Reality Check: Oh no she DIDN’T!!!

Oh yes she did!

On my “Who’s Who” page, where I briefly outline the players in this merry little band, I mention my Psychologist Aunty.

Yes, she’s really a Psychologist.

Yes, she should REALLY know better.  (It will all make sense in just a few short minutes).  But first, a little background:

One of the original concerns Us Four mentioned to Dad (and there were only 8 – some of which were essentially duplicates – but I digress) specifically related to Psychologist Aunty.  More particularly, the level to which she was manipulating (either knowingly or unconsciously) his relationship with Angel currently, or the level to which she would be “drawn into” Dad and Angel’s marriage in the future.

We were concerned because Angel had been demonstrating patterns and behaviours not conducive to a healthy Christian marriage (Don’t judge me for using that term).

And, yes, I know a thing or two about healthy Christian marriages.  My parents were married for more than 35 years and provided my brother and I an exemplary demonstration of a loving, growing, vibrant, healthy Christian marriage.

What was it that concerned Us?  Well, after clearly telling me that she didn’t want to have anything to do with Us Four after marrying Dad, and after that became an issue between her and Dad that needed dealing with (rightly so, in my opinion), rather than act like a grown up and discuss or debate and eventually RESOLVE the issue – she threw a tantrum (YES, a literal tantrum minus the writhing on the floor) and refused to discuss it with Dad ever again!

Instead, it’s become clear that she ran off to Psychologist Aunty to bemoan the situation to HER.  Obviously Psychologist Anuty urged Angel to just ignore it, refuse to discuss it, and hope it all just went away.

Why would Angel be running off to my Psychologist Aunty, dibber dobbing on her secret boyfriend, or his kids, and asking her for advice?

Great question – one that’s never been answered, but probably should.

If any of my friends ever did that to me (ie running to me to complain to me about their new secret boyfriend or his kids) I’d give her the proverbial Biblical Slap on the Face.  Rather than tell her what she WANTED to hear, I’d tell her what she NEEDED to hear (ie – this is a LEGITIMATE issue and one that you NEED to discuss with your boyfriend, and him ONLY.  It’s not right to come to ME for advice – this is not MY relationship.  My only advice to you is that you CANNOT avoid this very important issue, and it’s one that you need to resolve.  If you can’t or won’t resolve it, I would suggest to you that the relationship is already on VERY rocky ground and you should just end it before you hurt you or he even further).

So, after having brought you up to speed Dear Reader, my brother received a rather disturbing email from Psychologist Aunty over the weekend.  It was sent to his word email address, so she would have known he would receive it first thing this morning.  I’ll prarphrase it, but even THAT won’t do it justice:

Dear Nephew,

Let me arrogantly assert that I am your superior in every way – educationally, morally and ethically.  You know nothing about the thing you were discussing with my husband last week, so let me put you straight:

Detailed description and alleged ‘correction’ ensue.

Now let me tell you how this description means that you are wrong in the way you act regarding this issue, and begin making the first of many baseless assumptions about what you really think, want, or have said.

I’ll admit that I am guilty of this false understanding myself, and even use it as a basis to judge some of the people to whom I and my husband are most close.  They’re people you know too, like Name from Place.

However, having admitted that I’m guilty of this false understanding myself, I’m going to justify my own attitudes while simultaneously judge you as being wrong and deficient for doing the same thing as me.

Which brings me to Angel.  While she fits the description of the issue of which you have a false and deficient understanding, your allegations and behaviours are unwarranted and wrong.

Now I’ll make some spurious accusations about Keira to you.

Remember, I’m continuing to add assumption after assumption.  I’m using them as if they’re ‘gospel’ and twisting them around to suit my own goal which is, in case you forgot, to remind you that I’m your superior in every way, and you’re wrong about everything, and you need to capitulate to my position or you’ll prove you’re unreasonable, unintelligent and disrespectful.

Next I’ll accuse your Dad of being “simple”.

And I’ll end with a passive aggressive entreaty for you to capitulate to my position because I am the authority on all things and – remember – vastly superior to you in every way imaginable.  You’re wrong.  I’m right.  And you need to capitulate to MY position (which is based on assumption and vested interests).

Love, Psychologist Aunty

Needless to say, considering we don’t “do” secrets in our family (nor lies for that matter) Sean had the foresight to include Dad, Angel and Myself in his response to Psychologist Aunty.  Obviously, she was unhappy with him having done this.

Really?  She feels free to make assumptions, falsely accuse my brother, take the moral high ground while admitting she’s guilty of the same alleged offense, and has the audacity to whinge and moan to my brother about me AND Dad behind our backs!!!

Can you tell I’m cross about this?!

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Thoughts: Engagement Announcement

  1. Dad and Angel told us that, other than Me, my brother and our spouses (hereafter referred to as “Us Four”), no one was aware that they had been conducting a secret relationship, and they never discussed their relationship with anyone (which we now know to be falsehood).
  2. Given the above point, and that Us Four expressed some of our concerns to Dad in the days after he announced his wedding date, who else could he be referring to with the following engagement announcement.  And, for the record: Yes, this is the EXACT wording of the public engagement announcement!

Angelina and Zachary

are pleased to
announce to their
family, friends
and the world in
general that they
are engaged to
be married.

So, doubters,
doubt no more.
Scoffers,
scoff no more.
Gossipers,
gossip no more.

It is now official!!

Reality Check: The Alarm bells are now ringing VERY LOUDLY!

“Well, if I had my way, your Dad would sell this family home, sell his investment property, he’d liquidate his share portfolio minus a small amount that WE would keep, and then he would pay out you and Sean, give you your inheritance now, so he and I could just move on with our own life together and by ourselves.  If I had my way, he’d start over.”

Angelina Clayton – Dad’s secret girlfriend – made this stunning admission to me in private on Christmas day 2013, when I asked her what was really going on with her and Dad.

Remember, Angel and I have been friends since we were teenagers.  We went to church together.  We attended youth group together.  We went on camps, and got up to mischief, together.

And now the alarm bells are now ringing VERY LOUDLY!

Flashback: How do you *know*

I think he was making a cup of tea.  Or perhaps washing the dishes.

In any case, I was perched on the kitchen bench top while he was faffing around.  I have no idea where Mum was – it was evening, so perhaps she was bringing a load of washing inside from the line…

Dad turned to me, and looked at me with a cheeky grin on his face: “So, miss Keira…  Have you figured it out yet?  The answer to your perplexing question?”

A slow smile spread over my face.  I know he would have seen the twinkle in my eye.  With feigned innocence, I responded: “Which question was that, Dad?”

He shook his head, grinning widely now.

It was the same question I asked him every time I came home on University holidays: “How do you know?”

“Know what?” he’d mock.

“DAD!”, I’d whine…  “How do you know if someone is that person you can spend the rest of your life with?”

“Well…”, he’d begin… and then every time without fail, he’d throw up his hands and finish with “You just know.  I can’t tell you how, you’ll just know it.”

An entire long weekend had passed, and it was the first time in what seemed like forever, that I hadn’t asked him that question…

But he didn’t bite.

This was our way.  He knew I’d answer, and so he never had to push.

“Well… it’s tricky…” I began.  And his face cracked with a triumphant “I told you so” laugh welling from his belly…

“You know that you know, when you don’t have to ask ‘How do I know?’ anymore…”

And that was it.  That’s when he knew he’d say “yes” when Christopher Hytten asked him for my hand.

Thoughts: Is this really an unrealistic expectation?

Dad’s an educated guy.  He’s been proverbially ‘around’ for long enough to have some worldly wisdom about appropriate behaviour.

Granted, this is the first time he’s been in the position of having to find a wife, as a widower.  But he’s got friends that have been through this – surely he would be seeking wisdom from those that have “gone before”..?

I’m only mid-thirty-something, and this was my initial and immediate response when someone asked me: “If you were in your Dad’s position, what would you say about being ready to find a new wife?”

This response didn’t take any forethought.  It didn’t require me to go to friends for advice, or a website to reference.  It was based on how I would react if I were in his situation NOW, as well as the “golden rule” of treating others how I would want to be treated.

Needless to say, this was NOT what happened – I’ll save that for another post (or ten) but hopefully this might help YOU, or someone you know, love and care about.

Here’s how to let your teenage or grown up children know you’re ready to start looking for another spouse (written from the perspective of my dad):

Guys, it’s been a few years since your Mum died and, as you know, I’m not built to be bachelor.

I haven’t started dating yet, and while it’s not appropriate for me to update you on my schedule on an hourly basis, I need you to know that I’m ready to get back ‘out there’; I’m open to finding someone else to share my life with.

If I meet someone interesting, I might very well go on a date with her, or spend a little time getting to know her better.  Then, if and when I think it’s something that could get serious, I’ll be the first to let you know because I value your support and encouragement, and actually want you to be part of the process (seeing as she’s going to be marrying you too, by de facto), and want for her to get to know and love you, and you all to get to know, love and respect her.

I don’t have anyone in mind right now – that is not what this conversation is about.  I just want to share with you where I’m “at”.  And if you hear anything from friends, colleagues, or other family members about me being ‘out’ with a woman, you know what’s going on.

Thoughts: Remarriage

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of Yahweh (God).” Proverbs 18:22

I’m philosophically highly supportive of Dad remarrying!

He’s not built to be a bachelor.

Even mum, a month before she fell ill – and in what turned out to be a bout of precsience – specifically told Dad that he was definitely to remarry if/when she died.

And when I think about Dad remarrying – specifically about the type of woman that would be most suitable for him – I imagine she would:

  • have a strong faith in the biblical OneGod, and encourage Dad to develop his own faith;
  • have a similar level of education to Dad, and share at least some interests with him so they could enjoy conversations and activities together that they both enjoyed;
  • be financially literate, enabling her if need be, to responsibly manage Dad’s estate if he were in a position where he couldn’t do it himself, and to contribute financially to the new marriage;
  • be highly family oriented – willing to share her family (if she has one) with Dad, and to become part of his;
  • Psychologically stable, friendly, hospitable, spontaneous (one characteristic mum didn’t have, that Dad felt the lack of), generous, wise – generally, complementary to Dad’s character.

For me, age isn’t necessarily a factor. He could marry someone older, or younger. That wouldn’t matter to me.

It wouldn’t matter to me if she had children or not, whether she had previously been married (as a widow or divorcee), or if she were of a different ethnic or cultural background.

So long as she was a better person for being with Dad, and He was a better person for being with her – so long as they ‘fit’ with each other and their respective families – so long as they brought out the best in each other, and could commit to a loving and supportive marriage – then I would welcome her with open arms, and support the marriage with every fibre of my being.

Who knows, in time, I might even be able to develop a beautiful relationship with her myself, and come to love her and be friends with her (much as I have with my Mother in Law).

But it’s not about me – it’s about Dad.

And he certainly needs to remarry.

Reality Check: Mum’s Dead…

So, my mum’s dead.

She died not quite two and a half years ago.

It was sudden, and after a very short illness.  It was completely unexpected because she fit into none of the known risk categories.  And for as long as I can remember, Mum’d been physically active (playing team sports when my brother and I were younger, walking and exercising at home, and more recently attending the local gym a few days per week like clockwork).  She ate healthily, had a deeply rich spiritual life, and was connected socially to people at her work, church, family, and wider community.

When Mum first got sick, she came interstate to live with us so I could care for her, manage her medications, and take her from pillar to post to all her Dr and specialist appointments.

At the time I’d relocated interstate with my two younger kids.  The initial plan was for me to provide palliative care at home for mum – she didn’t want to die in a hospital.

But that didn’t work out either.

Even though it was an incredibly short period of time from diagnosis to death, those few months seem to have spanned an age.

But at the end of the day, Mum’s still dead.

And there’s no point asking what mum would think about a situation, or wondering what she would do to put a thing right.  The fact is, she’s not here anymore so those thoughts are completely wasted.

Nothing is the same, anymore.  A new version of reality has to be adjusted to.  We ALL have to find a way to move forward in life.  “Different” is not necessarily bad; undeniably uncomfortable (at least initially), but not bad just because it is different.