Two Heroic Love Stories, for these Dreamy Olympic Days

Glenn, my jolly Danish friend who happens to be in his mid-90s, just emailed to offer me his three set collection of 50 Shades of Gray. The last set he lent me, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, left me immobile for weeks. So this time I turned him down nicely.

And yet, romance seems to be in the summer air, along with the 2012 Olympics, which makes for a dreamy sort of effect. And I have been seeing and hearing about romance everywhere I turn lately, particularly involving the over-80 set.

On NPR this morning, I learned about Lena Henderson and Roland Davis of Buffalo, NY, a divorced couple whose second spouses have both passed away. They recently realized that they still care for each another.

Yes, at 85 years old, Lena and Roland reconnected, and came to the common understanding that they need each other in new and familiar ways, 48 years after their divorce. So they are getting married again and doing it up big this time, with four generations of family in the mix.

Now I’m a child of divorced parents, so I may be projecting here, but I think the coolest thing about your mom remarrying your dad almost 5 decades after their divorce (at the age of 85), is that your family can relive that relationship again, hopefully in a good and healing way. And the family can relax a little knowing that mom and dad now have someone looking after them on an everyday basis.

This story reminds me of a long-term romance I only began to understand at a funeral I attended not so long ago. As we all stood at the gravesite of our beloved friend (about whom I wrote in Aging Our Way), a woman who passed away just shy of 100 years old, I glimpsed a small elderly man off to the side, away from the crowd. When I greeted him and he introduced himself, it suddenly dawned on me, who this man was. He was the the one she didn’t want us to know about. Her secret friend. The one who called and delivered kosher chickens, but never when we were around. The one she referred to very quickly, too private to share more. The only other one who visited her in the nursing home.

That day at her gravesite, I met her secret caretaker. I saw it in the twinkle of his eyes. I’m guessing nobody else was in on the secret, but us three.

So, in these long dreamy August Olympic days, as we watch the youth of the world live out their dreams (or not), let’s not forget the love stories of their grandparents, heroic and mysterious (and flawed) in their own right.

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Meika Loe

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