It’s running up to Valentine’s Day, one of my least favorite holidays. But I have been thinking about love a lot lately. My mom said perhaps I have bad judgment where men are concerned, but I think in fact I have excellent judgment. I am not after all, unhappily married to any of them! And I think for the most part I would be unhappy. With any one of them. Did I waste too much time on Ron? I think not, we had a good run, and a lot of fun. But I realized that I wanted to make room for a bigger love, a more passionate and irrational kind of love, the kind that comes through like gangbusters. A kind of love I have known, and the memory of which makes my heart warm still
And didn’t I give him all the ingredients he needed to be a genuine hero – a deadly diagnosis, a scary surgery, and even scarier (in my opinion) follow-up treatment? He could have simply sent flowers the day of my surgery, but instead chose to ignore it completely. I am still disappointed in him.
Abigail Trafford wrote yesterday about living longer and falling in love “past your prime.”
I found this part most interesting:
The intensity of a coup is matched by its mystery: Why do you fall in love when you do?
For older men and women, the answer is found in the link between love and loss. People tend to fall in love after they experience loss or are separated from the familiar, researchers point out. Teenagers fall in love as they "lose" childhood and separate from their parents. Shipboard romances flourish, as do conference flirtations and travel trysts, because people are away from home: They have "lost" their moorings. Wartime love explodes in the urgent shadow of separation and loss of life.
Longevity creates another kind of urgent shadow. This period that promises vitality to many men and women is also a time of loss. Disability and death are constant realities. As you get older, there may be a reduction in hormonal drive but an increase in loss, which set the stage for connecting with others.
It feels so spontaneous.
I certainly have experienced the ultimate in losses in 2007 and 2008. The tamoxifen that I take brought on menopause, finally, and so far with few side effects. Note that I started this regimen on Valentine’s Day 2008. What a Valentine! Hopefully it will prevent the cancer from reoccurring, though I remain pessimistic. I lost my job, and let lose my love. What was left? A new beginning, I hope. I hope that was my bottom. I surely do not wish to repeat it.
And this from the second page:
A widow, 84, confided in her daughter: There's a man in her life. A friend from decades ago who is married and living in another city. He visits her and stays in her apartment, where they make love. As she said to her daughter: "I went to the moon and back. I never knew it could be like this before."
Her daughter, who is married with two children in high school, stared at her mother. To the moon and back! To experience that for the first time in your 80s! The lovers talk to each other every day. As the daughter quipped to me: "I think they are having phone sex."
I have to laugh.
You can love in many ways. The imperative of living longer is renewal, and for most people, love is an agent of transformation. You may be in a 30-plus-year marriage, or in a new relationship. You may be smiling at a distant romantic memory or staring into the face of newborn grandchild. Or entering a different phase of love with a grown child. Or rediscovering an old friend. Or going to church. True love is a spreading-out thing. The Valentine crush is just the beginning, an awakening or reawakening of the passionate self -- a reminder of the power of love and triumph of relationships, as time goes by.
This article is adapted from "As Time Goes By: Boomerang Marriages, Serial Spouses, Throwback Couples, and Other Romantic Adventures in an Age of Longevity" ( Basic Books, 2009).
There was a review of this book a couple of weeks ago. Here.
And I do go to church. But I’ll make that a separate entry.