49: Never Too Old

49: Never Too Old

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

Never Too Old

For ’mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renewed.

~Author Unknown

My heart was racing as I put down the phone. What was I thinking? A male friend at my age? I scarcely knew what to say when my grandson asked me, “Grandma, do you have a boyfriend?” Yet, I could not deny that Ted made me feel special again. Talking to him on the phone stirred up feelings that I thought were dead. We had gone to high school together and then went very separate ways. Though we had never been close, a common bond of grief now brought us together with a new understanding of mature friendship.

We had both lost our mates.

We e-mailed each other almost every day. Eventually, gifts, cards, and flowers began to arrive. Then one day he showed up at my door and asked me out.

What would my children think? What would my friends say? My beloved husband of forty-eight years had passed away four years earlier. Though I loved him with every fiber of my being, I could not bring him back. It was time to let go. The past is lovely, filled with tender memories, but it is a desolate place to live.

I tearfully removed my wedding rings and put them away. It was not a one-time process. The action was repeated off and on for two years before I finally was able to be at peace with it.

“I have a decision to make,” I’d explained to my children. “I can go on crying my life away or I can step out of my comfort zone and take a chance on living and possibly loving again.”

Their immediate response had been, “Go for it! You have a right to be happy. Dad wouldn’t want you to live in pain.”

Another friend had said, “It is impossible to go forward if you are constantly looking back.”

Even armed with that affirmation, the process of courting at seventy is a little like hunting with a dog that has lost his sense of smell. Ted had rented one of those hearse-sized, four-door trucks standing high off the ground. He apologized for the obvious overkill of the size of the vehicle, but it was all that was available from the local car rental. He gallantly opened the door and watched in painful silence as I struggled to make the leap inside. He flailed his arms at my clumsy attempt to get lift off, not knowing quite where to put his hands to boost me in.

Once inside we sat quietly trying to regain our dignity.

As we drove down the freeway to the nearest big city, where we planned to dine in style, I began to ponder the wisdom of riding in a vehicle with a guy who mentioned that he was considering cataract surgery. It was no comfort that he was still wearing the bright yellow sunglasses that covered most of his face, even though it was dark outside. I discretely suggested that we might be just as well served by dining at a restaurant close by.

He readily agreed, though it meant that the place would be full of locals, all curious to see who the widow woman was with, who he was related to, and why he was in town. Ted put up with all the gawking and probing with good-natured humor. I guess he thought no one could really see him behind those glasses and by the time they had him figured out he would be out of town. To his credit, he must have decided that I was worth the scrutiny, because he was back the next day and every day until he had to fly home.

We discussed many important topics, such as long-term health care plans, retirement funds, children, grandchildren, religion, politics — and fiber. We decided that love is not exclusive. It has many facets. It expands to fill the expectations put upon it and rather than diminish the past, embraces it.

He likes documentaries. I like feature films. He likes fish. I like steak. I am the land. He is the sea. There is much to learn, much to process, and much to gain. We have only begun this new journey but this I can tell you: Love at any age is sweet.

~Kay Thomann

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