My parents met when they were in high school and quickly married at a young age; my mom was 15 years old and my dad was 16. After six kids and 28 years of marriage, my mother decided to do the brave thing and divorce my dad. Their marriage was a very treacherous relationship. Living through infidelity and married to a man with a very machismo way of thinking, my mom had enough of the loveless marriage and the damage that he had caused to our family. With support from my sister and me, she filed for divorce.
For my mom, as an immigrant from Mexico who barely made it to her sophomore year and had never worked a day in her life, this was really scary. How could she care for six kids on her own? After 28 years of depending on someone, she now had to care for her children and herself, and she didn’t know if she could do it.
My sister and I did our best to encourage her to find her the resources that would give her confidence that she could start a new life, a better life for her and my siblings. Both my sister and I being in our twenties and out of the home with our remaining four siblings living with her, we encouraged and supported her through this new life path that she was going on.
One day she downloaded Facebook — and our lives changed forever. Her addiction to Facebook started to become concerning. She talked about joining different groups and meeting people online. She joked about meeting male friends and wanted to see where that took her. Her confidence had boosted significantly, which was not bad in itself — but then one day she told my sister and I that she had met someone on Facebook and that she wanted to go visit him in South America.
At first my sister and I brushed it off and joked with her about it. For some reason, even after she continued to bring it up, we just didn’t take it seriously. My sister and I thought she would never just go to another country to meet this man. No way, not mom. She is smarter than that. Does she not watch “Dateline” and “Unsolved Mysteries”? I swear I had just watched a “Dateline” episode with these same details where the woman disappeared.
Still, she continued to talk about this particular man over and over again. Then one day she dropped a bombshell: he is only two years older than me, and they were finalizing travel plans for her to visit him in South America. We laughed — a little nervously this time — thinking it would go nowhere, but also feeling a little disturbed that she would be dating someone her child’s age. My sister and I had many conversations about this. Was she going through a midlife crisis? Was this really happening? Is she going crazy? I had never seen her this happy in my life, but I just wasn’t expecting this from her.
Then the day we dreaded happened. She called me and said “I’m going to visit him next month and see where it goes.” I felt like time stopped, and I got nauseous. Part of me was happy to see her so happy; the other part was screaming what is my mother doing with someone half her age?
I told her I didn’t want to hear anything more about this ridiculous scenario, and she got upset and hung up on me. I immediately called my sister. Our worst nightmare was coming true: our 60-year-old mother was going to go to South America to meet this 30-year-old man she met online. What if she is being catfished? What if he is this creepy serial killer who lures desperate older woman to South America and does who knows what to them? We didn’t want to end up on an episode of true crime TV.
We immediately called my mom and expressed our concerns. We didn’t think it was the right thing to do and we really wanted to support her being happy; however, we let her know that she was frankly being naïve in going to meet a stranger in South America. What is the plan if he isn’t who he says he is? Then what?
When we realized my mom was not going to back down and there was literally nothing we could do, we decided to put our detective hats on. My sister and I quickly got to work and started downloading all his photos from Facebook and linking any family photos we could. We started to look for frequent check-ins from him in South America and noted everything. We were preparing for the worst-case scenario. Our mom was going to go meet a man she met online in South America and stay there for two months. A scenario we replayed so many times in our head, yet still just couldn’t comprehend.
I can’t explain to you the anxiety that we had on the day that she was flying out. We were so scared for her, but she was an adult and we couldn’t stop her. We prayed and made sure we had the addresses of where she was staying and begged her to do video calls as soon as possible.
Much to our surprise, three years later, they are still going strong. They got married in South America; however, he still lives there and she lives in the States. She visits him a couple times a year for a few months at a time. Because she knew that we didn’t approve, they got married behind our back.
My sister and I are still weirded out about the situation, but we can’t deny that we love finally seeing our mother this happy. Her confidence in herself is like no other. It saddens me that we couldn’t be involved in the marriage ceremony and support her like she needed us to do, but it’s just so weird for us still. The age gap and their scenario are just so bizarre. And we have still never met him, even though he’s our stepdad now.
Despite it all, my sister and I constantly try to put our feelings aside and try to think that maybe the age difference is truly nothing but a number to them (obviously), because they seem very much in love. To each their own, I guess.
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