Twelve days ago, I received a text message addressed to myself and my three siblings from my mom's boyfriend of two years reading, "Hi, all — I'm asking your mom to marry me right now! I love her very much." If anything, the first emotion I felt was complete and utter shock. I had anticipated their long-term devotion to one another and potentially the merging of households, but never engagement. I had frequently inquired of my mom whether or not she intended to marry her boyfriend, but she waved her hand dismissing the idea as if it were a silly school girl's dreams. I later received the message informing us of her having said yes, and I froze.
I called my mom on the phone and I cried. "Tears of joy" is what I told her, but to be quite honest, my emotions were so muddled I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was that was making the tears stream down my face. Of course, first and foremost, I cried for her happiness. I cried because I think the world of my mom and knew that to be betrothed to a man who treated her like the angel she is and who cared deeply for her children was a dream come true. And so, I was happy. But as I further explored my reason for sobbing, I found sadness.
When my dad passed away, I never considered the idea of a replacement father figure, although I was only 8. But as I got older and the boyfriends came and they went, the possibility escaped my mind almost entirely. When she met Wayne, I knew he was something special, but again, the faintest thought of their engagement seemed so unrealistic to me. When he proposed, my heart sunk. I had never anticipated having a step-father, or someone who could ever be in the same position as my dad. And all of a sudden, I felt anger.
I was angry with Wayne for not giving us a heads up, angry with my mom for wanting to replace dad, and angry with myself for being angry. Because, after all, this was about my mom's happiness, not the way that I felt. I would be leaving the house soon, only visiting on holidays or work vacations. And that's when I realized that this engagement is what my mom needed to hold her together. She has always been the most optimistic of people, worrying about others, caring for them when she herself had more pressing matters to attend to, and loving each and every one of her children. But now it was her time to be cared for as each of us flew from the nest. She wasn't replacing dad in any capacity, she was making sure she had someone permanent in her life to grow old with; that's what most everyone wants, isn't it?
After sitting and thinking for a bit, I came to this conclusion, and I was happy again. Happy for my mom, happy for Wayne, happy for my family, happy for his. And, I was happy for dad. Because I knew he was watching, I knew he had chosen a wonderful fiancee for the woman he loved until his last breath, and I knew all he wanted was every happiness in the world for her. And that was more powerful than any feeling. So, cheers to the happy couple and to my new step-father; welcome to the family, Wayne.