While my mother’s death wasn’t sudden – in fact, she outlived the odds by several years – it still was a blow to her family when she died. Not surprisingly, my dad was particularly affected. Not only had they been happily married for over 40 years, but he had patiently cared for her during her illness – schlepping her to doctor appointments, staying with her during hospital visits, providing moral support and care and love and laughter.
So it wasn’t unexpected that he was pretty lost following her passing. His kids tried to help him move on. Jen in particular (because she lived in the same town) made sure he was taking care of himself. But as the months and then a year or two went by, he still seemed lost.
And then he met Shirley.
I wish I could tell you that I was a complete grown-up and accepted this new relationship with joy and support. Nope. I was a big fat baby. My siblings would probably say they were no better, but I assure you they were. I was the worst. Shame on me.
Despite all this, Dad and Shirley married. And remained married until my dad’s death in 2010. They had a happy marriage. After some time, both his family and her family came to grips with the fact that their mommy and daddy were living their lives in a way that made them happy. Dang. I hate when people act like grown-ups. The two of them did fun things – took driving trips, went to shows in Branson, MO, took in frequent movies, dined out, picnicked, made many trips to Estes Park, entertained all of their kids.
And when he, too, became ill, Shirley cared for him graciously until he died, something for which all of Dad’s children are — and always will be — grateful.
So the end of our story is a happy one. Because we all love Shirley, and she loves us back.
I am writing about Shirley because Bec and I spent a good portion of yesterday with her. She made us breakfast in her lovely little apartment in Loveland, an apartment which is cheerfully decorated with photos of her kids and grandkids and her great-grandkids. We reminisced, caught up with each other, looked at Bec’s China pictures, and ate and drank coffee. Two or three times, someone would walk into her apartment through the open door that leads to her patio telling her, Shirley, I have been trying to call you, but your telephone won’t ring. These interruptions lead me to two conclusions: 1. Her phone service must not have been working; and 2. She is clearly the most popular person at Mirasol Senior Living! Miss Congeniality, no doubt.
As we drove home, Bec and I talked about how though sometimes we don’t realize it, God really does put the people you need into your life if you just open your eyes to it…..
By the way, I had to take this picture for Dad’s grandkids’ pleasure. Shirley has kept their Poppo’s license plate…..