I Get It, Mom

Today my mom would have turned 95, but we lost her five years-and-some ago.

She and Dad would have been married 50 years in 1995, had he not suddenly passed at the age of 66 a couple of years before that golden anniversary. My older sister had already begun thinking about an event for them while he was still alive, and she hosted it anyway, and it was a wonderful tribute to their marriage.

Dorothy L. Brenton

I think we both asked her from time to time in the years that followed if she would date again.

She didn’t express any interest in it. In fact, I remember her telling us that a couple of older gents had asked, and she had politely declined.

I think, as much as anything, my sisters and I wanted to let her know that we’d be fine with it if she did. We knew how deeply she and Dad loved each other, and there would be no replacing him, and no one ever again like him. But we told her that we would love to see her happy in another relationship.

We didn’t want what had happened with a cousin of ours and his dad, when his mom had passed away — and our uncle soon married again; married a gal so much like our aunt that she even had the same first name. It caused a rift between father and son, and they didn’t speak for years.

I understand that you can love someone different from the one you’ve lost, and love them differently, and still love them as much. I can grasp that it’s not an insult to the lost spouse to seek another, as much as it is a compliment that marriage was so good with that spouse that a relationship like that was worth seeking again. And could have the potential to be just as wonderful, or — in some ways you can’t anticipate — even better!

But here I am, now … looking this year at turning the age my dad was when his cardiac episode took him home. Almost eight years out from losing Angi.

And I’ve sought, and tried, and failed.

For a lot of reasons, I’m sure. It’s a different century, and I don’t know how to date or even ask for a date in the 21st Century; how to strike up a conversation, even; or where to go to meet someone.

I even resolved at the end of 2019 to give it one more year, then give it up. So of course, the year I’d pick would be pandemic year 2020.

In spite of it, I had three dates. (Four, if you count taking out a couple of former co-workers for Thai lunch and reminiscing together, both of whom already have sweet fellas!) They were latte-and-a-long-walk dates, and they went pretty well. Things didn’t go well after the first one with the neighbor I asked off-the-cuff and without premeditation, but the other two with a very sweet lady just a couple of years my junior were wonderful.

It just felt like there wasn’t anything special there, between us, for either of us.

And I guess I’ve started to realize why Mom didn’t pursue the dating game.

It’s just kind of sad when you hit it off with someone, but that magic just isn’t there like it was with your spouse. It’d be even more sad to pretend it or try to make it happen. It’s there, or it’s not. And downright tragic to get into a relationship hoping that it would develop, or having it develop for one of the two of you, but not the other. Or maybe worse, for neither of you.

It’s not a matter of expecting your other to be just like your spouse, or even just a little like your spouse, or to live up to any kind of expectation. It’s just that the indefinable “something” that has to be there to make it work … well, just isn’t there.

So I’ve made the decision. I’m retiring from the dating-and-romance thing. The pandemic is not going away soon. The pressure of the years on me is not going to let up in a minute. I’m not exactly a bargain package to the market at large. And I’m just not sure the full value is there for me anymore, either.

I know that sounds selfish, and it probably is, but that’s the way things are.

So, I’m sorry, Mom, if I pressured you by asking or encouraging when I was a lot younger, and deeply in love, and couldn’t possibly understand the reasons why you might not ever feel the same in a relationship the way you felt with Dad.

I get it now.

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