catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 12 :: 2010.06.11 — 2010.06.24


My mom’s first date

When my dad died at age 60, we were all stunned. No one saw it coming. His heart stopped working without warning, leaving us without a dad, and my mom without a husband.

For several years, our family mourned. We missed everything about my dad — his relaxed manner, his annoying use of puns, his morning addiction to WGN talk radio. My mom missed him most of all. My parents were not a typical empty-nest couple; they worked full-time, traveled and liked to go out in the evenings to eat and dance and listen to music. My mom was suddenly a widow — a very young-looking widow — not sure about what to do with herself and her boundless energy.

She tried to re-engage with her friends from church, but it didn’t’ work. She and dad had been a part of the same group of couples since they joined 30 years ago. Three decades ago, the “young married’s” class had seemed like a natural fit. All of the couples were raising children and adjusting to life together. Now, she stuck out like the odd piece in the puzzle. She was one of the proverbial “widows” of the church and she didn’t like it. She didn’t fit.

So at the age of almost 60, when I was almost 40 — married with a young child of my own — my mom re-entered the world of dating. Since then, she has tried a variety of ways to meet men her age and to reestablish her active lifestyle, including dances and online dating.

But her first date was the funniest, and I was the instigator.

My husband and I had been out to hear an orchestra playing big band music at a banquet hall near our house. Most of the couples were in their 80s and amazing ballroom dancers. We were having a great time listening to Glen Miller and watching the fox trot.

In the middle of the evening, we were introduced to a European man named Alek. He was good looking in a distinguished way, probably in his late 50s. He had thick charcoal hair with just a touch of grey, friendly eyes and a thick accent. I thought he looked like Martin Sheen. We enjoyed talking to him about where he was from and about the Chicago sights he was anxious to see.

“You should meet my wife’s mom,” said my husband. “What?” I said. The thought had not occurred to me. My mom? As in, date my mom?

So the next time we went, we brought my mom along. She was the hottest ticket at the dance and the highlight for me was watching her do an extremely slow version of the stroll with a tall 90-year-old gentleman. So she laughed with a bit of relief when we introduced her to Alek.

They hit it off. While he was a bit hard to understand, his charming manner and dreamy eyes were enough to make mom dip her little toe into the pool of dating.

They made plans to see a movie with us the following Wednesday. A first date. A double date with my mom! I didn’t know whether to be proud or scared.

When Wednesday night came, the plan was for Alek to pick up my mom and for the four of us to meet at the theatre. It was a small, independently-owned place with only one show, so we couldn’t miss each other. However, ten minutes before we were supposed to leave for the theatre, I had stomach cramps and ran to the restroom. Five minutes later I was back in there again. “Oh no,” I told my husband, “I’m not going to make it to the movie.”

My mom’s cell was turned off. There was no way to reach her. So, we stayed home and left my mom to fend for herself on her first date with a relative stranger.

What I didn’t realize was that the movie I chose — The End of the Affair — was a very provocative film and it put Alek in an amorous mood. As my mom fended off his roving hands — all the time frantically watching for me to appear — she had second thoughts about re-entering the crazy world of dating that she had last known as a teen.

My mom survived that night to brave future dates with other men. Some ten years later, she is dating a wonderful man and is very happy. We’ve had some adventures along this journey — and met some unusual guys and bid them farewell along the way.  We’ve learned something about ourselves and about men. At age 60, some men are still jerks. Some still operate with smooth talk and false lines. Some are still nice, but dorky and undateable. At times I’ve felt more like her concerned mom than her daughter.

Who knew that reentering the dating scene at age 60 would be such a crazy ride…for me and for my mom!

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