My mom changed her name for the first time this weekend. She had the same last name as my dad, so when they got married, she didn’t need to change. Now, at 67, she finally got her long-time wish – a new name.
I’m not sure what to say about the wedding. It was lovely, mom looked beautiful, the tulips we placed on the tables were cheerful and colourful, lots of mom’s friends were there, the music was nice, the food was good. It was all those things. But more than anything, what I want to say is… it hurt more than I expected.
It’s hard to know how to feel when you see your mom marry someone you barely know. Some people try to tell you how you should feel… “oh, you must be SO excited for your mom” or “how LUCKY your mom is to find someone again” or “it must make you feel good to see your mom so happy again.” Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps that’s the way I SHOULD feel.
Other people – well-meaning people, I suppose – see you fighting tears and think they have a right to imagine what you’re feeling… “So how do you feel today?” or “It must be a little hard to see her with another man” or “I understand what you’re going through.” Some of them have a right to ask – those who love me and know my heart, and those who are hurting too because they know this will change things for them too. Auntie Cecile, Auntie Cathy – those people have a right to ask. And they ask in the right spirit. The other people who hardly know me – well, I try to put on a brave face and say “I’m sure she’ll be happy and that’s what counts.” They don’t need to see the jagged pain that reaches back to my father’s death. They don’t have access to the dark places in my heart.
How do I feel? I feel betrayed when I see her kiss a man who’s not my father. I feel worried when I think her life will change and I will be less a part of it. I feel a little jealous when I see her hold his grandchildren on her lap. I feel sad when I think that this man is 9 years older than her and will probably not be able to keep up with her youth and vigour. I feel concerned when I see her single friends who think they’ve lost a piece of her. I feel angry that she couldn’t have spent the rest of her life with my father.
And yet, I have to try to hang on to those other, more positive things I feel. She looks happy. I like to see her happy. She doesn’t look lonely anymore. She’s got a new spring in her step. That’s all good. She’s looking forward to companionship, travel, bike rides, laughter… I hope she gets all those things and more. I hope he still has a lot of youth in him and that he gives her energy instead of taking it away. I hope he makes her laugh. I hope they’re happy. I hope she doesn’t forget what all the other people in her life mean to her.
Post Script: I don’t know why I named this blog the way I did. I shouldn’t have, but I can’t help myself. I can’t type those words without hearing my Dad singing the song – one of many he’d sing with a twang and with relish. It doesn’t make it much easier to bring Dad into this picture, but you can’t always change what’s going on in your heart.