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She is also American but moved to Israel 40 years ago. They wondered whether I had seen a picture of his lady friend and were surprised when I said I hadn’t and didn’t want to. “So, no, I don’t really need to see a picture,” I said. We agreed that the woman looked like a normal, nice person.
I am pleased that my father has a companion and continues to have an active, full life, even if it is halfway around the world from me. “I’m good.” My logic was sound and my denial fully intact. The picture looked like a head shot, giving it a formal, removed look as if it could have been pulled from a magazine.
Nevertheless, in the months after my wife's death, a grieving widower was exactly what I was, all the while trying to keep things together to be a good father.
Dealing with the loss of a spouse is bad enough, but seeing your children suffer – waking from nightmares about their mum, crying uncontrollably without warning, getting upset at school at the slightest trigger – is even worse.
She, too, was married for a long time and was widowed around the same time as my father. A couple of months before I met “the lady friend,” I was with some friends, who inquired after my father. “If I see a picture, that means three things,” I answered: a) this person actually exists; b) my mother is dead; and c) my father has a girlfriend.
Jake had previously said to me that he didn't want a stepmother – the word probably conjured images of wicked characters in Disney films.
And this is exactly what I didn't want, and indeed an issue my wife raised towards the end of her life.
"I want you to find someone else, but only if they are good for the children," she told me.
I got married very young, at aged 22, back in 1999, when people met their partners the old-fashioned way – down the pub or at parties.
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After a while, though, I realised that eventually I would have to try to fill the gaping hole and I began to think about another aspect of my situation – being single again after 14 years of marriage. One day, my daughter asked me if I was going to get a girlfriend. After a pause, she asked with a hint of excitement: "Will we get a baby brother or sister?