Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the importance of companionship

Did I ever mention that Charlie's dad, Alex, is married to Kathleen ... and that Kathleen was Charlie's mom - Jeanne's - home health care nurse?

Alex and Kathleen married a little less than a year after Charlie's mom passed away. They celebrated their 15-year wedding anniversary this past March, a few days before Alex turned 80 on Saint Patrick's Day.

After spending a week with my father, the children got to spend the day yesterday, with Charlie's father. Even though Charlie's dad is three years older than my dad - the difference between the two men is astounding. I don't think Charlie's father has aged a day since I first met him seventeen years ago.

Part of the reason I think that Charlie's dad looks and feels so great is because he has Kathleen in his life. She is absolutely wonderful to him. She cares for him. She encourages him to play golf several times a week. She makes sure that he visits with the doctor - takes his medication - eats square meals - and drinks a sufficient amount of water every day. They are involved in a Buddhist Temple together. She is his companion and she is devoted to him. As a family, we are extremely thankful that Alex has such an adoring wife.

Similarly, I am extremely thankful that my mother and Jim have each other. Even though Jim is unable to do many of the things that he once was - he is a good friend for mom. They play Bridge together, do the crossword everyday, and at the moment - they are vacationing at one of the islands off the South Carolina coast.

If someone is divorced or widowed, once their kids grow up - and move out (possibly far away) - and they retire from their career, some people are not left with much. Maybe they are involved in church - or have friends that they see frequently - but it isn't the same as having someone in your home that you can talk with. Someone that you can eat meals with - discuss the news with - go to sleep with and wake up next to - everyday. Someone that is there with you, and genuinely cares about you.

After the situation with Gail, it's easy to draw conclusions about what a person's intentions are when they enter in to a relationship - or subsequent marriage - with someone who has led a full life and is financially secure. Even though I've seen the damage that has been done by someone whose intentions are less than honorable ... I believe that companionship is extremely important. Particularly as someone grows older, there are studies that show people who get married are more likely to live longer.

My father has recently started seeing someone. Her name is Mary, just like my mother. Mary was a customer in my dad's store years ago. She is two years older than dad - but from what I understand, she's a firecracker. She brings meals to my dad at his house - they go to see a movie once a week - and they sit and discuss current events. While they were visiting, my sister told me that Mary had spent the night at my dad's house, recently. Different rooms - so there was nothing inappropriate going on, but still, she is concerned that he might be getting involved with someone too soon.

But you know what I think?

Wa-hoo!! Go Dad!!

I know that having someone in my father's life can make the difference between happiness and sorrow. I also know that there is an excellent chance that if he has someone to focus on in the present, he will be more willing and able to let go of the past.

My father says that he doubts he'll ever get married again. But the fact that he has found someone to sit and hold hands with, is a good thing. I really believe that this companionship will add time to his life. And even if it doesn't, it will make the days that he has that much more enjoyable.

Who knows?

Maybe there's still a chance I could get the baby brother or sister I've always wanted.


  1. that last line was awesome.

    I wish my mother would find someone. I do worry about her so.

  2. I think Wa-hoo too! And good for you for supporting him.

  3. Good for your dad! According to Jackie Kennedy-Onassis "The first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship." So hopefully your dad found his companion. By the way, I tagged you for a meme.

  4. Man, I'm really identifying with these last two posts of yours. We lost my dad three years ago, and my mom has struggled with being alone. I want so much for her to find someone or something that will fill her up.

    Unfortunately, the thing she turned to was alcohol, but after a recent crisis, she's finally dealing with life without dad. I want for her what your dad seems to be finding. Someone to spend her days with and not feel so alone.

  5. This one really hits home for me. I have been single for 9 nine years. As my children get a little older, I wonder what will happen to me when they are gone. Much of life is centered around them and I am afraid that I will be lonely when they are gone off to college. I agree that having close friends and family is not, but it is not the same. Sometimes I miss the feeling of looking forward to going home and having someone to have adult conversation with. I love my girls and they bring so much joy to my life, but the truth is that they won't live with me forever.

  6. K that last line was just nasty....can't they just eat jo-jo and budweiser together? I hear you whoo hoo dad!

  7. Never give up on siblings. Seriously. My older brother was born from a teen pregnancy. Then there was a long infertility intermission. I was a surprise didn't-think-THAT-could-happen baby 11 years later. My even bigger surprise sister came 3 years later, so we were already 14 years start to finish.

    Then there was a divorce and remarriage and pregnancy and my little brother was born when I was 21. That means that we span 32 years between 4 of us.

    My little brother was in the NICU for a week after he was born because he had a brain bleed. We had them so confused because they had no policy for adult siblings. They didn't know if he would live so they wanted us to be able to see him, but the only people supposed to be allowed in were parents and grandparents. Ultimately they gave us grandparent tags and scratched out grandparent.

    It's a bit odd.

  8. Good for your Dad! I couldn't agree more. Whatever brings him happiness. And that's awesome about Charlie's father being in such great shape and so well loved and cared for. Let's hope we are all doing that well at 80.

  9. My dad remarried after my parents divorced; but my mom didn't. The difference in their attitudes and the way they face life is astounding. Dad was so happy and content; and so courageous and dignified up until the moment he died. Mom is bitter and angry all the time. But she might be that way even if she was married. I'm convinced my dad got up and lived life every day with cancer because of his wife.
    I'm really happy for your dad. And normally I wouldn't approve of such things, but even if there weren't separate bedrooms, I'd say go for it, Dad!!

  10. Maybe there's still a chance I could get the baby brother or sister I've always wanted.


  11. What___I did not know you wanted another sister or brother? Why did you not tell me this before? I will talk to Jim.