- Gender and Relationships
I Found the "Love of My Life" at age 60
I never thought I’d be sixty years old before I would find “the love of my life”. My only goal growing up in Rutland, Vermont was to find my “one and only”, marry and have children. I thought women who wanted a career were like “nuns”; they had “a calling”. I planned a wedding for each season; my winter version featured a velvet gown with leg- of- mutton sleeves and lute players. I named my unborn children.
Of course, I loved acting. I professed to want to be a movie star. In high school I acted in plays, and won speech and oratorical contests.
I had planned to go to secretarial school. That changed when I won the New England drama auditions my junior year of high school. The prize was a scholarship to an acting school. My drama coach cautioned my parents that I should go to college and major in theatre; that way I would have something to “fall back on”. I didn’t intend to “fall back”; I intended to get married. My parents reasoned that I would have a better choice of men in college. I did have choices: young men from Boston University, MIT and Harvard. I dated a lot. I often felt like someone making her way through a library looking for that one perfect book.
I thought I had found my “one true love” the year after graduation. I had ordered my gown, the invitations and the reception hall. Two months before the wedding, he asked me to return the ring. The devastation lasted for years. In the meantime, I married. My husband and I were very fond of each other; we had three sons, and my husband began his climb of the corporate ladder. In 1972, feeling the weight of a wife, children and a mortgage, he left. On a final family trip, I survived emotionally by imagining my second husband. Shortly after the divorce, my former husband became ill. There was little or no child support. I needed to work, so I taught high school English. But I discovered two traits I hadn’t known I possessed: ambition and competitiveness. I left my teaching job and began hosting and producing a talk show for the local cable company; my pay was free cable. However, my career path was set. What lay ahead was a surprise even to me. I hosted Orlando’s first talk show. When the station folded, I moved to radio news and talk radio. In 1976, I moved to TV news. In January of 1978 I became the first woman in Central Florida to anchor an evening newscast, I had shattered a glass ceiling. Research showed more people recognized me than the governor.My career took me to both the East and West Coasts; I hosted and produced TV and radio talk shows and taught media classes for three colleges.
I met many men. A brief marriage in the 80’s made the front page of the local newspaper,t was when I returned from Seattle after a six-year stint teaching college classes and hosting radio talk that I met the man who would become” the love of my life”. I rented a condo in a suburb of Orlando. On the second day when attempting to change the toilet paper, in frustration I pulled the holder and plaster out of the wall. I called maintenance. When I answered the door a tall, handsome man with white hair and blue eyes stood before me. He said his name was Floyd, but his friends called him Sonny. After he re-plastered the holder, we talked briefly. “What do people do in this town to have fun?” I asked. Looking back, I had opened more than one door.
“How would you like me to show you parts of Central Florida you have never seen before?” he asked. “And I’ll cook you the best dinner you ever had, country fried steak and a strawberry Danish. On a cool Florida evening, I climbed on the back of his Honda Gold Wing, and we drove to the beach. We sat on stools in a bar overlooking the ocean. We talked as night fell and white-capped waves slapped the beach. His mother had raised him in rural Penn after his father died in WW II. An uncle who owned an adjoining farm taught him farming. He had worked with his hands all his life. For a short time he had been superintendent of a foundry and had driven stocks cars competitively since he was a teenager. Our paths could not have been more different. No dating service would have matched us, but from then on we have been together. There were raised eyebrows from his friends and mine. “Him?” “Her?” However, I knew I had found ”the love of my life”.
I traded my heels for boots, my cocktail dresses for jeans. We went on “bike runs”, drank beer from the bottle in biker bars and danced to country music. Sonny’s family lived nearby, so our social life became mainly family barbecues, holiday get- togethers and birthday parties, When we married, we drove the motorcycle to a small town courthouse to exchange vows; later, we ate lunch at a local diner .We bought a fixer-up house which Sonny re-modeled.
In ten years there have been changes. Sonny converted his Gold Wing into a tryke. Neither of us can handle heavy food, so I bake high fiber bread and Sonny grills chicken and lean hamburgers. Sonny battles diabetes; I battle fibromyalgia. The recession has hit us, so I teach nighttime college classes; Sonny puts in eight-hour days as a handyman. Vacations are limited to visiting my three sons and their families. Entertainment is usually eating popcorn and watching a movie in bed. Friday nights we play Bingo at the Moose lodge. Our family, two cats and two dogs, sleep with us every night. I am 70 years old and I love my life!
Growing up, I would not have believed I would live six decades before finding “the love of my life”, I forgot our anniversary this year, but that morning I awoke to find a big bouquet, a card and a cup of coffee. The card Sonny had carefully chosen read: “I treasure every day I spend with you. You are truly ‘the love of my life’ ”. It has been worth the wait!