I went out for a belated birthday lunch with my BFF Amy yesterday. We went to the Neenah location of my dear former employer, Solea, and that means there were Margaritas. Big wonderful margaritas. I do love my day drinking. But that is just a side thing, setting the scene, if you will.
I have spoken often of losing my folks at a young age. It sucked, but it is a part of my story, and it shaped a lot of how I see things. Amy lost her mom this year, and her situation was unique in that her mom made a medical decision, and she had the opportunity to die at home, surrounded by her life loves, her family. We have talked a few times about how beautiful that was for them, and it was an experience not a lot of people get. Now, since her passing, Amy had gotten a lot of the experiences people go through- family crap. It is just a part of it, when you have a group, you have different dynamics and personalities and everyone goes through things differently. It isn’t my place to go through some of the things she is dealing with, but I have been doing what I can to listen to her when she needs to get through some of it. She did it all for me years ago, and I have never forgotten what those moments in life have meant to me. BFFs, you know? There’s a reason, and her big heart is the best reason ever.
So, through some conversations, and I will just abbreviate this- Her dad has been dating. That’s really his choice, and it wasn’t a surprise, and you see that often with older people that lose their spouse. I think it’s got more to do with companionship than anything, but that’s an adjustment for the family. Amy and I talked about that, and the things, and she said maybe some of the shine was coming off the edges in that new relationship. That “new car smell” was starting to wear off. It gave an opportunity for me to tell a story about the days when my Dad was first married to my stepmom, Darlene. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t shared this one with her before.
Adult dating is different that dating as a teenager, or even a young adult in their 20s. When you are a “grown up” people come with some baggage and some habits. That’s part of life, and the experiences that come with opening your heart to another person. Dad and Dar had baggage, plenty of it, from their marriages and kids. I truly believe they both hit the jackpot when they found each other, because they really had they love thing. They adored each other, and anyone around them could see it.
When the events happened that had us go live with Dad and Dar back in 1983, they were living in a small house, and we all jammed into that for a short time while they looked for a bigger house. Thankfully it was summertime, so we could be outside a lot. Dar loved hanging laundry on the line, and it saved a lot of hassle on the dryer, as there was a ton of laundry going on at the time. They had been married a couple of years at this time, maybe a smidgeon past that “Honeymoon” phase. I was outside with Dar, while she was hanging the laundry on the line. As she was hanging some of Dad’s boxer brief type things he wore, she kind of muttered something about, um, shit stains on his underwear. I was about 13, so old enough to get what she was talking about, but I didn’t have a lot of laundry experience. She was ticked because those stains didn’t come out very well. I now get why people buy colored underwear.
Here’s the life lesson I got that day: The eyes of love see things differently. She was positive that when they first got together, living together with her doing the laundry, that he didn’t have skid marks on his shorts. Her loving eyes saw right past those spots and everything was birds singing, daisies and hearts and flowers. All is right with the world and everyone’s underwear is spotless!! Then, life crashed in with 7 kids and 2 adults and all of their skid marked panties piling up in the hamper in a 2 bedroom house. New car smell? Gone. Ed’s underwear was no longer lily white, and for better or worse laundry stains were a reality.
I am certainly not trying to disparage the bathroom habits or hygiene of my dear old departed dad. He was a prince of a person, but he was human. The story kind of stayed with me for so many years because it really is a good dose of reality. Love is patient, love is kind, but love is also recognizing that skid marks happen. Gaze into each other’s eyes with love, but keep the presoak treatments ready. Sooner or later that spark gives way to a fire that has embers that burn steady, and being comfortable enough to put that underwear is the hamper is really a big part of what love, real love, is supposed to be. Be real with your partner, they may hate your Hanes, but they love your soul.