Monday, December 14, 2009

Old love, new love

My mom was never comfortable with the topic, or the idea, or the reality, of sex. She doesn’t like to talk about it, or read about it, or see it in movies and on TV. When I was younger, I attributed her squeamishness about all matters physical to her having grown up in the fifties – everyone who grew up in the fifties was repressed, I thought. At some point, though, based on stories she told, I figured out…she’s a prude. Even in 1958, she was considered prude.

Mom was never romantically inclined, either – she’s Practical, and please note the capital P. She’s kind and loving, but as for spontaneous or whimsical (or fun) or any of the other stuff you have to be in order to be romantic – she’s none of those things. She loved my dad, and he her. They were happily married for almost 50 years. When Daddy passed away in 2006, we figured mom would live another twenty years as a sharp little old lady who stayed active in her church and spent a lot of time with her grandchildren.

People asked about her dating. My sister and I thought that was the funniest thing we’d ever heard of. Mom agreed. She said, more than once, “Why on earth would I go out on a date?? I’m 72 years old!”

You know where this is going, right?

A couple years after Daddy died, Mom’s close friend Sallie passed away. Sallie and her husband John, and my mom and dad, were friends for as long as my folks were married. They lived next door to each other when I was born. Mom ate dinner at their house the night before she went into labor with me. Sallie and Johnny graduated from the University of Texas, my dad was an Aggie. Over the years they’d watch the Longhorn-Aggie game together at Thanksgiving. More than once, we wrapped their house after an Aggie win and they wrapped ours after the Longhorns won. This is a picture of my dad and Johnny waiting for me to get out of surgery when my Tomboy Diva was born. That’s Daddy on the right in the baseball cap:

Johnny’s a sweet man, and rather shy. When Sallie passed away, Mom was worried about him. He’d spent years caring for Sallie – she had a long, slow decline – and now that he was alone in that house, his sons and their families in other cities, Mom feared he’d be lonely. So she started meeting him for lunch, and to go places, just to get him out of the house.

You still know where this is going, right?

And it happened so fast!! They went to lunch. She visited his church. They went to a museum. And then BANG – two weeks later she’s showing me a mushy valentine he gave her, and she’s telling my brother-in-law about how she got all shaky and breathless when she saw his name on her caller ID (what the hell?)

But then – THEN – she starts telling my sister and me that she doesn’t have time to babysit because she’s going somewhere with Johnnie and we’re all – hey! Who the hell are you and what did you do with our mother??

She giggled – I swear to God she actually freaking giggled – when she talked about him.

I know what you’re thinking – that if this happened to anyone else, I’d think it was wonderful.

Well, yeah – exactly my point.

I have a good friend whose widowed father is shacking up with his late wife’s best friend. It actually happens a lot – one partner is left widowed, still in good health and able to enjoy life and not used to being alone. They seek solace with an old friend, and one thing leads to another. It seems to happen most often with people who were happily married. We hear stories like that and we go “Aw….that’s so sweet!”

I just never expected it to happen to my mother.

Like many old ladies, she can’t get married or she’ll lose essential insurance benefits she has through my dad. So about a year ago, she and Johnnie were joined in a commitment ceremony blessed by an Episcopal priest. I still like to tease my deeply devout Baptist mom about shacking up, but it doesn’t bother her at all.

I’ve adjusted to the idea of my mom being in love, and living with a guy who’s not my dad. But when she mentioned “physical intimacy” once, I said – hold it right there, old lady. No way. I’m not discussing your sex life with you. She agreed – with a smirk.

My mother smirked at me.

I’m romance writer, for heaven’s sake. I actually believe in happily ever after (I mean, my parents made it there, didn’t they?) I actually believe that you’re never too old to fall in love. Or get frisky, even.

But my mother?


Rosemary Gunn said...

Go Mom!!

Kinsey, I went through this very same thing with my mom...but she was a bit younger. And - no kidding - I made myself talk to her about safe sex! I flat out told her that there was no way in hell that I was going to be taking care of her grandchildren (I had 1 small baby at the time) and my siblings!

It feels weird...but it's a good thing.

PG Forte said...

Me, I like the idea of my parents getting frisky. I figure that means there's hope for me. Great post!!

Kelly Jamieson said...

Great story Kinsey! My mom was a widow for many years and I WISHED she'd found someone to love again. Of course if she had I might have been feeling the same way you are... :-)

Meg Benjamin said...

Aw, Kinsey, that's sweet!

sherry said...

Your just lucky that your mom isn't someone who tells you everything about her sex life. My mom left my dad when me and my brothers and sisters were still in school and that led to one man after another and she doesn't mind telling her kids about her sex life. Let me tell you there's just some things you never want to know about your mom. Loved your post.

Kinsey Holley said...

Thanks, guys...Sherry - that sounds awful!

jennifer said...

Ohh are you traumatized? I think I would be lol There are just things about my parents I don't want to know. Call me a prude. I mean I know what had to happen for me to be here but I don't want to know if it was *gulp* good. ewww

Kinsey Holley said...

Jennifer - ha! For some reason, I just can't quite believe they're doing anything - isn't that childish? It's like my bro-in-law, who says his mom and sister don't have sex or go to the bathroom.

Erin Nicholas said...

Kinsey, I loved this post! I'm firmly in the camp of "aw, ain't that sweet"... when it's *your* mom! *G* My mom and I were talking about this one time and I asked if she would ever remarry if my dad "went first" (which he tells us he firmly intends to do because he won't be able to tolerate his doting daughters by himself! ha!) My mom's response to the remarriage question: "Why would I do *that* again?" They're happily married but well, it takes work to keep it working right? *G*
Great post! Erin