I grew up in a very loving home. My parents were the perfect example of how couples should live. I never saw them quarrel or exchange words. The only times I suspected that Mom was angry with Dad was whenever she whistled to a particular tune (it was the same song everytime), but after a short while her countenance would be bright again.
Their marriage was perfect until Dad died after a protracted battle with cancer. We were all worried about mom. Losing her husband of almost 40years would break her.
“They were very close, she will not survive this”, we all thought. But Mom surprised everyone. She was fine. As a matter of fact, she handled dad’s death better than we expected.
It was difficult for me to keep a relationship in the past because I was constantly looking for my dad in every guy. He was the yardstick with which I measured every man. Then I met my husband and I decided that this was as close as it could get. I expected Ivan to be like my father.
I’ve watched how my older brothers treat their wives. I could tell that they tried to live out what they had seen in our father. Their wives were lucky and I wanted the same thing.
The first few months of our marriage were tumultuous because I was on a fault finding mission with lvan. He just couldn’t do anything right by me. We were constantly arguing. Then one fateful evening after a heated argument, I picked up my keys and stormed out of the house. I was off to my mom’s. I had to end my marriage and I wanted her to be the first to know.
When I saw my mom, I almost didn’t recognize her. She had done a total makeover of herself and she looked stunning. She was radiating a glow that I have never seen before. All the stress lines on her forehead and bags under her eyes were gone. “What happened?”
Her response almost gave me a panic attack. “I found love”, she said.
I was shocked. How could she throw away the memories she had with Dad and even consider loving another person? What man on earth could ever love her the way Dad did? She was close to 60, why was she even looking for love anyway?
I was disappointed in her. Dad will be turning in his grave right now.
Mom pulled me to the bed and wiped my face as I broke down in tears. “You were always a Daddy’s girl so I don’t blame you for thinking your father was an Angel.
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Your husband called me shortly after your wedding to complain about how you’ve been treating him. I knew this moment would come and I’ve been waiting for you Kara. You married a good man, why do you want to destroy everything with your own hands. You should be building up and not tearing down”.
“But Mom, he’s not like Daddy” I shot back
Mom threw back her head and laughed. “Now listen to me Kara, there are some things I want you share with you and I want you to listen to me carefully before you do anything you might regret.
You see, contrary to what everybody believes, your father did not die of cancer, he had AIDS”.
(I felt chills run through my body from head to toe. This was unbelievable).
Mom continued, “You’ve created a world where your father is the best man that ever lived and every other man pales in comparison to him. It’s time now to break that cocoon you built and come out to the real world and accept that your father was not the man you thought he was”
I can’t even describe how I felt as her words hit me like blows from a professional boxer. I wanted to say something but nothing came. No word. No feeling. Only silence. I was numb.
“Your father was not comfortable with the changes in my body after childbirth so he became a serial womaniser. His affairs were unforgivable and inexcusable. His reckless philandering was a slap in my face but I made up my mind to be with him regardless.
I went on a strict diet plan and exercise routine to stay in shape for him but it didn’t change anything.
There were times I contemplated leaving him but I didn’t want to raise you and your brothers without a father so I continued to stay.
Your father infected me with STD’s countless times so I made up my mind not to be intimate with him for several years until he died. It was a good decision because it saved me from contracting the AIDS virus.
I wasn’t going to leave him. I was committed to keeping my end of our vows… for better for worse.
He came up with the idea of seeing a counselor but he didn’t attend any of the sessions. I always ended up there by myself and that was how my friendship with Justin, the counselor blossomed into something special. Nothing was premeditated, I didn’t expect it to happen but he grew on me and I fell in love with him along the way. It didn’t even matter that I was five years older than him.
Yes, it was against the ethics of his profession but he couldn’t help it. He said to me that from the first time he saw me, he wanted to find the source of my deepest pain and help me find peace and that’s what he did. What I had with him was more like an emotional affair because unlike your dad, I could not bring myself to sleep with someone else even when I burned with desire.
I found out about your father’s two sons just before he died. Yes you have two more brothers. His dying wish was that I ensure that they get a good education. He continues to stress me even in death but I have decided that I’m going to live my best life with the love of my life.
Justin promised to wait for me whatever it takes and however long it will be. He stood by me all those years. Always giving me a shoulder to cry on. He was there for me in my darkest moments. All these years, Justin waited for me even when he knew he could move on with his life but he chose me over everyone else. He made me believe in love again and I’m not letting him go.”
I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until she was done. This was a lot to digest. I couldn’t take it all in at once. The picture I had of my father was distorted. Who would have thought? I had a lot of questions but I didn’t know where to start from.
“Mom, do my brothers know any of this?”
…..”No they don’t but I intend to tell them soon”
“And this Justin, how about his wife?”
…..”She left him when she found out that he couldn’t father a child. He has kids though. He adopted two boys and he raised them with the help of his sister”
“This is a lot Mom. I’m so confused”
…..”I understand baby and I don’t want you to hate your father ok. He only did what he thought was good for him even though it was selfish. Now that is the path I don’t want you to tread. I’ll find time to talk with you and your brothers before I leave for my vacation in a few days but in the meantime time you have to go home to your husband. Ivan is a good man. Go to him and make your marriage work. I’ve found my happily ever after. You go find yours”
My Mom just kicked me out of her house in a nice and friendly manner. I got the message so I left. There was a lot to talk about but I had to wait for her to summon everyone in a few days. For now I had to go back home and make peace with my husband. As I drove back home, I kept thinking of what to say to Ivan when I see him. He had been nothing but good to me and I didn’t reciprocate his affection.
Ivan was sitting at the porch when I got home. He looked confused like he didn’t know what to expect from me. I’m sure he expected my usual outburst or some irrelevant and unnecessary rant but I was tired after hearing about my Dad.
I did the only thing that came to my head, I knelt down in front of him and told him I was sorry. I studied his face as I apologized. I saw stress lines on his forehead. I have been wearing him out without even knowing it. Not anymore. My husband is nothing like my father and I’m going to make my marriage work.
Ivan pulled me into an embrace. It was warm, nice, cosy and loving. This is home. This is where I’m supposed to be.
Right now, nothing else matters. This is where I belong and this is where I want to be. No going back.