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‘Just don’t tell me you’re a Republican and ruin it.’

After the death of her husband of 33 years, Sylvia Joseph met Joseph Horenstein at a social meeting of widows and widowers two years ago. They dated, they married, and now Sylvia Joseph-Horenstein and her husband, Joe, live in Woodland Hills.

Paul’s death was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I’ve lost siblings, and I’ve lost my parents, but it’s nothing like losing a spouse. There is such a total loss. I felt so abandoned and so alone, even though my children and close friends were there.

I went to a few support group meetings, and they told me there was a social group called The Common Bond. They went on trips and dinner and theater parties, and that sounded like it might be kind of fun. So I called up a friend of mine who was also recently widowed, and we talked about it, and we said, “Yeah, OK, we’ll go.”

I signed in “Sylvia Joseph,” and this man was looking at me. He heard the name Joseph, so he came over and he said, “Well, isn’t that strange, your last name is the same as my first name.” My friend, Faye, kept saying, “He’s hitting on you, he’s hitting on you.” And I said, “What does that mean?” She said, “He likes you.” I said, “Oh, come on. I just walked in.”

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We sat together, and he brought me a Coca-Cola. Inside of about five minutes, I knew all about him. He told me his wife had been sick and died, he had re-married about 4 1/2 years ago, and he was recently divorced. And he didn’t have much money. I mean, he was so basic and so honest. Then we went out for coffee afterward, and I thought, “What if he says he wants to see me?”

He took my name and address and phone number, and he gave me his name, address and phone number also. That was on Monday, which was exactly two months since Paul had died. And he called on Wednesday evening

You have the same thoughts you had when you were a kid. What will I do if he wants to hold my hand at the movie? Will he ask to kiss me good night or will he just kiss me good night? If he does, what should I do? If he doesn’t what should I do? You remember the way you felt when you were 16 and 17. They’re the identical same feelings. The anxieties and the sweats. It’s really weird.

He invited me out Friday for lunch, the movies and dinner. We went to lunch and the movies out at this end of town, and then he said, “Do you mind if we stop at my house? I have to feed the dog.” All I could think of was in the olden days it used to be, “Would you like to come up to my apartment and see my etchings?”

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I said, “Well, what the hell.” So we walked in, and I sat down, and I didn’t move from the spot. He fed the dog and said, “Would you like to go to dinner now?” That’s exactly what happened. He took me to feed the dog. So then I started thinking, “I guess maybe he doesn’t find me too attractive.” He didn’t make a pass, and here I am in his home. I suppose that’s a typical female reaction. The guy is damned if he does, and he’s damned if he doesn’t.

That was Friday, and then he said, “Can I see you tomorrow?” We saw each other every day after that.

He was just so understanding. Many times, you know, I just started crying for no reason, and he’d hold me. I didn’t have to tell him why I was crying, he knew. My kids were really delighted that I was dating. On our third date we were riding somewhere and I just looked at him, and I said, “Just don’t tell me you’re a Republican and ruin it.” He didn’t.

We met in June, and I moved in with Joe in November, and then we got married in January. Joe has taught me how to take risks. When we first met, he said you’ll have to take a chance, if you don’t take risks you end up doing nothing. He’s given me a lot of self-esteem and made me realize that I am a worthy person. He showed me that I am a beautiful person inside and outside. What more can you ask for?

I don’t know whether you can say he’s my type. I never did know what that meant, even when I was a kid. All I know is it just seems like we’ve known each other for years and years and years, and he’s just part of my life, all of my life.


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