|Ducks (photograph © Wibe Koopman)|
Isa’s Sundays used to be filled with people. A husband, her two daughters, her Mum, friends. She used to rush around her kitchen from two in the afternoon; preparing dinner, chilling wine, making sure everything was just so for when everyone would sit around her huge teak dining table at six.
When did all this change? The rot started with her Mum dying of the cancer that had sneaked up on her five times previously. The sixth time the cutting and medicating couldn’t save her. Isa mourned her in silence. She wasn’t given to loud and public mourning. But she missed her mother terribly.
Then, out of the blue, her husband of twenty-five years dropped a bombshell into their tidy lives. He had fallen in love with a woman fifteen years younger than Isa. And this woman loved him. Love! So he moved out. And moved in with his new love. Isa mourned the demise of her marriage as she had mourned her mother. Quietly, secretly, but not bitterly. Thus was life. Husbands left for greener pastures and greener leaves, one only had to look around the supermarket to see the evidence.
But when in the course of one year both her darling daughters left as well, one to study International Business Law in Maastricht and one to teach abroad, Isa had to face down a huge urge to get seriously depressed. The wine hardly got the time to chill properly. (Copyright Renée Koopman – If you steal this you are a very bad person!)
Her few true friends rallied round. But all of her not-so-true ones disappeared along with the Sunday dinners as soon as they got the message that Isa wasn’t her normal cheerful welcoming self.
Isa got through it by working hard. How ever late it had got the night before, how ever many glasses of wine she had guzzled down in the evening, she was there in time for her first appointment of the day. Slowly, very, very slowly, she found she could smile, and then laugh again at the antics of het cat.
She managed to shoulder the burden of her daughters’ shock over the phone at their father’s midlife crisis, with carefully contrived humour, and clichés straight out of women’s magazines. “But don’t you hate him, don’t you hate her,” they would ask, and she would give a little chuckle (mentally patting herself on the
shoulder in the meantime; oh, how good you are at acting grown up!), and reply “No, no, how can I hate them for something as natural as falling in love? Don’t forget we had you, and you are worth it, all of it.” (Pat, pat, pat, and a quick trip to the off-license after work)
Anyway, Isa counted herself lucky in a way. Robert, perhaps feeling guilty, had agreed to a quick, harmonious divorce. Not for her the screaming rows, the spitting fits, the tug of war. She had, a whole bottle of Chardonnay gone, for a few minutes considered cutting up all his suits (weren’t you supposed to do that sort of thing?), but couldn’t find the scissors and then nearly fell down the stairs, so she gave up on that idea. Another cliché.
After a while things calmed down even more, and she found she could see Robert around town without wanting to throw her arms around his knees and beg him to reconsider. He couldn’t be more gallant about it all. Came round to fiddle with her dishwasher when it broke down. Offered to mow the lawn. Looked radiantly happy. Life with his young lithe wife certainly agreed with him. Isa swallowed her tears and ran to the CD player to put on Adele when he’d left for his new home.
© Renée Koopman