Sunday, April 30, 2006

Young love for the old

Dad's in love.

I've just come back from Melbourne and yesterday I met Joan, his new 'dancing partner'. Dad and Joan are about to dance their way around the world - they're going to England and Wales and Ireland and Malta and Dubai for six weeks.

Joan seemed lovely. Considerably younger than Dad, who's about to turn seventy. I suppose she could be early sixties - there certainly seems to be a great difference between sixty and seventy in the sprightliness stakes.

Dad cooked us lunch for the grand occasion of us meeting. Corned beef and a potato bake thing I think he concocted himself, and mixed diced vegies from one of those convenient fresh-frozen packets, and a trifle he made himself. 'It's got no added sugar in it,' he said proudly. 'What about the cake?' I asked. 'Yes that has sugar I tink,' he confessed. 'and what about the jelly?' I asked. 'Yes that has sugar also,' he said, and we all laughed.

I think my dad's great. I've always gotten along with him. He has a good sense of humour and he's very easygoing. It's probably his fault too - he's always been completely unambitious. I remember Mum and him having a screaming match - one of their few, I can only think of about three during my childhood - over him not wanting to go for the job of foreman. He was always happy to stay as just one of the labouring crew. As he also didn't want Mum to go to work, I can imagine it was incredibly frustrating for her to see him pass up opportunities to make life a bit easier financially.

Dad's got a bit of an allergy to money, which I think I've inherited. We both think there's something evil about it. It doesn't do to pay much attention to money, or want material things. 'They are not happy, these rich people,' is one of Dad's favourite themes for a conversation.

Back to the love story.

Lying around at Dad's was a scrap of paper. This really was lying around, I didn't snoop through any drawers or anything. This scrap of paper was on the kitchen bench where I had set up my laptop in order to check the www was still out there. The scrap was entitled, 'Song for Joan', and it went something like, 'You make me feel like a child again. I know you are not mine but I hope that we will spend lots of time together.' It was so incredibly sweet. And I had one of those flashes of my father having a life that was entirely independent of his existence as my parent.

So Joan seems nice. I wondered at one point if she was nervous about meeting me, or whether it's no longer an issue, if so many older people are separating and repartnering that adult children no longer feel compelled to defend the jilted parent by being nasty to the interloper (by the way a. Mum left Dad and b. it was about 15 years ago now)

The garden doll at the top of the page is from dad's garden. He has been collecting a very odd array of statuary - mushrooms and lions and chinese men with baskets and dogs and scarecrows - no theme.

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