I just spent a delightful day in the company of a close friend, a widow, who told me with stars in her eyes that she “met someone.” Both my friend and her new beau are in their seventies, but as she described their meeting she said it was as if she were thirteen again—all the same butterflies flitting around inside her! The “sweet nothings” they whisper to one another may have to be spoken a bit more loudly at this age, she confessed. And instead of getting-acquainted questions like “what’s your sign?” it’s more likely “are you on any medications?” But the sparkle in her eyes and the giggle in her voice told me this is true love all the same.
Is it ever too late for love? I don’t think so. Many years ago my mom was also in her seventies when she began a long companionship with Cecil, a dear family friend. He had lost his wife and my dad had passed away. The two couples had known one another since junior high. Mom and Cecil kept being asked to the same social gatherings, so eventually he said, “There’s no reason for both of us to drive. I’ll swing by and pick you up.” Thus began a 15-year relationship that nurtured them both.
My sisters and I were very fond of Cecil. Our families had vacationed in Florida together many times over the years, so we already thought of him as a second dad. He was extremely witty, and we quickly welcomed him to family gatherings. We would not have minded one bit had Mom and Cecil decided to take the next step and get married, but they never did. Theirs was a platonic love, but a true one.
And the benefits of their relationship were many. They looked forward to seeing one another and having a reason to get dressed up. I’m sure they both ate more nutritiously than either would have without the other, as my mom would cook a real meal once or twice a week when Cecil came over—usually to watch a University of Tennessee ball game—and they had a standing date for brunch after church.
“We don’t even have to tell each other entire jokes,” Mom said the day she called to let me know what was going on with Cecil (lest I hear rumors of impropriety!). “We know all the same jokes, so one of us just remembers a punch line and we have a good laugh!”
Many seniors would be open to late-in-life love but aren’t sure how to meet someone if they don’t have a lifelong connection like my mom and Cecil shared. Some actually have success with online dating sites, but more likely they connect through a mutual acquaintance or a shared interest. Other couples reconnect at a 50th or 60th high school reunion, after both are single again, and pick up right where they left off—although not as likely in the back of the pick up! Psychologists explain that the spark of “first love” is one that is easily rekindled, and every summer this romantic phenomenon plays out around punch bowls in gymnasiums from coast to coast. This gives new meaning to the phrase “take my hand again” that I’ve been using to refer to adults helping aging parents.
Is it ever too late for love? I think not. As for me, I’ll stick with the love I married when I was forty. A good man is hard to find at any age.
Portions of this blog post are excerpted from the author’s book, Take My Hand Again, Kregel Publications, 2015.