Shortly after I turned 70, my husband of nearly 50 years died as a result of a major stroke that happened 13 months earlier. Our marriage was rocky; Twice I asked for a divorce, but each time we sought counseling and stayed together. I’m glad we did, because I was able to take care of him part-time during his illness.
In the weeks and months following her passing, I focused on time with friends, classes (in opera and art history appreciation, and in film as in literature), spending time with my daughter and her family, and spending time with my family. Enjoyed by two grandchildren. That was enough in the beginning. It took me almost two years to realize that I wanted a male partner again. I knew I didn’t want to remarry or even be with someone else. I was happy with my freedom and independence and the activities I began to engage in.
I just wanted a “friend with benefits”.
I joined Jdate and then Match.com. I’ve made it through several one-day experiences that might warrant a sitcom (or “how-to” handbook) of their own.
One man clearly wanted someone to invest in his new business. I woke up and walked out to lunch at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach.
Another date talked endlessly about their “weird” sex life. He was sitting on my couch when he asked me if I liked being tied up and blindfolded. (Not that these things bothered me so much that we had only just started dating and had never even been intimate. It was too early for that sort of thing.) I told her to leave.
I almost went on a date with the fine guy who came to replace my kitchen faucet. He beat me for a while and finally accepted that he was married. I showed him the door and then hired someone else to do the rest of the work in my condo.
I had high hopes from another man. We went on our first date on New Year’s Day 2020. We continued dating for a few months, but seeing each other during COVID-19 when we couldn’t enjoy activities like movies, restaurants and other diversions made me realize that his “silly” was actually in his personality. There were major flaws. (He was boring. He didn’t vote, cared little about politics. And I had to do all the planning; he never suggested anything.)
Eventually, after a few months off, I broke up with him. I didn’t have any regrets. I didn’t want a relationship that offered so little. I was happy with myself again. I took my profile off those two dating sites and spent the rest of the year sitting outside without meeting anyone else.
As pandemic precautions were slowly lifted earlier this year, however, I took a chance and joined a dating site for the 50-plus set called SilverSingles. I put in some new pictures of myself and what I thought was a good profile.
Two residents who live in the same senior community as I answered. I went out with each of them once. There was no spark with the first one. I planned another date with the other gentleman but I found out that he had a problem “keeping in touch” between dates. He didn’t call, text, or email me once after our first date, so it was going to be a full eight days before our planned second date. When I sent him a message asking why I didn’t hear from him, he replied that he only believed in face-to-face conversations. I told him that our second date is going to be like the first date again as we have not progressed in getting to know each other.
I decided to break up that second date.
By this time, I’ve had enough. I was done with online dating. But the day I last went to delete my account, I found a new profile waiting for me. His name was Mark. There was a gleam in his eyes; Her smile was childish – broad and natural.
In his profile, he mentioned things that matched what I was looking for in a relationship. Many of his interests mirrored my own; We both enjoyed plants and gardening and getting out in nature. He followed politics. very. I sent him a message. Not 20 minutes later, I got a pleasant response. Over the next few days and weeks, we would learn that we had a lot in common. We even lived near each other in LA at one time. We were also able to open up about losing our partner after a long marriage (he was divorced). When I told him I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, he offered to teach me how to enjoy cycling again. His sense of humor was broken by his words. I was infatuated with him, just as he was by me.
Before long, we planned our first date: I invited her for a walk around Aliso Creek in South Orange County. When we finally met, we immediately, and without any shame or hesitation, threw our arms around each other and hugged.
Although we had planned only for a walk that morning, we ended up having lunch together and talking for hours. Everything just clicked. By the end of that first date, we knew something special had begun. We were on the fast track to falling in love.
All this happened eight months ago. We agreed that, at our age, if the relationship is good, we should embrace it and every moment that came our way.
He’s remodeling a new home, and much to my delight I’ve been constantly invited to help him choose the light fixtures, sink, faucet, and more. Home Depot has never been such a romantic place before. Candles are not required. A kiss while looking at a potential ceiling fan to buy, holding hands while walking down the toilet aisle…
At 75, I’m having the time of my life again giving and receiving love.
The author writes a monthly column in The Globe, the local newspaper for the Laguna Woods Village retirement community, and has written several poems and short stories.
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