By Candida

“Less than a year after my brother-in-law’s death, I rang my sister, Beverly and was surprised to hear her giggling down the line,” said Tope, herself widowed at age 48. 

“When I asked what was going on, she told me she had a ‘gentleman visitor’.  This was around 11a.m., so I told her I’d call back in the afternoon. When I did do, the girlish coyness continued.

‘He’s staying for lunch’, she whispered excitedly.  So I called back at 9p.m.  ‘He’s staying for dinner’, she said.

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“She later confessed the man didn’t leave until well after mid-night.  Two months down the line, he’d moved in with her!  Their relationship lasted almost ten years until her death at age 70. 

Many children dislike their newly bereaved parents finding new love.  Beverly, my sister, was like another figure for me.  I became very close to her when we lost our mother and I knew Bev had found being alone very hard. So, I was pleased to hear her sounding so upbeat.  Sadly, her new relationship soon became less idyllic – but rather than leave a man who turned out to be a charmless bully, she stayed with him.  Desperately afraid of being alone again.

“Sadly, a lot of single women are prepared to ‘settle for less’ because it beats being alone – the stigma of being single is very powerful, especially in later years.  I do not condemn my sister’s decision, particularly as her generation believed there was a shame in not having a man.  Also, her house was twice broken into after she was widowed, making her fear of being alone even more understandable.

But I think it’s a pity she didn’t take time to grieve, push through the difficulties and learn the ultimate happiness and liberation of being truly self-sufficient.  I speak from experience because I too was widowed in the same year as my sister!

“Although I found myself dating and, subsequently in a short-lived relationship, I soon realised it is far lonelier to be in a destructive relationship than to be single.  One of the difficulties for my sister was that her husband, for all his faults, had been such a lovably eccentric and sociable character.

“I couldn’t help but compare her new man unfavourably with him.  Bev and her husband were married for over 30 years and she was treated like a princess. Her husband died of a heart attack at 72 and shortly after mine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Sadly, he had to endure an unimaginable painful end.

“I too felt desolate. I couldn’t eat or sleep as I mourned as much for my lost future as for the man with whom I’d shared my life for 23 years.  Of course, I empathised with my sister’s loneliness and bewilderment at suddenly having to manage a house and finances all by herself.  I too felt the same.  But because of my relative youth and the fact that I had a career and other interests, I was never as desperate to find a replacement man.  It was about six months after my husband’s death that Bev found her ‘wonder’ man.  I only discovered he’d moved in with her after my daughter went to spend some time with her.  ‘Guess what?’ she said after her return, ‘there’s a man living with aunty Bev…’

“At first, I didn’t believe her.  It seemed so quick.  How could she go through the grieving process properly with another man sitting in her dead husband’s chair, eating the same meals she’d cooked for him?  I met him weeks later only for my concern to be intensified.  He was rugged and well-preserved, but had this faintly menacing demeanour.  Far from being good-natured like her husband, Jide (that’s his name) looked slightly threatening – like he’d stepped out of a Nollywood casting for a gangster film!  Bev on the other hand, was all smiles – she was obviously relishing the attentions of a presentable man, so I didn’t want to spoil her happiness.

“Within a few months, I noticed a different atmosphere in my sister’s house.  She was a wonderful cook and was never happier than when entertaining her children, grandchildren and her siblings’ offspring – but Jide objected to this.  ‘Your mother’s been on her feet all day!’, he’d say accusingly, implying rather obviously that perhaps we shouldn’t visit them at all.

In time Bev was always moaning that Jide had threatened to leave or had bullied her in some way or the other.  It pained me to see her manipulated in this way and I found myself advising her to kick him out.  Though she sometimes agreed with me, she never found the strength to see it through.  ‘Jide drives me around everywhere’, was her main excuse.  Other times, she’d say: ‘It’s better than being on my own’.

“She stayed in his abusive relationship for ten years when she suffered a fall.  Jide had always been good at playing chauffeur – she was very proud of his car, the only price possession he brought to the relationship and he’s been helpful taking her to doctors’ appointments toward the end of her life.  But had she enjoyed the tenderness of real love, with him?  I don’t think so.  When I’d asked her whether she really loved him, she’d said: ‘It’s different at my age – it’s not so much about love’.

“The real clue to her feelings was the fact that she didn’t leave Jide anything, not even a memento in her will.  Bev’s three children however gave him a few photographs and a modest cheque to tide him over until he met another sucker, but he sent them back with a nasty letter.  ‘I cannot pretend living alone is absolutely wonderful – it would be nice to have someone with whom to share life’s pleasures – but it is far better than being constrained by a damaging relationship as my poor sister was – whatever the fears that kept her chained to it.”

Sweet Revenge!  (Humour)

A husband and wife are getting all snugly in bed.  The passion is heating up.  But then the wife stops and says; “I don’t feel like it.  I just want you to hold me”.  The husband says “WHAT???” 

The wife explains that he must not be in tune with her emotional needs as a woman.  The husband realises that nothing is going to happen tonight and he might as well deal with it.

So the next day the husband takes her shopping at a big department store.  He walks around and had her try on three very expensive outfits.  And then tells his wife.  “We’ll take three of them”. 

Then he goes over and gets matching shoes worth N100,000 each.  And then goes to the jewellery department and gets a set of diamond earrings. 

The wife is so excited (she thinks her husband has flipped out, but she doesn’t care).  She goes for the tennis bracelet.  The husband says, “but she doesn’t even play tennis, but OK if you like it, then let’s get it”.

The wife is jumping up and down.  So excited she cannot even believe what is going on.  She says, “I’m ready to go, let’s go to the cash register”. 

The husband says, “no-no-no, honey we’re not going to buy all this stuff”.  The wife’s face goes blank.  “No honey – I just want you to HOLD this stuff for a while”. 

Her face gets really hot she’s about to explode and then the husband says, “you must not be in tune with my financial needs as a MAN!!!”

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