The Hairbrush
Reader's Digest India|September 2020
The Hairbrush
My Mum had wanted Dad to find new love. I was the one having trouble with it
Lisanne van Sadelhoff
It had been my mom, Paola, who pushed my dad to find a new lover. She had just turned 56 and had been sick with metastasized colon cancer for six months.

“Ton?” she had asked her love of 40 years.

“Yes, dear.”

“Don’t stay alone too long, after I’m gone.”

“But you won’t be gone for a long time.”

“But I will, one day, and then you need to get on a dating site. Lisanne will help you. Go find a nice woman, okay? But promise me one thing. Don’t go slutting around because that’s terrible for the children and for those women.”

Search, find and love. Dad locked this advice away in the back of his mind and it didn’t resurface until over a year after my mother died. That first year had been pitch black, for all of us—I didn’t know what pitch black meant before that year.

In a practical sense, Dad managed. He had always been able to fry his own eggs. He went back to work, walked the dog, picked up his tennis lessons and every week he placed fresh purple tulips next to a photo of his wife— red lipstick, huge smile, blue, blue eyes, a glass of wine.

After that first year, things brightened up a bit. “Is it me, or is it a bit sunnier?” Dad had asked one day. It wasn’t climate change or even the weather. It was him, and a new stage of mourning. I had felt it myself, the transition from pitch black to grey.

Even then, he wanted it. New love. He wasn’t so much ready for it as eager to find out if he could still love. And he really didn’t want to spend the rest of his life by himself. My brother and I had left home years ago, for study, work, love. Dad was alone—day in, day out. At night, before he went to bed, he switched on the television so as not to hear the silence.


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September 2020