married him last year, I'd be dead now!"