New Year’s Revolution
We are past the short answer to “How were your holidays?” The brief reply had been that we were home all day for the first time in 17 years, or since our younger daughter was born. That was enough in and of itself, relaxing to have the holiday at our home, and host 8 people for dinner.
The real story goes back just a few days further. We were expecting my father-in-law to come up fromFloridafor the holiday, the first time in four years, or since my mother-in-law was alive. We were looking forward to hosting him, and maybe even creating a new tradition inNew Englandfor the family. He was even going to stay with us, something else we were eagerly anticipating.
The past few years had been difficult ones for him, grieving the loss of his second wonderful wife as well as battling life altering health struggles himself. We joke that not only is he like a cat with multiple lives, but that he is on about cat number four. My husband and his brother have spent time retrieving him from various states of the union, as well as states of health, and have been rebuffed in their suggestions to consider assisted living of any kind. My father-in-law was very clear about staying in his home, and was not yet ready for more help, despite whatever wisdom we attempted to visit upon him.
We knew that this past fall he had started to talk with a woman from an online dating site, and that he would actually get to meet her when he came up for Christmas. We were pleased for him, and intrigued by the concept of not only his adeptness at using the website, but that he was also enough interested to meet someone who happens to live in Burlington, MA, closer to us than either his home in Florida, or in the summer in Falmouth. We laughed that if it were not for her that we might have had a more difficult time convincing him to come up for the holidays.
We were not expecting the phone call a few days before Christmas when he announced that he would stay with us the night of December 23rd, when he arrived inBoston, but that he would be spending Christmas Eve with his new lady friend and her family, and that he would be bringing her to Christmas dinner with us. “Really, Dad?” my husband responded. “Are you sure you don’t want to, say, take a little stroll in the park together before tossing each other into the morass of the most intense family holiday of the year?”
I mean, we can all keep our fangs under wraps most of the time, but did he really want to take that kind of a risk SO soon in their relationship?
Once again, my father-in-law could not have been clearer. These were the plans, and he was not seeking approval, but letting us know what was happening. And that he is very excited, feels like a teenager, and is looking to have the engagement ring brought out of the security box. Teenage is right! Oh my goodness, they’re planning an arranged marriage sight unseen! He also reminded us that he has an excellent track record in terms of choosing partners, and assessing character in general. I couldn’t argue with him there.
I trust his judgment about people not only personally, but in his professional role working at the United Nations and other government posts.
Christmas was lovely, and we even learned her name before she arrived. She is vivacious, upbeat, loves to laugh and was quite direct about knowing that this all seems sudden, but that they have spent hours talking to each other and see no reason to wait on getting together.
They swept out of our house on their way to tour the area, meeting more of her family and announcing their plans over the next few days. It was all we could do to recover our composure and stop shaking our heads. We were able to catch a lunch with them just after New Year’s and before my father-in-law’s return toFlorida. They seemed a bit breathless after their barrage of visiting, but were just as clear about their determination and commitment to one another. It was inspirational to observe their engagement in life and with each other, and I bow to my father-in-law in his willingness to allow someone new into his life in such a big way. As usual, I am learning about the power of resilience and the possibilities that arise when we are able to take the risk of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and trust in love.
Here is a New Year’s revolution I can get behind.