When Dad does dating

So after my mom died (Grief is a real thing) and Dad moved to the retirement village it was a case of so what now? In short, my father is a people person, he must be around people and be interacting with people all day every day.

The retirement village was supposed to tick all those boxes and provide him with hours of entertainment but nobody reckoned on the crippling depression that grabbed hold of him and hung on tight like a blood sucking leach in a dank swamp. He socialised, with some subtle prodding, which later progressed to a metaphorical forklift to get him out of his chair and out the front door but he did socialise. The yawning chasm though was at night, when everybody battened down their hatches and went about their own business and he still wanted to have a person to talk to and share a meal with etc etc.

I’ll tell you one thing for free, when your parental becomes the aimless one and you take on the role of “advice giver” it is a rough and rocky path. Beyond frustrating because what makes sense and is reasonable to you will most times be a foreign language in your parentals life. Anyway after many months and many phone calls and many “Dad you need to put yourself out there, life isn’t going to come to you”, he did just that. He started “dating” (the word seems dodgy given their age group but you know, made a friend, acquired a partner – whatever) a lady at the village who had lost her husband about three
months after my mom died. Was it awkward, oh yes, massively so. It all looked so wrong, which is quite ridiculous given the circumstances, but to see him with another woman just freaked me out – and yes I know that is despite me being the one telling him to get out in the world.

Those first few months were quite something and I’ve honestly not been that uncomfortable for some time. Lots of time talking to my mom and pondering and musing and reasoning and trying to come up with a strategy so that I could move forward with a relationship that was clearly going to form part of my life fabric (and it has, 3 years now). Very deliberately I reshaped how I was going to do things, what I was prepared to do and what I was prepared to “put up with” for lack of a better way to put it. I was, in all honesty, initially resentful of how different he was with H as far the little things go – buying flowers, helping with grocery shopping which had not been part of his relationship with my mom until a good friend pointed out (useful to have good friends) that perhaps he had realised what he hadn’t contributed the first time around and didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Fair point and food for thought but it wasn’t easy at the beginning.

Did I mention I have a brother, well yes he lives in a different province and a new woman in my fathers life proved a bitter pill to swallow. Round 999 of talking and explaining and reasoning that she was a really nice person and good for my father and took some of the stress off me and there is an uneasyish truce in place. My father of course thinks that he’s happy so all the family should be happy and is totally oblivious to any undercurrents – this is not a new thing, the subtleties of living have passed him by for as long as I can remember. A close knit family is a blessing without question but comes with its own
matched set of baggage. My husband, who comes from a family with a completely different dynamic and has a father who is cold and remote (the complete antithesis of mine) has I think been bewildered on many an occasion by all our stuff but has proved dogged in his support of whatever decision I’ve made.

And my father and H? All good from what I can see, three years in and contentment reigns supreme – long may it last, are you listening universe thanks.

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A sensory symphony

Sound,taste,sight and smell are, for me, a constant reminder of times gone past. Memories are instantly triggered – some good, some bad but all with their accompanying emotional ties.

My DH and I have been together for more than two decades but I can remember our first “date” like it was yesterday. There is an annual House & Garden show in our area previewing all that is new and innovative on the domestic front and that’s where we went – unusual I suppose, but every time I see those billboards go up I remember the butterflies in my stomach & the immense fun that we had. I had a flat in the city when we met and he used to write me little notes and slip them under my door if he was passing by – I still have them in my purse,the paper is flimsy after all this time and the writing is faded but they still make me smile.

Vanilla has always been my favorite fragrance, whether in candles, body products or the utterly delectable room sprays which give you an instant lift with just one spritz. I think my vanilla love affair started when I was a little girl making fudge with my mum. Back in the day we used to make it the old fashioned way, hours and hours of stirring on the stove top while the vanilla scent permeated the house. The rhythm of the process was quite enchanting and we would laugh and share stories and end up with the best sugary treats. My mum also taught me about banana on toast. You may laugh, but toast up a piece of nutty wholewheat and cover it with sweet fruity banana slices and you will know deliciousness on your plate.

My dad would probably want to claim ownership for my love of music. He comes from a musical family and when they were young and living in a small railway town out in the bundus you made your own entertainment. Saturday night was an eclectic mish mash of music (provided by my dad & his siblings), a barn dance of sorts with the rest of the district and a mountain of food courtesy off the moms. The radio was always on at home when I was young & it used to be housed in a really ugly box contraption along with the record player. To be allowed to go through my parents record collection & put something on the turntable was quite the thing and I suspect this was where I learnt to sing along to the Beatles, Elvis and Trini Lopez. I have zero music skills but a lifetime of musical memories.

“The fragrance of white tea is the feeling of existing in the mists that float over waters; the scent of peony is the scent of the absence of negativity: a lack of confusion, doubt, and darkness; to smell a rose is to teach your soul to skip; a nut and a wood together is a walk over fallen Autumn leaves; the touch of jasmine is a night’s dream under the nomad’s moon.” – C. JoyBell C.

The rules of friendship

Are you your genuine self with your friends? Do you show every personal trait and preference in all their stark honesty or do you tend to wind it down a little and go with the flow?

The reason I pose the question relates to my best friend (do you get to have a best friend in your 40’s or is that more a juvenile thing – ok so very close friend) – she’s warm, caring, generous and a wonderful mom. We’ve known each other eight years and basically hit it off from day one. We have our differences (which is fun) and tend to thrash out anything that grinds, especially music related as her taste is dire 😉

There is one topic though that I stay away from, same sex couples. She is surprisingly biased which never ceases to amaze me for all the wrong reasons. Is there a single word that respectfully encompasses same sex couples? I’m stumped so for now will abbreviate it to s.s.c. Both my husband and I have s.s.c. friends and yet I find myself avoiding the topic when she and I chat and we do chat, a lot. Most times I just let the niggle go but some days I think should I tell her how I feel and to stop being such a blinkered bat and that (in my opinion) sexual orientation doesn’t influence the caliber of the person? Or should I weigh up her many good facets and just skip the “controversial” stuff?

My head tells me one thing and my heart tells me something else. It’s a head kind of day so I’m taking the cop out route, walking the more travelled path and avoiding the debate. I’ll deal with the drama on another day.

A scrap of paper

Every so now and again I change out my work bag. I have two that take it in turns, one a chocolate brown leather and the other a Vuitton look alike. They’re both fairly spacious and despite my best efforts the odd scrap of paper does occasionally take up residence in a dark recess.

Yesterdays ragged remnant, scribbled on the back of what appears to have been a grocery list, delivered this ……

Do you think, he said, you might want to love me? Well it was more of a rumble exactly, his voice deep and warm. She reached out and took his hand, pressing a soft kiss on his knuckles. Meaty hands he called them but their strength gave her comfort. The white cuff of his uniform was in stark contrast to his golden hand coloured by hours spent outdoors. She had fought her feelings from that first day when he met her at the country fair. She didn’t have time for relationships and men. She was going to be a politician on Capitol Hill. He’d put his arm around her shoulders and grinned, his green eyes sparkling with knowing. You can be the next president he said, but we are going to be together. A deep sigh brought her hurting back to the present and she slid off the bench, dropping to her knees in front of him. Jessie, she said and he lifted his head,

It was (I think) going to be a short story romance of a headstrong, rebellious girl and her long-time love interspersed with a dose of conflict and separation. A mosaic of snippets of other lives – someday there may even be an ending.

“There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.” Anais Nin

A little cottage by the lake

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The photograph was taken in the KwaZulu midlands last year, the story is just that – a story.

The creak of her chair woke her up. She started, caught in the threads of a wonderful dream. A dream where Jimmy was still here, where she would step out on the porch and see him tying up at the jetty and come striding through the wildflowers, home to her.

The sadness gripped her heart, now all she had was his chair. It matched hers exactly, he had thought she was a silly goose when she insisted on a pair but now it made her smile. She could see the sag in the strapping and the shiny patina on the arms, the only visible signs of the passage of time and a lifetime of being together.

Not always happy times she thought as she struggled to her feet, the war and the depression had taken their toll but they’d stuck together through all of it. Jimmy would have liked today, the water was quiet and the mist rolling slowly down the hills like someone was shaking out a blanket. What did he used to call it, like a painting by van Gogh or something like that. He was a dreamer, was her Jimmy. She shivered, suddenly overtaken by a cold gloom and wrapped her shawl around her thin shoulders. The sky was darkening and over the way she could see the cows turning for home.

Time to go inside, she thought, tomorrow she would be back tomorrow.

Serenity – a theme

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What do you do on the second to last day of the year? It’s an absolute scorcher at home and the best place is inside (well truthfully the best place would be in a swimming pool but failing that) and in an attempt to refine my muti-tasking abilities I find myself weeding photographs.

Today’s offering was taken in August 2011 at Mount Champagne in the Drakensberg (don’t laugh, I haven’t done this for a while) and was one of those passing, offhand snaps – just because.

I like it, nothing special mind you but it’s calm and peaceful and reminds me of good times in a gorgeous part of the country.

Five Days – Day 5

Time spent in idle repose (read feet up on a sun drenched verandah) staring at the mountains and accompanied by an armful of trashy novels leads to flights of fancy and whimsical fluff.

I meant to pen a punchy romantical interlude full of moonlight and roses, beating hearts and butterflies yet my internal engine is in idle mode and has led to a vacuum of inspiration. Perhaps it’s because that first flush of romance is a thing of the past? The emotional roller coaster that is a new relationship has evolved into a comfortable partnership between two like minded people who disagree about certain things but agree about so much more.

Some might call comfortable settling for second best, I say to each his own – comfortable is my first prize!