And so it was, I would spend one weekend a month staying with my Dad and C. She never tried to be a mother to me, we were friends I suppose, all along, but never that close really. Years passed and they moved to different countries because of his flying, so I would visit them in Italy and Holland and then later they settled for their retirement in Spain.
When she got ill it all happened very quickly, after being diagnosed with bowel cancer, she died two weeks later. You know how you always have that sense that you would never want a member of close family or a good friend to pass without making sure everything that needed to be said was said? Well in her case, as far as she and I were concerned, nothing was said. By the time I got to Spain she was so ill that I barely saw her. She was so drugged that I could never have unburdened myself with all the things that were unsaid.
She was a good, good woman. Even though for years I felt she was the 'other woman'; I never told her that actually I did love her or that as a stepmother she balanced that subtle art of being there but not being too much. She was gentle and honest and empathetic. At the end of the day, my Dad and she were together for longer than my parents were - if that makes sense. The point being that they clearly loved each other very much, despite their start in love being so harrowing for others.
As they always lived far away, I sometimes still reel to think that she's gone, as in reality her death didn't affect my day to day life. My children don't really remember her now and I have so few pictures of her as I never wanted my Mum to stumble across any...I never wanted to re-open any old wounds.
But all in all I feel I never really did her justice. I never acknowledged how very hard it must have been for her to slot into the lives of two children (my brother and I) who belonged to the man she was with. If I could go back, I would, just to say...sorry for not saying what should have been said.