Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Mom's Boyfriend

His reputation preceded him, he was known for being a not-so-nice person, for a long time I really wanted to hate him but in the end everything I thought I knew about him, I was wrong about.

You see, my mom has a boyfriend. He has been in her life for a few months now. As a daughter having just lost her daddy I was not ready for a new man to come into my mom's life. I had my own ideas about taking time to find a new relationship after an old one ended and this relationship had no chance in my mind. As time went on, though, I began to see that this man cared about my mom. He took care of her every need, cleaning gutters, taking her out for bike rides and having dinner with her to name a few. He breathed life into my mom after her having lost her husband in a terrible, sudden way. Her heart was broken, she was losing the fight to stay grounded in the here and now and she was lonely. For as much as I hated being in the house that her and my daddy shared I knew she must have hated it more having to live around every memory. The most haunting ones for both her and I were of my daddy's last 2 years where he had been sick with having just had a stroke, hydrocephalus, multiple sclerosis, heart problems and eventually a dementia that robbed him of his essence. That house was heavy with pain and grief and it was slowly robbing me of my mom.

Then, her boyfriend was there and slowly I began to find myself wanting to meet this man. He had known that I hated him in the beginning so he was reluctant to meet me but one day the moment came for us to meet.

On that day we all ended up at his house. My mom, my sister, me and Thomas. I felt that based on my preconceived notions that he would have a particular opinion about Thomas though I didn't really know what that was. I guess I figured he would see Thomas as a wounded animal because of his schizophrenia and would have nothing to do with him. Once again, I was wrong.

This man that I wanted to hate so much turned out to be a nice man. He was strong both physically and emotionally. He was a great conversationalist, sharing his life with all of us with confidence. Then my mom told him to take Thomas to see all of his cars and the two of them, Thomas and my mom's boyfriend, headed off to one of many garages. I followed because I felt certain that I needed to protect Thomas but what I witnessed took my breath away.

What I saw transpire before my eyes was a man talking to my boy as if he were his son. He walked him around the cars explaining each one and asking Thomas what he thought of them. Thomas was in awe of this man's car collection and he did little to hide it. The more time they spent together the more I could see that this man cared about Thomas and wanted to open his world up to a life of hot rod cars.

Then the gears shifted and my mom's boyfriend took us on a tour of his man cave (a wonderful room built to look like a mountain cabin inside). He took us to see his architecture work too. Both of these things Thomas loved and I could see by my mom's boyfriend's reaction that he was pleased that Thomas took to these parts of his life with such enthusiasm. What I saw, what I hadn't expected to see, was a man stepping, oh so carefully, into a grandfatherly/fatherly role. After having seen Thomas so excited he made him an offer.

As we exited the last garage he asked Thomas if he would like to go for a ride in one of his cars someday. Thomas lit up and immediately said yes and my mom's boyfriend asked him which one he would choose. All I can say is that it was a Ford Mustang that he chose though this Mustang was a very limited edition one that I know nothing about so I can't talk about it here. To look at Thomas you would have thought that he'd won the lottery. Here was this man, this father/grandfather, who obviously cared about him and wanted to share his life with him. Thomas stepped outside the garage into the sunlight and told me he couldn't wait to go for a ride.

The thing is, and this was my hang up, I really thought that this man would treat Thomas differently because he had schizophrenia. I thought that he wouldn't have time for Thomas and I thought that he'd avoid him at all costs. In the end, though, this man planted seeds of hope in Thomas and even in me too. I knew this man was going to become a big part of my mom's life and as such, since Thomas is a big part of her life, I knew that we would be crossing paths with this man many times in the future.

The truth of the matter is, I was wrong. I'll admit it. I didn't like the man before I even met him and ultimately it was on me to open my life to him and allow him to become a part of the family in his own way.

In this case, I couldn't have been happier to be wrong. This man had given me the only thing I really wanted and that was a chance for Thomas to be a part of his life even though he has schizophrenia. He could have turned away, he could have refused our visit, he could have ignored Thomas but he didn't. He embraced my boy wholeheartedly and for that I will be forever grateful.

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