my uncle – dad’s youngest brother – is one of my favorite people. he lives in florida and i got to see him this weekend. our conversation roamed all over, but at one point on saturday afternoon we found ourselves standing in the driveway talking about my dad and his new girlfriend.
everybody loves her, which makes me so happy because i like her very much and my dad is incredibly happy. but with my uncle i can be a little more candid. i’ve been really thrown off seeing my dad in such…puppy love. he opens doors and the two of them go to concerts and the movies and kiss all the time. none of these are things that ever happened when my mom was alive. and granted they were married for a long time, but it’s difficult to watch that now and not feel angry and hurt on behalf of my mother.
he told me how, the day before the funeral when the family was over and i was running around like a lunatic refilling drinks and answering the phone, he and my father sat in the living room and my father kept saying, “i hope she knew how much i loved her. i wish i had said it more.”
at this point my uncle starts to tear up and i’m glad i have huge sunglasses on because i’m so sick of crying, sick of people seeing me cry. and he says “i think he realizes that he didn’t treasure her the way he should have. and now he’s doing things differently.”
my cousin comes over to tell my uncle that he has a phone call (we’re definitely that family that does the hot potato phone pass with out-of-town relatives) and the conversation peters out. but i’m left feeling somehow lighter, less conflicted about my father’s new behaviors.
i’m still sad for my mother. that will never go away. but i’m slightly consoled by the thought that my dad hasn’t forgotten about her; rather, she is on his mind enough that he has decided to live a little differently, love differently. while looking at my mom’s death as a “learning experience” doesn’t make it hurt any less, somehow hearing those words from my uncle eased the hurt a bit.