I recently read "Younger Next Year," by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge. The most stringent rule is to exercise six days a week. Well, it may inspire me to miss fewer days for my mile walk each morning.
Other firm advice: Join a gym. Nope. Swim. Nope. I'd probably drown. Get a personal trainer for twice-weekly strength training. Good idea.
And then there's this piece of advice: Have a healthy sex life. Now there's one rule I'd love to follow — but it's not easy. Men my age (87) are few and far between.
Twelve years ago Bob died after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. We'd been married 54 years and I'd never lived alone before. To my amazement, I loved it.
I dated a little, but nothing very productive or exciting. I briefly considered signing up for Senior Singles, but that sounded like far too much work. I decided I didn't need anyone.
Then, Dave, an acquaintance, emailed to tell me of his wife's death. She had been a college friend of mine. We struck up an email correspondence and a year or so later I invited him "with or without family" to visit me for a few days. This seemed pretty normal to me. I've met people on the street in Europe and invited them to visit. I like company.
When he decided to take me up on my offer, I thought, this could be interesting. I actually knew nothing about this man. He was 93, for Pete's sake. What condition was he in? Could he make it up the stairs to the guest room? Should I dig Bob's walker out of the attic?
I realized this was pretty crazy. But so is skydiving and paragliding, and each of these activities was worth doing — once. This visit could be a fun experience too.
We had a lovely time. His first comment after I picked him up at John Wayne Airport was, "So what do your kids think of a strange man visiting you?"
"I certainly didn't mention it to them," I replied. (I have five kids; he has three.)
We talked as I drove home. We talked all afternoon. We spent time catching up on what each of us knew about mutual friends from long ago. He showed me photos of his family and I reciprocated. It was the start of a wonderful, delightful stay. (Turned out he had no trouble navigating stairs. He's six years older than I am but walks as fast as I do.)
By the third day, he kissed me lightly a couple of times. Before he left, he said, "I like you," and kissed me soundly. I thought…. Hmmm. Occasional visits would be delightful.
Three weeks after he left, I called 911. I was having trouble breathing. I remember thinking this would ruin any chance of seeing Dave again. No heart attack, I was relieved to know, but pneumonia was diagnosed and I spent four days in the hospital. Dave wouldn't want a relationship with a decrepit old lady, so I didn't even contact him for several days. When I finally did, I was amazed at his caring response.
We started daily emails and phone calls. He commented that if I decided to visit him, I'd have a choice of a bed by myself — or I could sleep with him.
His emails were lovely.
The week we spent together in Colorado was one of the best weeks of my life. (I chose his bed.)
He's very affectionate. He's funny. He's just plain agreeable. We're both amazed that we're getting this second chance. We decided he'd move in with me this past May 9.
To celebrate, my book group threw a lingerie shower. I assured them I'm not really into thongs, but I loved it.
One evening Dave and I decided to try out my jet tub. We soaked in very hot water for a while. Only problem — we couldn't get out! We struggled mightily, and started laughing, which didn't help. Calling 911 would be too embarrassing. Finally he managed to get out, and helped me.
We now have grab bars.
His daughter-in-law's response to hearing about me, "At least you can't get her pregnant." (She and the rest of our kids are beautifully accepting.)
Dave's easy to live with. I cook and he cleans up. He even fixes things occasionally and remembers to water the tomatoes.
We're now planning our Commitment Ceremony party for this Sunday.
We expect 90 to 100 friends to join us in our backyard in Buena Park. Music will include Frank Sinatra singing "September Song."
We're both healthy, we eat our vegetables, and we exercise. In fact, Danielle (our Torture Lady trainer) comes each Monday and Wednesday. My dad lived to 107. Dave and I hope for at least five or 10 years together. Whatever, we have today, and today is wonderful!
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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