I went out for lunch with mum and dad today. Nothing unusual about that I guess, except for the fact that my parents have been separated since I was fifteen. Without revealing my age, lets just say that that was a long time ago.
My parents have the most unusual relationship, but it hasn’t always been that way. When they first separated, they would barely speak to each other. It took the birth of my son, their first and only grandson, to bring them together to a point of cautious civility again. After that, things just kept snowballing until they were even living in the same state, then the same suburb – two streets away from each other.
They have now been living this way for approximately sixteen years. It seems to work for them, although the dynamics of the ‘relationship’ they have may appear to others as quite bizarre.
They go out for lunch together two or three times a fortnight. Sometimes they go to movies together, or a family function. It’s nothing for one to cook a meal and take some around to share with the other. They also take each other to their respective doctors’ appointments, especially if it involves tests and the recipient of the test cannot drive to the appointment and home again. It works for them. And to be quite honest, it works for me too. I get go out with both of them to the same venue, and we all have a good time.
Like all relationships, there is always a bit of give and take. Mum gives a lot, and Dad, bless his tactless heart, takes.
My mother is the brains of the outfit, however. I don’t say that to insult my father’s intelligence, because he is quite an accomplished man, and has had an interesting life, of which deserves its own blog. I say it because my mother is a thinker, a planner, and a strategist who likes to hold all the cards. My mother likes to be in control, and my father is the wind of change that blows in every now and again to scatter order to the four corners of the earth. My mother is logical and methodical. My father is whimsical and spontaneous. I like to think that I have inherited a little bit of both of them, but of course, when I have annoyed one of them, it’s always the other that I resemble the most.
Because of the above traits, there has always been friction. While they were living together, they generally kept a lid on it without killing each other, but now that they can go to their respective ‘domains’ at will, the gloves are off.
I like to sit back and watch them at times. Their banter amuses me. My father likes to annoy, goad, and tease – and my mother bites – hook, line and sinker. He doesn’t always win though. Mum generally out manoeuvres him when she ‘forgets’ one of his hospital appointments and he has to rebook, or doesn’t remind him of a bill he has to pay. Dad is hopeless with the little details, and this is where mum excels.
My mother once told me not long ago, that if they hadn’t separated when they did, she would be just getting out of goal for murder now. I’m not sure if she was kidding or not.
I know my parents pretty well though, and it is safe to say that they have the ideal relationship, in respect to their individual personalities.
When I think about it a little more, I realise that we all have a little of those dynamics in our relationships. My husband and I get along most of the time, but we are two very different people. We are both reasonably intelligent people, but I am probably the less patient personality, which borders on downright psychosis at certain times of the month. My husband generally takes it in his stride, but it is probably just as well that he goes away to work for weeks and then comes home again, or it could get ugly.
Mum and dad have learned to work around their differences and within their limitations to have a relationship that will probably endure until one of them is no longer on this earth. Despite the angst at times, there are glimpses of respect, and even love. Everything they own is the other’s if something should happen. They have taken care of each other to the end.
I can only hope that I should be so lucky.