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