FELICIA now in her 40s will be the first to admit that Chris her father was a ladies’ man. He was always introducing new girlfriends to me and my brother when we were young. So, when he came in with Fatima, another new find, 26 years ago, I didn’t think she would be anything other than a passing phase. And the fact that at 19, she was a mere 18 months older than me made me really hostile towards her. Couldn’t she find a man her age? Was she after dad’s money? I thought the 20-year age gap between them was ridiculous.
When I was four, my mum left my dad and soon after, Dad had a son with someone else out of wedlock. His second marriage, when I was 12, was to a woman his own age, but that only lasted a few years. And I was 18 when he wed his third wife, Joanne, who again was his age – but that marriage lasted less than a year. I met Fatima for the first time at dad’s third wedding – she was one of his colleagues. Dressed in a show-stopping garb, I never dreamt she would one day be my step-mother. Dad was 40 and she just turned 20 when they got married and I couldn’t be bothered to be friendly with someone who was unlikely to be around for long. Things went from bad to worse when in less than a year, Fatima became pregnant. I kept my distance but when she had a son, I had this strong urge to be a good sister to him and my feelings towards Fatima softened.
Sadly, only a few months later, history repeated itself and they split up. It was at this time that something in me changed. I felt sorry for her. Here was a woman my own age who’d just had a baby and found herself single. I realised how scared she must be feeling. The difficulty of her situation brought us closer and I wasn’t too surprised when Fatima and Dad reunited nine months later. I could tell she’d forgive him anything. Even so, knowing dad’s history, I didn’t think he’d settle down properly. To their credit, they went from strength to strength and after, she had another son, they got legally hitched. I was married myself by then with a daughter, who was their bridesmaid. It was my dad’s fourth wedding, but unlike the others this felt different – more secure. A few years after their marriage, Fatima and I were pregnant together. Somehow, it didn’t seem right to be expecting at the same time as my father. Grandchildren aren’t meant to have to compete with a grandparent’s newborn. Dad and Fatima went on to have my half-sister, now 14, who is also auntie to my two daughters aged 16 and 20! My own marriage crashed after seven years and the divorce cemented my friendship with Fatima. The break-up wasn’t an easy one, so at the weekend I spent time with Fatima. If we wanted to talk, we would – or we could just watch the telly or go shopping together.
Dad works long erratic hours and encouraging Fatima to spend time with me is a way of paying her back for the moral support she showed me when I needed it. And now you’d think it’s Dad who’s the outsider. The age gap between them has become more apparent because Fatima has really blossomed now she is in her forties. Dad on the other hand has started to show his sixty something years – his Casanova days are over! It’s odd to think Fatima and I got off to a tricky start. She’s the best thing to ever happen to my father and I’m definitely lucky to count her as a true friend. In The Interest Of The Home! (Humour) “Darling, we’ve been married nearly 60 years and I’m still very happy. But in all that time, have you ever been unfaithful?” he asked. His wife looked at him in surprise. “Well, if you must know, I was unfaithful just three times.”
“Really? When? “The first time was when you put in for promotion to become the youngest general manager in the company and it all depends on the vote of Malcolm Havelot”
“So being unfaithful one time has helped me work my way up to being one of the most successful men in our industry. Thank you darling. When was the second time?”
“That was fifty years ago when there was a threat of a bypass being built at the bottom of our land. If you remember, there were two options and the final decision rested with the Planning Officer and the Environmental Surveyor.”
“So you saved our house, how wonderful,” he said in gratitude. “Even if you did sleep with two men at the same time. And the third time?”
“Okay, yes, you remember that time you wanted to restructure the company and you were 84 votes short …
“What a way to go! (Humour) An old man and a 20-year-old girl got married and for three weeks, they were very happy until one Sunday he collapsed and died. Her mother arrived to console the unhappy girl. “Oh mum”, she cried. “It was such a wonderful marriage. We were always so passionate, especially on Sunday when he would make love to the rhythm of the church bells”. The girl suddenly looked thoughtful. “Do you know I’m sure he’d still be alive today if the fire engine hadn’t gone past, clanging its bell so ferociously just minutes before he died?”