As we celebrate the publication of the first L.A. Affairs book — you can order it here — we revisit some of our most memorable columnists from years past. This author’s column about finding love at 87, was published in September 2017.
A summer romance to me is something wonderful, ecstatic, two people coming together for a time, living every moment with joy, even as they realize the summer will end and they will go their separate ways. Dave Wylie and I had a three-year “summer romance.”
He was 93 and I was 87 when we found each other.
Obviously, it wouldn’t last.
We had no idea whether we’d have a month or hopefully several years together but agreed to enjoy whatever time we had.
We reveled in each other’s company, sleeping together (yes, I do mean s-e-x), our hand-in-hand walks around our neighborhood, our Life Stories group and our meals together. (I cooked and he cleaned up, a luxury I’d never had before.) Chelsea, an elderly chow chow, joined us and also appreciated our walks.
I knew Dave through his wife, who died in 2015. He emailed me to report her death. We exchanged a few more emails, and a casual friendship grew from there. In January 2017, he came to town for a visit. We enjoyed each other’s company immensely. A month later, I went to Colorado to visit him. By midweek, we decided he would move to California to be with me.
The day after Dave moved in, my book group gave me a lingerie shower, the first in my life. (I told them I wasn’t into thongs.) But I loved it, and Dave was intrigued.
We agreed that getting married would complicate things, especially our health insurance. So we decided instead to have a commitment ceremony. More than 100 family and friends joined us in our backyard on Sept. 3, 2017, for the celebration.
Instead of rings, we bought big wind chimes for our backyard, inscribed with the date and “Old Love Rules.” We agreed that whenever the chimes rang, they were saying, “I love you.”
We had one rule in our house. Neither of us liked to argue, and we agreed that after all these years, bickering would be a waste of energy. Instead, if one of us was unhappy about something, we’d say, “We need to talk.” And then we’d talk, and the topic almost always turned out to be amazingly unimportant.
Well, there was one time — when I drove us to Palm Springs to visit his son. (Dave no longer drove.) I learned, once we were home, that my driving at 80 mph (to keep up with California traffic, of course), had upset him. I don’t really like to drive, so I said I’d be happy not to chauffeur him to Palm Springs again. We found other ways to get to Palm Springs after that.
We continued to enjoy our walks, eating together, theater and concerts (before COVID-19), and being with our families (total of eight children) but mostly just being together.
Last spring, Dave had a health problem. He couldn’t comfortably lie down to sleep, so he spent the nights sitting up on the couch in the living room in front of the fire. Not very romantic, but the problem went away after two or three weeks.
Then in August, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, had a hysterectomy and underwent 28 radiation treatments. I assume I’m fine now. But my leaving every morning for those treatments was hard on Dave. We hired help for a few hours some days but neither of us liked that. We loved being together by ourselves.
A couple of months ago Dave started failing. He was confused and weak but remained loving and cheerful. The day after my 25th radiation treatment, he became extremely weak. For the first time ever, he couldn’t get up, get dressed and face the day. He wanted help sitting up at about 10:30 a.m., then simply lay back down and stopped breathing.
It was something I hadn’t expected, not this quickly. For several minutes I couldn’t believe he was gone.
Dave died that day, on Nov. 19. He was 97. I’m grieving as I remember the wonders of our three-plus years together. I miss him terribly. I keep going to my phone to look at all those photos I have of our long-lived summer romance.
And I remember that we kept our promise: We had no idea whether we’d have a month or several years together but agreed to enjoy whatever time we had.
The author died on Jan. 21 of cancer, after completing this essay. She was 91.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email [email protected] You can find submission guidelines here.
Source by www.latimes.com