Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Something to look forward to?

We’ve been having some interesting conversations with my FIL lately. He’s been a widower for over four months and has been acting somewhat different than his usual way. He went away to Europe a few weeks after his wife’s passing. He visited is sister in Hungary. Before he left we told him not to bring back any “baggage” (meaning a new wife). When he came back, we were surprised by something he did while visiting his hometown village. He decided to find his “first love”, the girl he was seeing when he fled Hungary. He left Hungary during the revolution, and made his way to Canada. He was 19 at the times, and his girlfriend was 15. Somehow, through phone calls, he did manage to find her back, fifty years later. She had never left their village, had gotten married, had children and is even a grandmother. He did arrange to meet with her. They had coffee. When he told us about it, I was touched by how romantic it was, and yet I felt a little concerned. What motivated him to do such a thing? When asked, he simply answered that he wanted to know what she had become. I did manage to get out of him, that he still had some feelings for her, and was happy to see that she had a good life.

Since he’s been back, he’s been often saying that he needs to meet someone. He doesn’t like being alone. A few weeks ago, he came over for dinner and blurted out that he was meeting a lady for lunch the next day, on a date. We teased him a little about it, and at some point, I told him (me, not his son!) about protection, and how he should wear clean underwear, etc. It was awkward to say the least. My FIL is the sweetest man you want to meet, but at the same time, he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. He had been married for over 45 years, so hasn’t been on many dates.
Last night, he came over for dinner. He was a bit disappointed that it didn’t work out with the lady he had met. They went on a few dates when she told him that she wasn’t ready to get involved with someone. At times, the things he says are heartbreaking. He sounds so desperate. And yet he is no naïve. He asked us, how should he approach a woman, how does he know if he’s making a good impression or not? How does he know if it will click with this person? How does he see her true character? Hubby and I spent the evening talking with him, coaching him so that he could go out and find himself a date.

It is a strange feeling to tell a 71 years old man, that women enjoy a clean man, with good looking teeth, who’s not too judgemental and you can make decision. I’ve often helped friends, or listened to friends who were single and looking about potential places to go to meet new people, but a 71 years old man? That was a first for me! We both tried. We tried to boost his ego a little, we reassured him as much as possible, and reminded him that there was no time limit. He had to take things as they come. Not to rush in anything, for the wrong reasons.

His wife was so controlling that she basically took away all his self-confidence. He has lost his bearings. She always told him how to behave, what not to say, etc. Without her he feels lost, and it’s only understandable. He doesn’t want to “date” he wants a companion, a “life partner” as he says. At times it’s so cute to hear him but you can’t help to feel compassion for him. I just hope he won’t settle or be taken for a ride…
Image: Dating


Lara said...

Oh, this breaks my heart! I hope he finds happiness soon, whether through a date or simply learning how to be alone.

Brave Astronaut said...

My siblings and I made it very clear to my father he was not getting married again after my mother died. It has not stopped him from using online dating services and going on dates with women.

I have adopted a strict "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with my father. Unfortunately, he has not initiated that policy with my sisters and regales them with stories of his dates and, um, escapades. It's just weird.

Good luck.

lizgwiz said...

Awww...it's sweet of you to help him. Are there any senior centers around where he could hang out? Seems like that might be a good place to meet other lonely seniors.

They say people whose spouses die after long marriages are the most likely to remarry. Apparently many of them just don't know how to be alone. Sounds like he's one of them. I hope he finds someone nice, who's looking for someone nice, and they can look after each other!

Trueself said...

For some reason, in my experience it seems the men are less prepared to deal with life alone than the women.

However, I've seen several older couples get together after both were widowed. Most often I have seen it happen between folks at church. If he isn't a churchgoer then I would think a senior center that has regular activities that he can participate in as part of a group might be a better place to start than one on one dates. And remind him that acting too desperate for a partner is the surest way to push them away.

princess slea said...

that is very sad. The wives just take care of pretty much all the day to day "stuff" and I imagine it would be very difficult for a senior to figure it all out after so many years of having someone else do all those things. (not to say he didn't do things but the things she did for him must have been all the day to day menial things like wash his clothes and grocery shop, etc.)
I hope he finds a lonely old lady looking for someone she can cook for and look after.

Stinkypaw said...

lara: I feel the same way, sad and yet hoping he'll find what he's looking for...

astronaut: I don't really agree with you deciding for your father, but I understand the feeling. It was rough when my mom met her "manfriend" after my father's death.
I'm happy she's happy and like you, I don't need to ehar about it. I only hope my FIL finds a good woman.

lizgiz: I feel for the man. He's a sweetie. He doesn't want to do the senior centers because he's looking for someone "younger" than him by 10-15+ years, so... she wouldn't be a "senior" just yet...

trueself: You are right about men being less preapred. He's not reallya churchgoer but he is involved in the HU church. I did tell him that it was scary/turn off to women to have a needy man around... Let's hope it registered.

princess: Had to show him how to do laundry, to clean, etc. He doesn't want to cook for himself thus his "rush" to find someone... It is very sad.