Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Finding Love at 78

When Mom died two and a half years ago, Dad was physically exhausted from "a thousand sleepless nights," and emotionally spent after four years of faithful and dedicated care-taking. Mom was demanding throughout her life, and became even more so when she had cancer. I think her high maintenance demeanor stemmed from fear, and far be it for me to criticize, having never gone through what she did. But it was very difficult for Dad and we all worried that he would die from exhaustion before she died of cancer.

Once Mom died, Dad quickly began his "sixth life." He had a very happy childhood (life #1) until being a "mischling," a half-Jew, in Germany became his identity in his early teen years. Having lost both parents and escaped a concentration camp by the time he was 17, he never had an adolescence (life #2). After the war, once he could breathe and was ready for a more carefree young adulthood, he met my Mom and soon she was pregnant. Being a "hochanstaendiger Mensch" (an upstanding citizen, a moral human being), he married Mom. So much for a carefree young adulthood (a very short life #3). He and Mom immigrated to America, where he began his career (life #4) as an engineer -- having paid his tuition as a plumber, helping to re-build the University of Munich after the war. They settled in Berkeley in the 50's and raised their four kids in the most alive and stimulating social and political environment one could wish for -- Berkeley in the 60's, where Mom taught at Cal. Only in the 80's, when they retired and moved to Ashland, Oregon (life #5) did life calm down for them. They had 24 relatively happy years there before Mom died.

And Dad still hadn't had an adolescence. He went headlong into the dating scene fairly quickly after of Mom's death --something that bothered me then, but which I've come to understand since. Mom didn't die overnight; it took four long years -- a thousand nights, as Dad put it -- so somewhere inside, Dad had to prepare for his "next life" during that time. Of course, like any teenager, he had to "get through" a few relationships (yes, even a story) before he'd find the right person, who I had stipulated all along would be "someone you've known forever... maybe even a friend of Moms."And that's exactly who Lou is: a dear friend of Mom's, who lost her husband the same year we lost Mom. The funny (no really, it is funny!) thing is that Mom and Kurt, Lou's husband, didn't get along at all! They bickered constantly, disagreed about everything, and generally had an adversarial relationship. But both Mom and Dad both adored Lou -- and she adored both of them.About a year and a half after Mom died and after Dad had gone through some other dating experiences and had resigned himself to living alone forever, he took Lou to a concert (as just a friend) and apparently said to her that he still thinks of her as Mom's friend and Kurt's wife... which Lou was apparently disappointed to hear, because she had been hoping...

And now they ARE like a couple of teenagers -- and I love it! And I am coming to love Lou, too. It's an easy love. I know what Dad means by "it feels just right..." I love and miss Mom, but I am so happy that Dad found love -- it seems that he's waited a long time for this.

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Pam said...

What a beautiful love story! Your dad sure sounds like a wonderful man, father and partner. He's had quite a life!

Cheers to Finding Love at 78!

Dixie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

I love this story, but then again I'm a sucker for a good story like this. It's got it all - history, tragedy, love, loss, new love...your dad seems to have experienced it all!

I hope your dad has many more happy years ahead of him.

Heidi on Vashon said...

OMG this makes me want to cry big crocodile tears! That is such a nice story. Encuoraging that one can find love where they least expect it, right in front of them.

AA said...

That's a great story. By the way, she is very attractive, and they look great together.

I'm glad you have your candle for this Christmas too.

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