Sunday, 17 February 2013

#341: Late Life Romance

Before the spirit of Valentine's Day evaporates completely, I feel I should point out that the plot of Quartet (the subject of my Silver Screen post), though unrealistic in many respects, does hinge on a late life romance that is entirely plausible.  When the two older opera stars (one half of the quartet) meet again, make up, and fall in love once more, we are completely convinced.  We know this can happen. 

The New York Times recently featured just such a story in their Modern Love column. Contributor Eve Pell writes about her relationship with Sam whom she first spotted at her San Francisco running club (I love that detail).  She was 68 and he was 10 years older.  She contrived to meet him, they hit it off, and soon they were more than running partners. This is such a sweet story, both happy and sad, and it reminded me of my mother and the man she met when I wasn't looking.

In 1982, I encouraged my widowed, 69 year-old-mother to move from Edmonton to Guelph.  She had been here one year when we announced our sabbatical plans.  We chose to spend the year in Edmonton (where our in laws lived), and my mother was left to her own devices. I felt as if we had abandoned her.

I should not have worried. I returned at the end of our time away to discover that she had met someone special.  Bill Butler was a widowed, retired, 80-year old manufacturer who was looking for a housekeeper, and my mother applied for the job.  Those who knew Sally are floored by this detail.  (Eve Pell, at least, was a runner, but my mother was no housekeeper.)  But she was cute and smart, and read the Business section of the Globe and Mail every day. Bill was smitten.

I was barely back in Ontario when I got a call from my mother.  "Bill and I want to go away for a weekend up north, but I don't think he should pick me up at my apartment.  I have neighbours who would gossip."  So I picked up Mum for her illicit weekend, and she and Bill left from my house. I doubt our neighbours noticed anything at all, but if they did, I hope they were thinking, as I was: "Go Sally, Go!"

Sally and Bill were married in our living room, and they moved down the road to Cambridge where Bill had lived previously.  They bought a condo, furnished it, and hired a cleaning lady.  My 70 year-old mother learned to drive. She and Bill spent two happy winters in Florida, and that is where he had his first heart attack. They were together for only three years, but it was a happy time for both. You can't hope for much more when Cupid pays a final visit.

Another chance for romance?  Just give thanks.

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