Around 11 years ago, I was visiting a friend in The Middle of Nowhere from my home in a capital city. While hanging out and eating junk food, my friend said she thought we should introduce her aunt to my father, hoping for a love match. I scoffed — admittedly, that is my first reaction to most things — but then thought about it. My parents had been divorced for almost 2 years, and while I wasn’t against the Grumpy Irishman dating, I didn’t think he was ready. However, he could always use a new friend and some socializing. Besides, who was I to decide these things? So, I agreed.
We arranged for an odd double date at an Applebee’s (slim pickings in the Middle of Nowhere), my father and I and then my friend and her aunt. We were sitting in a booth, eating and making awkward conversation, but my father’s attention is fully focused on the TVs at the bar. Was it a sporting event? A national disaster? No, it was the never-ending coverage of the Pope’s funeral. Yup, my father was distracted by a film loop of a dead guy. OK, I admit, I was watching, too.
We are not Catholic, I should state that here. We are not experts in any religion, including the one in which we were raised. However, my father and I are interested in a plethora of topics and religion is one of them. We like to discuss and dissect human nature and beliefs, naturally religion falls into this category. However, we have no idea if my friend’s aunt is Catholic…or Baptist…or a Satanist. I’m relatively sure she isn’t Amish since she was wearing pants with a zipper and arrived in a car, so there’s that.
Nearing the end of the meal, the aunt said she needed to use the restroom and started to scoot to the end of the booth’s bench, but then over-scooted and wound up falling directly onto the floor. This poor woman has just suffered through a painful food-related encounter with the Grumpy Irishman and has accidentally ended up on the floor, rolling around and trying to get up. My friend jumped up to help her, I was unable because I was closest to the wall and blocked by my father. And that man, watching the TV while the scoot-and-fall actually occurred, looks over and sees this woman floundering and MAKES NO COMMENT. He just turned back to the TV!
As his daughter, I try to justify his actions. Maybe he was trying to act like he didn’t notice in order to save her from embarrassment. Maybe he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, so he chose to be in denial. Who knows what the reasoning was, but this infuriating man did not move to help her at all. Such a gentleman.
Eventually, she managed to get up and walk to the restroom. It felt like that process took 3 hours, but it was probably under a minute. Embarrassment has a way of suspending time. When she returned, not a word was spoken about The Fall, we finished eating and said our goodbyes. I remember saying to my friend “Well, that didn’t go well.”
They actually met one another again, went to lunch and my father forgot his wallet, so his date had to pay. Such a great second act, don’t you think?
Now, fast forward 6 months. I am sitting at my job in Capital City, fielding phone calls and dealing with crises, when my father calls me. This wasn’t too unusual, he liked to check in and knew where I would be between 7 and 5. After saying hello, he said “Guess what I did today.” This was also not unusual, and the correct answer was usually “bought some new shoes” or “saw a potato that looks like Robert DeNiro.” Not this time. I gave a few guesses, but then my father says, “No, I got married.”
I was utterly speechless. They had TERRIBLE dates. I was personally a witness to one them, yet they decided to make this work. I’m ashamed to say that my first reaction was to be pissed. I wasn’t consulted. I wasn’t informed. More importantly, I wasn’t invited. I helped bring this unlikely couple together, shouldn’t I have been there to witness it? I incorrectly assumed that her daughters had been there, since they lived in the area while I was 3 hours away. But once I found out that it was surprise to both sides of the family, I felt better (although still a little mad since I am a red head and I can’t let go of things quickly).
It is nearly 11 years later and I have a wonderful Step Mother. I also gained two step sisters that have broadened my horizons. This woman came into my life when I was nearly 30 and showed me what a mother’s love is supposed to be. She never batted an eye in accepting my father’s children as her own, including grandchildren. She has actually teared up thinking about the fact that she didn’t get to hold us as babies. How adorable is that?
I could go on and on about her, but I won’t. Instead I will leave you with this: I inadvertently picked my own stepmother and in doing so I traded up in the parental universe!