The other day, my friend Tracy told me a story about her elderly dad, Ira, who, when Tracy was a toddler in the late 60’s, took up with a neighbor named Lolita (I’m not kidding) and divorced Tracy’s mother in order to marry this woman. Naturally, I was all ears at this point, since you know any story about husband stealing involving a woman named Lolita is gonna be juicy.

Shockingly, Tracy and her sisters did not especially appreciate their new stepmother. Whether it was the fact that Lolita had so effortlessly broken up their parents’ marriage (as Tracy said about Lolita’s m.o., “If you don’t have a home, wreck one”) or the fact that Lolita wanted nothing to do with her new husband’s daughters, who she sent to live with their natural mother, there wasn’t a lot of Cumbaya going on.

Lolita and Ira remained married, and they’re now elderly and infirmed. A few years ago, Lolita talked Ira into turning over complete control of his money to her, apparently realizing that if anything happened to Ira, and the girls got involved, she’d be wintering in a Kenmore box.

Last year, Tracy and her sisters decided that their dad and “that woman” (as Tracy lovingly refers to her) could no longer live on their own. Because Ira and Lolita live in another country and will not move to the U.S. where the girls live, Tracy found a lovely nursing home there, and Ira dutifully prepared for this change of life.

Lolita, however, was having none of it. She declared that the home they had selected was a “s***hole” and that if she was going into assisted living, it would be at the facility of  her choosing. She found another, much more expensive home and announced to Ira that THIS would be where they were going.

Ira is a non-confrontational man. Which might explain how he ended up with a woman like Lolita in the first place. But for the first time in his life, he stood up to her, and simply said, “Go wherever you want. I’m going to the home Tracy picked.”

And go, he did. Alone.

Lolita was incensed. They have never spoken since. And curiously, Ira has been blissfully happy in the retirement home.

Then, recently, their longtime maid (who adored Ira) came to visit him, hat in hand. “I owe you an apology,” she said. “I’ve been harboring a secret, and it’s killing me.” she then told Ira a story.

Once Lolita got control of the money, she secretly put it into an account in the maid’s name. It wasn’t a loving gesture intended to reward the maid for her many years of service; it was to insure that, if anything happened to Lolita, Ira would never get a penny of it back.

Shortly thereafter, Tracy came to visit Ira. He’s 91 now, nearly blind and barely able to walk, but not too old, apparently, to learn a life lesson.

“It took me 45 years,” he said softly to Tracy as he squeezed her hand wistfully, “to finally see the truth.” He looked up at her with rheumy eyes. “I’ve gotta start picking better women.”