Riding in cars with my mom’s boyfriend, Dale, is the latter, the type that finds the riders deep in conversation. The times I’ve spent alone with Dale are usually returning from holiday functions at his parent’s house in Ligonier. I remember specific conversations we had; one, about his relationship with my mother, happened on Thanksgiving. We stayed behind to watch the Pitt football game – we listened to the second half on the radio, but I can’t remember any of the play-by-play. We tuned it out. I don’t remember how, but our conversation ambled toward Dale and my mom.
“How long did you and my mom date before she moved in?” I asked.
“We didn’t really date too long before that – but we had known each other for years. I always had affection for her.”
As we passed through green lights going west on Route 30, Dale told me why he loves my mom. These are things I never heard from my dad; there was no explanation, it was just a fact that he loved her. I knew that from the things he kept around, the pictures and the wedding band; I knew because we weren’t allowed to see Dale while my dad was still alive.
“I’ve never fought with your mother, ever,” Dale says.
“Well, are there things worth fighting about that you just don’t bring up?”
“No. We just don’t do things to each other like that; I think your mother and I are cut from the same cloth. Once, maybe, that time that your brother wrecked his car, two or so years ago. She knew about it, but she didn’t tell me. She knew I would have things to say about it, and she didn’t want to deal with it. She didn’t need to be hiding things. But that’s it.”
I tried to think back, to remember if my mom is just non-confrontational. She is; I could picture her being upset about things and not saying it. But I had never heard her say one thing about fighting with Dale, in the fifteen years she had known him.
“Why don’t you get married?” I asked. I remembered a conversation I’d heard my mom having with Dale’s mom on the way home from one of our trips to an arts and crafts festival in Westmoreland County. I could tell she wanted to, and Dale’s mom wished they would.
“I never wanted to get married. I don’t want kids. It’s just not something that’s in the cards.”