When I first heard that my father Dale was dating someone 50 years younger, I started talking to friends and acquaintances about the situation. I was putting out feelers for how other people saw it, because I was having a whole range of different, confusing thoughts about the whole thing.
I first got a big “Wow” in response.
Then, usually, if they were female, they’d be quite put off. They’d ask how I was dealing with it. How was the girlfriend? Does he love her? How did they meet?
And, if they were male, far too high of a percentage would say, “Good for him.”
I was surprised at the men who reacted this way. I respected them. I felt they were all professionals with a good moral compass. Why the heck did they feel that way? Were they oblivious to all the problems this relationship could have?
How would they feel if their own daughter were dating someone 50 years older?
Why do some men find appreciation for men who can’t date in their own age bracket? Is it because they are quietly hoping for the same thing for themselves?
If men are subconsciously looking for a trophy wife, where does that leave my ideas of true love?
My whole idea of relationships, commitment, love and respect were directly colliding with men feeling that they deserve a ‘hot, young thang.’
I wondered if a relationship was an aligning of two people with similar goals and needs, or was it built on a deep love connection that survived no matter the obstacles.
(And why can’t it be both?)
Was I a victim of watching too many romantic movies?
I wanted to believe that there is true love and a soul mate for everyone. But, at the time, I was single, so I wasn’t so sure that I realistically had a base for any sort of overly romantic thoughts. And after the end of one in a string of too many stupid relationships, I was considering the fact that I may never have a partner and would end up living alone in an apartment with a dozen cats. And I don’t even like cats.
And, if men really wanted women who were young and beautiful, my odds of finding a mate were decreasing every day.
So my romantic side had to consider that my father and his girlfriend, Girlie, could maybe really be in love; that, maybe, my father and his girlfriend could be happy despite the odds.
As a child I watched Kermit love Miss Piggy and that quirky couple may have been my benchmark of true love conquering all. But I’ve forgotten if they actually got married.
And when it came down to it, who was I to say whom my father should love?
I was slightly obsessed with figuring out all the scenarios of his relationship. If they had children, I’d be a big sister forty-plus years their child’s senior. Would they get married? What kind of role would I have? Was Dale giving Girlie a better life? Was a better life worth it for her and her family? Was she treating him nicely?
With all the questions, I came back to the idea that if they truly loved each other, all obstacles would be unimportant.
A few friends spoke about how their father had similar relationships. One even had a baby sister in Africa. They truly understood the conflicted emotions. Many of them had limited the connection to their father. A new wife and family seemed to be starting a new life and walking away from the old one.
Could I expect that my father would become a new family man? If he was to do it again, would he be more of a father to them then he had to his first round of children? How would it feel to see him start again?
It took about 15 minutes in the Philippines to see that Dale and Girlie’s relationship was not built on love.
The documentary shooting and interviewing took almost two years. In that time, I was able to see and come to terms with that for some people, the material worth is more important than the heart. That family and love is a small commodity when it comes to fulfilling the sucking hole of entitlement.
Ironically, during those two years, I met and married my husband. I love him completely. He is my soul mate and is the complete opposite of my father. My husband is a good, honest man.
After my father, Dale, and I had a falling-out, he still couldn’t understand why I was so upset. He said I must be jealous that he had nice furniture.
I now have a new admiration for people who seek and find true love. It isn’t quite as simplistic as in those silly movies, but the reward it so much greater. I believe that it is so easy to get lost in our lives, but committing to a lifetime of love is so simple, yet so grand.
So I hope that everyone can find love. It doesn’t have to be with a spouse, but it can be found in our friendships, and in our family. There are so many chances to have a moment that radiates joy and simplicity — people may just need to slow down and let it come.
I hope that tonight, we all can sit back and take a moment to be thankful for the love in our lives.
And for everyone else who finds their happiness in material possessions? I hope that chesterfield fills the dark hole in your heart.