The first one was when I was 15 when my first “real” boyfriend and I went to the Concert Hall to see Dan Hill. After we sat down in our seats, he turned to say something to me and stopped dead. With wide eyes he simply said, “You are so beautiful, your hair is so beautiful under the lights”. I heard exclamations of “ohs” and “ahs” and “aw” from the row behind us. I looked back and saw several women beaming at us. My boyfriend was grinning and blushing. I was so red, I felt like I needed to splash water on my face. I will never forget that feeling.
He was so startled and it was like he just realized it for the first time. I actually felt beautiful, which was a wonder back then. He said it again several times after that but it was nothing like the first time. It never is.
The second man said it last week. I think it was the first time I really believed he meant it. He had that same startled look on his face.
I went to see my Dad after finishing a shift at my second job, which is pure physical labour. I was tired, my back was killing me and I was dirty. One of my sisters arrived right after I did but left after a very short time. So it was just me and him.
We talked about many things, sometimes several times. I had, for the third time, to give him the bad news that his siblings had died several years ago. He is always in disbelief when we talk about these things but trusts me totally and believes me.
I know I looked exhausted as I sat across from him. We had a few quiet moments and during one I could feel his gaze upon me. “You’re beautiful, Marie”, he said. “You are truly beautiful”.
I didn’t know what to say. I looked at him to see if the glaze of dementia was on his face and in his eyes but no.
No, dementia was not there.
After a minute, fighting tears, I simply said “Thanks, Dad”.