Romance past sixty looks much different than romance at sixteen. In our early years, we swooned and went after the handsome jock or cute cheerleader. Or maybe it was a megawatt smile that drew us in. It took several dates in to begin learning about the prospective mate’s personality and character.
But, past sixty, six-pack abs have given way to abs that more closely resemble pony kegs. Smooth, tanned limbs are now marred by scars, age spots and cellulite. The luxurious hair has turned silver, where there’s any hair at all. Lithe, limber bodies that allowed for spontaneous outings like rock climbing and marathon bike rides now have to accommodate synthetic joints, pill regimens and medical devices. But the smile can still reach out.
It was the smile and the articulate honesty of his profile that kept drawing me back to my beau’s profile on the dating site. Subsequent communication found him to be upbeat, funny and interesting. He was able to talk about his life and losses in an open and compassionate way, then segue into informed and intelligent conversation about current events and our many common interests. We got to know each other first by messaging, then email and phone. Our first call lasted about three hours, and when we finally met, I found him as compelling in person as in writing. A curious combination of chivalry and rogue, he continues to provoke my admiration and respect in the way he researches anything he wants to know about and provides steadfast support to his family members and friends.
He supports me in pursuit of my writing and offers helpful insight as I work out plot twists. His business background allows him to give me sage advice on most aspects of my life. He opens doors for me, at least when I remember to wait for him to do so. We talk about our exes and deceased mates with candor and understanding.
We don’t have a lot of time to spend together, because he’s retired and I’m still working. We don’t live in the same town. Business travel, writing groups, and time spent with family often separate us for weeks. But he has no problem accepting my absences. “That happens when you have extended families scattered all over like we do,” he said. “I’ll never be upset with you for spending time with your kids and grandkids.” Although he did give me a set of black pearls to let me know I was on the “black list” the first time I spent a week away with my kids. We are comfortable in each other’s kitchens and company. The other day, we chatted for an hour about our favorite childhood candies.
Romance is still alive, even if you have to check the body periodically for a pulse. Perhaps it’s the need to have someone with whom you can be yourself in perfect trust that he won’t reject you for it. Perhaps it’s the excitement of getting to know someone that deeply (and yet it takes a lifetime to know him completely). Maybe it’s knowing someone has your back—and will rub lotion on it where you can’t reach. Maybe it’s the comfort of not having to explain yourself all the time.
I can’t really describe it, but the romance exists. He may look a little rough-cut after all the pressures he’s been through, but time has turned this admitted lump of coal into a diamond of the finest quality. And there’s still that smile.