I’ve been quite happily married for over fifty years so the thought of ever dating again rarely comes to mind for me. Still, I have friends in my age group who have become single again who are embarking on late life romances that appear to be quite successful. My Aunt Polly married again when she was in her seventies as did my father-in-law. Both found new love after their long time spouses had died.
My preference would be to have my Mike around until I’m so old that my own heavenly reward is looming and the idea of dating someone and falling in love again would not be worth the time and effort. If something were to happen to my beloved while I am still somewhat young and active I’m still not so sure that I would be up to the task of dating again. I always found dating even when I was young to be a rather stressful endeavor, at least until I found persons who were a good fit with my own quirky personality.
I’ve always been an exceedingly independent woman, liberated long before that term was used by the media. I suppose my personality evolved from living in a home with a single mom. I saw the challenges that she faced but also the freedom that she enjoyed. She got to be exactly the kind of person that she wanted to be and to live her life the way she wished. Her decisions became her own and she liked being able to make them. Nothing held her back but her own imagination except for a brief period of time when she was dating a man who became very jealous and abusive toward her. She literally unravelled before escaping from his grip.
Don’t get me wrong. I see the happiness of my father-in-law with his second bride, a woman quite different from his first love, but a sweet and caring woman who snatched the loneliness away from his hours. They have fun together and share their golden years with a quiet routine of understanding. I see their relationship as a beautiful thing so I know it is quite possible to find a new kind of love after the first one is gone.
My problem is my own personality and the fact that I have settled into a quiet agreement with my Mike in which he allows all of my foibles to exist and flourish. I need my quiet time in the morning for gathering my thoughts and enjoying my writing. He makes his own breakfast and does his own thing while I slowly greet the day in my own way. We are both comfortable and understanding in our routines. He encourages me to continue my teaching on a part time basis because he knows how much it means to me. In fact he has always been that way, supporting me through continuing education that often took me away from time with him while I attended classes and studied. Ours is an equal partnership built on mutual respect and admiration. He does his thing and I do mine. We are so in tune with one another that we can complete each other’s sentences and we often have exactly the same thought at the same time. We can laugh at a joke that has not even been uttered just by observing a situation. Life is fun together while still feeling so free.
I see couples in my age group that are so traditional that the woman mostly defers to the thinking and demands of the man. They are not abusive but there is a kind of tediousness about them. In other cases I observe women who so dominate the men that the word “henpecked” comes to mind. I find myself thinking that if something were to happen to Mike I would not be willing to risk being caught up in a relationship that would feel constricting and uncomfortable. Perhaps I might be willing to have a gentleman companion now and again but even that kind of arrangement can come with far too many complications. That’s why I find myself leaning more toward a Golden Girls kind of existence if I one day found myself alone.
I’ve watched friends get together with other women, either their sisters or daughters or friends and forge a fabulous life. My former neighbor Betty went to live in a house next door to her daughter. For a time her roommate was her sister. The house was designed to give each of them a private wing with a central area of cooking, eating and entertaining. Betty was so happy with the arrangement and eventually ended up sharing it with one of her daughters. It seemed liked a perfect situation to me.
I have another long time friend who recently purchased a house with a woman that she has known since they were teens. Both of them had lived in different cities during their working years building wonderful careers. When they retired they decided that it would be nice to have someone in the house with whom to enjoy the hours no longer determined by work. Like Betty they found a home that allows them to each have a private area but also a central location for coming together. They have distributed the household duties based on their particular likes and skills.
My daughters and their friend Lisa, who is like a third daughter to me, often dream of building a family compound in which each of us have a small home where we can do our own things but close enough to watch over each other. They have shared photos of tiny houses and immense estates. They’ve considered islands and cabins in the mountains. We all constantly joke about such an arrangement and attempt to decide who is who in this Golden Girls dream that I actually find the concept quite appealing.
Then there was my grandfather who was the founder of the Three’s Company idea. When he was ninety years old he rented a room from a recent widow of age sixty five. For the next eighteen years he lived in her tiny home along with her sister. They had great fun together and he ultimately considered the two women to be like daughters. Since he was actually the healthiest member of the group he often took care of them. It was a great way to spend his final years in comfort and without the anxieties of living along.
At my age the possibility of losing my husband is real. I shudder at the very thought but wonder in the back of my mind how I would deal with such a thing. Certainly the idea of dating again is difficult to even imagine. On the other hand I do like the sound of a different way of living. Maybe I can find some women who would like to create a late life dorm in my home or perhaps that imagined compound will become a reality. All I know is that it’s way too late to ask me to change my ways and adapt to a new man.