I’ve been luxuriating in the afterglow of a wonderful weekend with Brandon, his wife, Ingrid and their adorable baby, Esther. I wondered what I’d write about the weekend, as I ate way too much, drank the most awesome cocktail (it was research) and felt very thankful for someone who made this all possible.
In my last post, I talked about Brandon, my step-son. He was four when I met my ex, and six when we married.
My mom, who was hoping for a single, handsome, Italian, Catholic doctor for her daughter, was not completely sold on the idea of me being with a man, who was only one of those things, especially one with a small child. But, as soon as my mom met Brandon, she was smitten. “He’s a so cute anna such a nize a boy,” she said, and tried to fill him with candy immediately.
The only problem was his name; she couldn’t remember it. She said, “Frenzy honey, I’mma sorry but I can’d a remember hissa name. I have to ting offa breast anna den itta comes to me.” I could imagine the gears in her brain furiously turning as she said, “Breast, breast, breast…then…Oh Brendenz! It was as close as she could come to Brandon, but that was OK, she thought he was wonderful.
Brandon was 28 when we divorced and will always be part of my history and my family. No matter how legal the document, no divorce paper can erase 22 years of being a step-mom. I will always think of him as my son.
My other son, Anderson, always marvels at the connection I feel toward Brandon and once commented, “Wow, with all these pictures of Brandon in the house, people probably think you gave birth to him,” which is how it feels to me.
Even more so because we have a lot of similarities. I identify with him on many levels and we can just talk, which is a wonderful thing for a woman in her 60’s to be able to do with a young man in his 30’s.
After my divorce, he drove with me, Topper, the Corgi and Cosmo, our now deceased, bladder challenged Chocolate Lab, all the way to Ohio, in my gray Honda Pilot. As we were pulling out of Glendale, he almost brought me to tears when he thoughtfully took care of me first. He unwrapped one of the burritos we’d just bought at El Sauz and got my horchata ready to drink because I was behind the wheel.
That little gesture felt like a wild, optimistic foreshadowing, that one day some wonderful man out there might not mind going to some trouble to make me comfortable. I haven’t found him yet, but the hope still flickers.
Our weekend was great. I hung out in my pajamas, as the morning sun poured through the windows, watching as the baby devoured her food, then played on the floor.
After initially eyeing me suspiciously, little Esther slowly warmed up to me, and when Brandon handed her to me, I was touched and thrilled she didn’t fuss too much. I am officially “Franma,” a completely perfect title.
Just sitting on the white canvas couch and learning more about Brandon’s wife was such a treat. She’s amazing. A former professional ballerina (if we’re talking dedication – professional ballet dancers are right up there with surgeons, astronauts and the Dalai Lama, in terms of years of preparation.) She started lessons when she was three-years-old. Now she’s an entrepreneur, always thinking of new ideas for products and services, and so dang smart.
I loved talking with Brandon, trying to figure out exactly what his job entails, and about life in general. His easy going personality, kindness, humility, and interest in voicing ridiculous characters make him completely lovable. And your heart goes to mush when you see the kids you watched grow up become loving parents. I always knew he’d be a great dad.
Brandon and Ingrid have also taught me a new appreciation for cocktail hour. A finely created cocktail is something to behold and savor. I think I’ll be taking my cocktail preparation a little more seriously in the future.
The best part was seeing my three kids, on the couch together, talking about what music they like and what’s cool on their phones.
The weekend left me so thankful for someone who probably hasn’t been thanked nearly enough; Brandon’s mom, Theresa. She gave birth to Brandon when she was 22, single and had no idea how things would turn out. That takes bravery on a level I could never have approached, and a lot of love.
It didn’t occur to me then, but I realize now, it’s very scary to send your six-year-old off to stay with a family in Pennsylvania, you’ve never met, (some of whom can’t even remember your kid’s name) but she allowed it.
When you’re the new wife, the ex is always painted with a brush colored by previous circumstances. But after many years, and my own divorce, those brush strokes disappeared and I saw her differently and much more clearly. Now she’s on a canvas painted by the man Brandon’s become, and there’s nothing there but love.
Wisconsin Old Fashioneds -They’ll Make You Thankful Too!
1 sugar cube