It's Never Too Late For LOVE
by Sheila White
When your mate has passed on, you are understandably grief-stricken. You’ve had many wonderful years together and now you’re alone with only memories to comfort you during the long days and nights ahead. What is the use of living when there is no one to love or to love you back? Why bother even getting up in the morning?
Those of us who have lost a loving mate know the feeling well. When my George died two years ago, I decided that I’d give life another four years, until my 90th birthday. I have considerable pain and can’t go far without a walker. I have trouble swallowing and mainly eat soup. My girlish figure up and left years ago. And I’m almost bald. Looking around at the inhabitants of the seniors’ facility where I live, I’m horrified to see others my age and younger losing their memories, falling and breaking hips, dealing with failing eyesight and hearing, and I feared those things would happen to me. I didn’t like the idea one bit.
George and I moved here 9 years ago and for six years we were contented. We both had volunteer jobs that kept us busy and interested, and we met and mingled with others aged 60+ quite happily. One of my jobs was to write short biographies of incoming tenants and residents and one day I visited with Bill, an MS patient in long-term care, who had recently lost his wife.
When I met him I found out he and George had worked for the same company at one time, so were acquainted. As he told me his story, I felt great admiration for the way he handled his disabilities and never complained or was bitter about the blow Fate had dealt him. He maintained a good sense of humor and this drew people towards him, both men and women, and to me that was admirable. The story I wrote couldn’t help but have a positive slant.
A year later, my husband became ill with prostate cancer. The disease progressed quite fast. He was incontinent and his memory failed. It wasn’t long until he moved into long-term care so that he could have some nursing care and I could have some freedom from the stress of looking after him. And then he died. He was just 90 years old. I was eighty-six.
It was then I decided that 90 should be my own cut-off age. For a year or so I carried on but without any enthusiasm for life. I stopped my writing and other volunteer activities. My aches and pains grew worse and I looked forward to an end of it all. I didn’t know how my death would come about, but I knew it would be a relief.
Then one day two years later I came out of my apartment and there was Bill. He was sitting by the elevator that serviced the wing of long-term care where he lived. He teased me that he now knew where I lived and could come and visit me. I teased back and told him he was welcome anytime. I’m sure we both came away smiling.
As time went by, we met by chance several times and continued the teasing, until one day I challenged him to make good his promise. It took a while, but one day my phone rang and it was Bill. He wanted to see me and could he come that evening? And, of course, I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t WANT to refuse. The more I’d seen of him, the more I liked him. And so it started.
Nine months later, we are committed to each other. No, we don’t want to marry. We both had excellent marriages with spouses that could not be duplicated.
What we have now is something else, something special. After long talks and a few visits, we are delighted to find we are emotionally and intellectually suited, and it’s wonderful to once again share those private thoughts and ideas that only a very special person can understand and relate to.
The result? Bill says he is truly happy for the first time in years.
Each day he has something to look forward to, and I can echo that. The love that I feel is mirrored back to me from friends and neighbors and I no longer consider that my 90th birthday will be my last. Bill is eight years younger than I am, but we shrug at that. For us life can go on and be wonderful while we are still able to enjoy each other’s company.
We know the end will come for one of us eventually and when it does, the other one will be there, holding hands. And that’s a promise.
Wendy: WOW.. What an inspirational story! Thanks ever so much for sharing!