Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The new girl

18 months after my mother died I came home for Christmas. 2 months prior, just before Halloween, I slipped into a major depression brought on "delayed grieving" syndrome and a fiance leaving me. The Delayed grieving crippled me and I was unable to deal with school and work and just needed some place to feel safe and to return to some usual settings. I figured Christmas with my dad might help.
On Christmas morning, my father and I sat down and had our traditional Christmas breakfast of a Sugar Plum Ring. This is a tradition my mother started and was a tradition that we never went without (even with my mother and I's numerous hospital Christmas stay overs). We gathered the night before and made this master piece and awaited the morning for the feast.
Just a few bites into the meal there was a knock at the door. "Jimmy! Jimmy! Merry Christmas! Here I brought you a gift."
My dad's new girlfriend had arrived. She insisted on my dad opening her gift, right there in front of me and as we feasted over my mother's traditional breakfast. Inside was a pair of boxers. I was shocked. And embarrassed. And angry. and a whole other slew of emotions.
I tried to laugh it off. "I thought you were a briefs kind of guy, dad."
"But wouldn't he look cuter in Boxers." Was her response.

My father, in my mind, had only ever slept with my mother. I don't know how often or for how long and I was just fine not knowing whether my dad was getting any. I think what goes on in the privacy of your own bedroom is your own business. Furthermore, I would have rather not known as I was eating my mother's Sugar Plum Ring that my father was getting some again. I found her act to be really disrespectful to me and to my mother. Each time over the next three years when she would offer advice, I always had a hard time taking it because it usually contradicted with my thought process and I usually didn't want to listen to her motherly advice after she had been so disrespectful to my mother the first time around.

On Saturday I attended a symphony. In the crowd was my dad with his new girlfriend. I was late (a fateful run in with the Utah Wheelin Jazz players) and so I had to sit in the balcony. Below me was my father and this new woman. Through the course of the first "act" I observed them cuddling and holding hands. During intermission we met. She was conservatively dressed. She talked to me as an adult. She wanted to know more about me and to share interesting things about herself. At no point did she try to give advice or to point out that her and my father were affectionately involved. In fact, as we stood there they didn't even hold hands (though they did do plenty of that during the second "act"). After the show, she went back to trying to ask me questions and try to get to know my father and I better (and get to know our relationship better). She never at any point went out of her way to embarrass me. It was nice.

In no way is my dad needing my approval for who he dates. For the most part - he lives his life and I live mine. But I must admit it was so nice to leave the symphony on Saturday with my guard down. It was a great feeling.

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