I have often spoke of my mother in my column and her gentle soul, good looks, and untimely death at the age of 49. Yes, my mother, who stood only 5’2” with jet black hair, big brown eyes and a heart of gold, was the perfect match for my larger-than-life father. She completed him and when she died he was a lost soul.
He roamed from state to state trying to find himself as if he was looking for something he left somewhere. He finally settled down in Las Vegas, Nevada where he would become an actor in TV and movies. He was never a lead but did have fun and got to meet some very famous people. He never gambled and, in fact, hated the idea of even putting a quarter in a slot machine, but the excitement of Vegas kept him and his grieving heart busy. He was as happy as he could be, but there was still something missing.
My father was a tall Italian man with striking good looks, salt and pepper hair and a smile that could brighten the night sky. When my mother passed away, he had no problems attracting the ladies. In fact, women came out of the woodwork trying to pursue him. The stories that surround his dating experiences after my mother died could be a book of its own and maybe one day I will share them. But, for today I am not going to talk about all his failed attempts at dating. Today I am going to tell you about sweet, sweet Loraine.
Loraine was a tall blond woman with blue eyes and was only slightly a year older than me. In describing her looks, age and the fact that she lived in Las Vegas you might think I am painting a picture of a gold digger. You know the type. An attractive younger woman who seeks out the affection of an older man for financial gain. You would be wrong. Loraine, was anything but.
At first, the twenty plus year age difference really bothered my dad. He did not set out looking for a younger woman and all his dates up until Loraine were more in his age range so he was in unchartered territory. I remember getting a phone call from him as he expressed his concern about it. Surprisingly, I was not opposed to him dating someone my age. After some of the “winners” he dated the first few years post my Mother’s passing, age was the least of my concerns.
On the surface, Loraine did not appear to have anything in common with my father, nor did she seem like she would be his type. First of all, she was tall, blond and young. She came from the Midwest state of Iowa and grew up on a farm. My father was a city kid from New York growing up in an ethnic Italian Catholic family. That being said, he loved her. His only concern was her age, but after I reassured him that it was ok, he seemed to get over it. Honestly, my father in his mid-fifties at the time and Loraine in her mid-thirties looked fabulous in pictures together.
Even though I had not met her yet, I knew I would like her. After all, she was making my dad very happy and that is all I ever wanted.
They announced their wedding day, but sadly we were unable to make it. I had three young children at the time and traveling from Tennessee to Vegas was just not in the cards. It would be a little while before we would actually meet Loraine and when we did we were in for a big surprise.
She was everything and nothing like my father described. At the risk of sounding corny there is no way he could have explained to us her true genuine spirit. She was like a living breathing cartoon character. Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty all rolled into one person. She emitted nothing but pure love. Love for my father, love for us, her new family, and love for life. Although we were very close in age, I could describe her as a Buddhist would, as someone with an old soul.
I fear that if I go on telling you about her you might think I am exaggerating for the purpose of this story, but in truth, I cannot say enough wonderful things about her. The only other person I ever knew with her gentle spirit was my mother. So in that respect my mother and Loraine looked exactly alike. Turns out my dad did have a type and it had nothing to do with height or hair color.
They were married for over ten years when my dad took ill with a rare illness and ultimately passed away. The whole time he was sick, Loraine was by his side, loving him. She was completely and totally selfless. It was all about my father and his needs. Feeding him, massaging him, bathing him and loving him. As I write this, I have tears streaming down my face remembering a particular day during my dad’s illness when he was completely bedridden and sweet Loraine sat at his feet rubbing them with lotion. Her expression was that of an angel and it pains me to remember seeing such a beautiful act of love.
This August marks ten years since the death of my dad and Loraine’s husband. It also marks ten years since I have seen her. I don’t know why, except perhaps it would be too hard to see her and for her to see us. I called her a few years ago and my dad’s voice was still on her answering machine. We have contacted each other via Facebook, but, we have yet to see each other. If I do see her, I think I will break down and cry. I think of her often and I pray she is as happy as she made my father. I love her in ways that is hard to express in mere words.
As life’s mysteries would have it, Loraine has been heavy on my mind. It is, after all, the ten year anniversary of my dad’s passing. I started writing this weeks column on Saturday. I got to the paragraph right above this one when I stopped for the night only to finish on Sunday.
Right before I was sitting down to resume, I got a picture text message from my daughter in Asheville. It was of her and sweet Loraine. Turns out Loraine was there attending a teachers conference and they met for dinner. Loraine is now a Kindergarten teacher. How perfect. I don’t think I need to point out how bizarre it is that after ten years and on the very weekend I was sharing a story about this special woman, she appears. Certainly that is mysterious but that is not the biggest mystery of this story.
I would like to know what a Las Vegas odds maker would say the odds are that a man would find two amazing women in one lifetime. And what would the odds be that in a town nick named Sin City, my dad would find a sweet, beautiful, mid-Western angel? My father struck it rich in Vegas and he didn’t even like gambling. Life is Mysterious.