My mom and dad were happily married just a couple of years shy of 50, cut short only by my mother’s death in 1995. Her death knocked Dad for a loop, even though it was not unexpected. He simply wasn’t cut out to live by himself.
A couple of years after Mom died, Dad met Shirley. She was the receptionist at his eye doctor’s office. They struck up a relationship. If he had set out to find someone who was the polar opposite of my mom, he couldn’t have been more successful. My mom was somewhat of an introvert and it took a while for her to make friends. She was kind of quiet until she was comfortable with you. Her taste in clothes and home decorations were subtle.
On the other hand, Shirley has never met a stranger. She lives life to its fullest. She laughs easily and heartily. She wears bright colors and jewelry that makes a statement. She will tell you what she’s thinking.
Their relationship took our family by storm. A storm, I’m afraid, for which we were quite unprepared. And speaking only for myself, a storm that I didn’t handle very well. What up, Dad? I want my mommy.
As the years went by, everything settled down. We all witnessed Shirley’s kind and loving nature. She cared lovingly for my Dad even as he got more and more ill. I never heard her complain, and she made him laugh until the end.
It struck me somewhere along the line that up in heaven, my mother said, “Hmmm. While I might not have done it that way, you are making him happy and I’m grateful that he is being so well cared for.”
This dynamic woman turned 80 last week, and having her in my life makes me smile. Happy birthday Shirley!