Here, Chelsea Parkinson, 28, tells the story in her own words.
W￼hirring, the printer spat out my uni assignment, just as my dad, Gavin, walked into his office. Studying to be a vet nurse, I was forever popping into the car yard he owned to print my work. ‘I’m going to rent out one of the spare office rooms,’ Dad shared. ‘Who to?’ I asked. ‘Craig – the English financial advisor, you’ve met him before,’ Dad said.
Racking my brain, it twigged. ‘That grumpy guy!?’ I exclaimed. I’d been helping out Dad answering the phone when a middle-aged bloke had approached the front desk. ‘Is your Dad here?’ he’d asked, in a short tone. God, what’s up with him? I’d wondered. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Turned out, Craig was hilarious! Getting to know him, I discovered that, like me, he loved to crack inappropriate jokes, his eyes sparkling cheekily. We got on like a house on fire, even though, at 50, he was married with grown-up kids and I was a 20-year-old student. Gentle and kind, I’d share my worries with Craig, too. ‘I don’t think I got an A on my exam,’ I’d groan. With a friendly smile, he’d lighten the mood.
Suddenly, I found myself talking about him all the time. ‘You’ll never guess what Craig said today!’ I’d tell my friends, laughing as I remembered an outrageous gag he’d made. ‘You’re obsessed with him!’ my best friend, Noele, replied one day. ‘I am not!’ I blurted back. Deep down, I knew she was right. I’d hear something hilarious and my first thought would be, Craig would love that! He’s married! I reminded myself. Besides, he was four years older than Dad. Although that didn’t really bother me, I’d always been attracted to mature men. I’d known Craig for about two years when he got divorced and something shifted between us. My visits to the car yard were no longer enough. Speaking on the phone for hours, we were still just friends. I wanted more, but I was confused. ‘I can’t tell if he likes me,’ I confessed to Noele.
Both golf lovers, Craig and I began to hit the green on Sundays, sharing a bottle of wine afterwards. Sparks flew and one day we kissed. We never had ‘the chat,’ agreeing to be in a relationship. Suddenly we just were an item. And I didn’t tell anyone aside from my bestie. To keep our secret, we’d drive nearly two hours away to have lunch. Strolling down the street one day with my man, my mum, Leigh, and my step-dad, Jonathan, walked towards us. ‘Chelsea!’ she exclaimed, glancing at my sidekick. ‘I ran into Craig so we’re going for a quick drink,’ I fibbed, feeling terrible. I spent less time at the car yard, but when I was there Craig and I behaved normally. I wish I could tell Dad... I thought. I was happier than ever, yet I felt like I had to keep it close to my chest. I knew my parents would find our relationship difficult to understand, but I couldn’t grasp why. We were in love and that was all that mattered!
There was a 30-year age gap between us, but no-one ever commented on it. If anything, strangers would jump the gun and refer to me as Craig’s wife! Moving in together in January 2016, there was no hiding our love anymore. Soon, word spread and my family knew the truth. I’d expected Mum to flip out, but it was Dad who struggled. He feels like he’s the last to know... I realised. If I could’ve turned back the clock and been honest with him, I would have in a heartbeat.
Already a dad, Craig thought his nappy changing days were over. But he quickly changed his tune. ‘I’m not going to be around forever – I’d like to leave you with a piece of me,’ he said. The thought of losing him one day was terrifying. I’d rather ten incredible years than twenty average ones... I thought. I found out I was pregnant in early December 2016. Wrapping up the stick and tying it up with a pretty bow, I tucked it away in Craig’s Christmas stocking as a special gift. Too excited to wait, I told him to take a look before Christmas day even arrived! ‘Wow,’ Craig grinned. We were on holiday when my man proposed. ‘I guess you’ve passed your probation!’ he winked, always a joker.
Last July, our son, Jude, was born and he was the spitting image of his Daddy. ‘He looks so much like his old man!’ everyone exclaims. Besotted, Craig, whose just had his 58th birthday, can’t get enough of his mini-me.
Now eight months, Jude is a sweetie who loves music and animals. And, in August, he’ll have a little brother! With my kind, dependable and loving fiancé by my side, I feel like we can conquer the world. ‘You’ve never let me down,’ I tell him. With a bond like ours, age truly is just a number.
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