Today my dad and his fiancee Sandy are continuing their drive up to Canada from Florida. This is their second day of driving together on their way back from Florida as snowbirds, avoiding the harsh Northwestern Ontario winter. I got an email from Dad late last night. He told me that they have arrived at Montgomery, Alabama for the night after a good day of driving (over 800 km) but that they also got lost a few times. He admitted that this drive is testing their relationship like 'trial by fire'.
I also got a short email from Sandy saying that the traffic 'wasn't too bad at all' and she sent this photo of Dad writing emails at the hotel. Dad would be mortified that she sent the photo, even more mortified that I'm putting it on my blog but to me it exemplifies the huge distances my father has covered in the last year since meeting Sandy. True, there is the physical distance. Not only this incredible trip which Dad took reluctantly, heels dug in the whole way there and the weeks, even months before...but the distance that Sandy lives out of Thunder Bay, by the side of Lake Shebandowan, just over 100km away. Dad and Sandy regularly traveled those kilometres to spend time together over last spring, summer and fall. But, more astoundingly, is the emotional and psychological distance that Dad has traveled since being with Sandy.
She tends to be fun-loving and spontaneous. Dad tends to be a regimented worry-wart. "Glass half-empty" person he calls himself. Since Mam died over 5 years ago, and even before that, Dad regularly set his alarm to go off at 4:30am and got up to start his day then even though he is retired and had no pressing need to greet the day then. Likewise he turned off his bedroom light and went to sleep at 10:15pm. Rigid routine became his comfort; fear of change, his captor. No matter what anyone said or did, no-one could coax him out of his set routine.
Then along came Sandy. Neither of them was looking for love or companionship. They met at church. This was the first big step for Dad. He had only gone to churches for funerals and weddings previously in his life. But he felt beckoned by a Blue Christmas service in 2017 which acknowledged that Christmas can be a sad time for people. The pastor was kind, all the ladies fussed over him and he began to attend church regularly all through the winter and into the spring, inadvertently sitting in Sandy's spot, on her cushion. When Sandy, ever the snowbird, returned in the spring she found Dad in her space.
They got engaged last August and are set to be married on 1st June this year. Dad was already reluctantly talking about going to Florida before I had even met Sandy! Anyone who saw them together couldn't deny they were totally in love. They leaned in together when talking to each other and giggled and held hands. They created their own little world. At Sandy's 75th birthday party, I asked her daughter Robyn how she felt about the relationship as some earlier talk had made me realise that she felt a little pushed aside in a way, the way I could feel at times. Robyn shrugged and pointed at Dad and Sandy in a corner, hunched together laughing over a private joke. "Look at them how happy they are. How can I feel anything but happy for her?" she said. I agree. Their relationship lightens my heart, brightens my life and eases my mind.
But, for once, I am glad that Dad is fastidious about routine on their long drive home so that he emails with updates whenever he can.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.