Traci Lindsten
4 min readJun 18, 2020



Many readers have asked for a progress report on my 81-year old mother’s budding relationship. I will tell you that there have been days of extremes as she grapples with her fears. It’s been difficult to continue the saga, as I feel I am exposing her inner most thoughts and emotions. These are private things. Looking back, I am glad that only the beginning was shared. It’s still a sweet story, but continuing to violate her trust, negates the beauty.

So, here’s what I will share.

They had their first “pizza date”. It was awkward. Later, Mom said, it’s not going to work out. She told me that after their first date, when she found out he had never ordered a pizza in his life, that she couldn’t deal with the “backwards thing.” Joe on the other hand, wasn’t “getting it as not working out” and continued to call and show up, which really ticked off my Mother. Patience is not one of her virtues and she hates being told what to do by a man. (Geez, does that run in the family?) She finally told him to back off, in no uncertain terms. After two weeks or so, I am thinking, “well, this is a bust.” She spoke of him less and less.

Here’s the thing, some history, if you will. My parents retired in Decatur, Illinois, after 50+ years in Colorado, where all their kids were raised. Decatur is the third fastest shrinking city in America. There is nothing there, but hey, it’s the Soy Capital of the World. Wheeee! And, it’s RED. I mean RED, RED. People here think Trump is the Messiah. However, you can buy a mansion in Decatur for what a garage would cost in Denver. They got more bang for their retirement buck. One of my brothers also lived there when they retired. Mom went through her high school years there, so she has friends, too.

My mother is hip, smart, savvy, and progressive. She’s independent to a fault. She works on a computer and can ZOOM. She plays mental games and listens to books on tape. She goes the library with the discipline of a Good Catholic going to mass. She is the antithesis of what 90% of Decatur’s population represents or believes in politically, morally, and any other way you can think. My stepdad was the same way, so they kept their sanity by always talking to each other about democratic things or tolerance of gays or women’s rights. He spoke five languages and was one of the most well-read people, I have ever known. When he passed, she was much the outcast for being so independent. Not that it bothers her, she tells the girls on their Thursday lunches just what she thinks. She has been known to use the “F” word to make point! All this aside, I know she misses intellectual stimulation, though.

Since Dad’s death, I talk to her almost every day. We discuss the Orange Shite Gibbon (aka The Tool) and she regales me with tales of what items she threw at the TV each day, when he came on. I am a politics wonk. Major. I will talk politics until I pass out from sleep deprivation. Mom can talk to me about anything politics. Sometimes, to keep her brain going, I will take an uncharacteristic viewpoint and argue with her. Keeps her melon good…if you know what I mean.

I provide you with all the above information, to help you obtain an understanding of how this is really progressing.

Today I called Mom in between meetings. She sounds like she is outside, and she adapts to “that voice.” I call it that because it means she is not alone. She does the Mom fantastic, fake voice thing. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just what she does, and it cracks me up every time. Immediately, I ask her if she is at the library or grocery store, never once guessing she was on a date. She says, No, with some hesitation. Then she says, I’m at Steak N Shake with Joe. She got nervous quickly and said to Joe, “Say hi to my daughter, Traci.” It was weird. He said Hello and I returned the greeting. I told her not to worry, that I was just checking in, and I would call her later.

She instead called me this evening, after he went home. I asked her if she had a vanilla shake for me and she informed me that she had chocolate. All the while carefully avoiding the whole “Joe” thing. Finally, she said, he came over to help me bring some items up from the basement. That’s great, I said. I thought you didn’t want to see him anymore and that he bugged you. Well, she said, I am learning more about him.

She proceeded to tell me that he listened to NPR, which surprised her. He didn’t understand why people didn’t accept gays. He told her a story about someone he served with in the military that was a good worker and good friend but was drummed out of the Corp in disgrace because he was gay. He never forgot that and always carried tolerance in his heart since that day. He touched on several life issues that were near to Mom’s heart and she was shocked. On and on she went. I was surprised but happy. She ended with, “he is a really nice man that would do anything for someone.” Basically, she is starting to like him as a person and not just as arm candy…or the immediate lust connection.

Now, this is a guess on my part, but I think there is more to this than meets the eye. Despite her protests to the contrary.

I am not going to write about it anymore unless the two hooligans run off and get married — OR — she kills him, and I must bail her out of jail for murder.

We’ll have to wait and see.