Those of you who know me realize there’s a big old mama bear lurking right beneath the surface. A fierce force poised to explode outward, claws bared, if someone messes with my pack.
The kids, BrightSide, my friends – they all fall into that category, and I’ll be the first to admit that my mama bear reactions can be, well, trouble. Doesn’t mean I can stop them, but at least I recognize it.
It’s funny, though…as reasonable as these defensive, circle the wagons responses seem to me, I never in my wildest dreams expected mama bear to rear her ugly head when it comes to my dad.
Dad’s changed over the years – I’m constantly struck by the vast difference between fathering and grandfathering – but he’ll always maintain certain characteristics when I think of him. We’ve had too many years solidifying our relationship for me to shake them now.
Strong. Opinionated (in a “my house, my rules” sense). Commanding. Traditional. Fully committed to a proper plan.
Dad had to adapt their routine greatly as mom’s primary caregiver over the last five years or so. My parents always had a very traditional marriage but when mom got too sick someone had to do the grocery shopping and handle the laundry, so dad did. And it changed him.
Yet I still had those characteristics lurking in my head. Patriotic. Patriarchal. In charge. Which is why my mama bear instinct’s roar took me by surprise a couple of months ago.
My dad lives in a retirement community about thirty minutes from us. He and mom moved in about ten years ago, and now dad lives alone in the small house they shared. There are some challenges to living there but overall I think he likes it.
I liked it just fine, too, and I was glad to know dad was surrounded by neighbors as well as church friends when my mom passed away in January. I felt that way right up until the day I learned that apparently women in retirement homes act like vultures on the hunt when someone becomes a widower.
Don’t get me wrong, my dad is a catch. He’s funny and smart and has done a lot of really interesting things in his life so he’d be a great person to get to know. And it’s not that I have a problem with the idea of my dad dating – what makes him happy makes me happy, and I’d be fine if he found someone whose company he enjoys.
These particular women are the thing that made me want to storm the castle, torches raised and tirade in full force. The ones pushing themselves at my dad when he was clearly still grieving my mom. The ones making him uncomfortable instead of giving him time to get back on his feet.
The bridge club vultures.
(To be fair I don’t actually know if they play bridge, but calling them old lady vultures seemed a little harsh. Then again, given how they’ve been acting…if the shoe fits…)
When I heard about these women the word hussies jumped to mind, and I felt a surge of fierce protectiveness toward my dad that ranked right up there with mama bear reactions for my kids. How dare they behave as if my father was first prize at the county fair?!
If I didn’t think it would horrify him I’d march right over there and give those women a piece of my mind. Maybe a few lessons on socially appropriate behavior. Kindness of spirit. Generosity.
Not acting like the retirement community tramp.
You know, the usual stuff you have to tell the local grandmothers.