Senior romance can happen unexpectedly even when it is 30 years in the making. Timing is important in senior romance. Mutual attraction helps.
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
Last July, after a Sunday service at her Newport Beach, Ca., church, Leslie was on the church patio greeting visitors who had attended the service. She had done this often in the 36 years she had been the choir director and often organist of the church.
One of the guests was Bob, a handsome man standing by himself. During their conversation, Bob surprised Leslie when he told her he had seen her at the Calexico Airport (on the US/Mexican border) over 20 years before and had been attracted to her then. He had recognized her from the church he sometimes visited. At first, Leslie told him she'd never been at that airport.
Then, she remembered. Leslie said, "I had been there with my husband, who was doing dental work in Baja in conjunction with the Flying Samaritans, and we had stopped at that airport for customs. Bob said he had just watched me from the other side of the small airport. He had been there on assignment with the Marine Corps Reserves.
"I was surprised by this ancient memory of his, but it was obviously still current in his mind. There was a definite mutual connection between us.
"As we were getting acquainted, several other ladies came up to introduce themselves--as a good looking, middle-aged man is a hot commodity at church! I was gracious about that, but secretly wishing they would take a hike! Bob bid adieu and was gone."
Leslie didn't see Bob for three weeks, when, lo and behold, he appeared on the patio again. He's a private pilot and had been away at AirVenture, an aviation fair in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
She stated, "I went up to him and said, 'You came back!' This time our connection was more intimate, I told him I had a grandson named Charlie living in Santa Rosa in Northern California and would be traveling to see him soon. Again, we were interrupted, and he exited without us exchanging phone numbers. As he left, however, he ran his hand across the small of my back, which I can still 'feel' today!"
Two days later, Bob called the church office, making an excuse to get Leslie's phone number. Usually that information would be confidential, but the church secretary was Leslie's best friend, and she had already heard about Bob from Leslie.
"That day, he called and left a message, saying he owned a private plane and would be happy to fly me to Santa Rosa to visit my grandson. I returned the call saying I didn't need a ride to Santa Rosa and thanked him for the offer, at which time we set up a date for the next evening. That was nearly a year ago and we've been dating exclusively since."
After they'd been dating for awhile, Bob told Leslie that in 1978, he used to chat on the same patio after church with her ex-husband but never had the courage to talk to her, that he just admired her from afar. Leslie said, "As he put it: 'I had the hots for you in 1978!'"
A relationship could have happened. Both Leslie and Bob were single; she had two young children. But he was intimidated by her being the choir director and organist.
The following year, Leslie started dating a man who sang in the church choir; they were married in 1980, until his death in 2003.
Leslie gave an update, "On July 22, we are flying to Oshkosh to attend AirVenture, only this time I'm a student pilot! In January, I decided I should take some type of pilot training in order to 'save us' in the airplane, if necessary." She attended three months of ground school, took and passed the FAA knowledge test, and is accruing hours to earn her private pilot's license--not anything she expected to be doing in retirement.
"I had just retired from a 30-year teaching career when we met, so the timing was perfect. And now we have this great shared passion and enjoy going to wonderful places together via the wild, blue yonder!
"Bob never married and was never engaged. One of his regrets in life is that he didn't have children. So I've enjoyed introducing him to my daughters and grandson, and he's now a part of our big, extended family, which includes my ex-husband and his two sons, who are like my sons, too. Bob and Leslie's ex are still friends despite the new arrangement.
She added, "Before Bob, I had been on match.com and had dated about five guys, one fairly seriously. But once I met Bob, they were history, as was match.com!"
"About 10 times during the past year, Bob has said, 'I should have married your ass 30 years ago and had babies with you. We'd have made beautiful kids!' That statement warms my heart!
"In reality, I wouldn't have been ready for a guy like Bob 30 years ago. He'd have been way too macho for me then. Now, I love that about him, and I love his passion for the Marine Corps and for flying and just for life in general."
Three life lessons from Leslie and Bob's story
First, good things happen when we least expect them, especially when we maintain a positive attitude
Second, timing and fate take their own course. Hooking up wouldn't have been right for Leslie and Bob in 1978, or in 1980. And yet the seed of attraction was planted. Their time for each other was 2007, and they are making the most of it. A mutual attraction helps.
Third, after we retire from long-time careers, it's important to remain active, and to be willing to develop new interests and hobbies to keep us fresh and thinking young.
Above all, it's one heck of a romantic story.