Talking about Dad is incomplete unless you also talk about Kat.
It was an awkward beginning, as it usually is when divorced parents start dating again. And when you’re 19 and you find out your 40-year-old father has a 24-year-old girlfriend, well….
That first dinner is comical to look back at now. The 16-year-old sister was silently fuming (“She’s only 24! What’s wrong with him? Grrr!”) and the 9-year-old sister didn’t want to do or say something wrong, so just sat there staring at her plate. The silence was deafening. As the oldest, it seemed it was up to me to try to make some kind of polite conversation.
As it turns out, Kat and I both graduated from the same high school, five years apart. Great, we have something in common. So we start chatting about things like civics class with the entertaining Mr. Linde, the pitiful football team, and the tyranny of certain PE teachers. Her younger sisters went there, too, did we have friends in common?
The 16-year-old sister is literally gritting her teeth and Dad looks like he wants to slide under the table. Trying to be friendly, I’ve done the worst possible thing.
“Uh, so….Kathy, what did you do after school?”
Fortunately, it got better from there.
Kat, it turned out, was mature beyond her years. And Dad was such a kid at heart. Somehow, it always seemed they were the same age.
Practical and responsible, but with an irrepressible sense of fun, Kat was perfect for Dad. She brought out the best in him, supported him, grounded him, loved him. And we love her for it, with our middle sister now her biggest fan.
And Dad loved her, loved her spirit, her humor, her sassiness. He was so proud of her creativity and her ability to make friends with anyone, anywhere.
Dad ‘n Kat. It’s like one word now. Impossible to think of one without the other. Right about now that age difference and the prospect of having Kat in our lives for a long time to come is looking pretty good.