I had an interesting conversation with Jerry shortly before his died. We talked about a lot of things during those final weeks. I asked him the hard question regarding whether he was afraid to die. He said he wasn’t. He just didn’t want to leave me and the kids. Enough to take your breath away. Then, I asked him the second hard question which had to do with me. I asked him if he thought about whether I would be with someone else and how he felt thinking that might be a possibility. It actually bothered him more than maybe dying. Naturally. I get that. I assured him that I would never want to get married again. In fact, I said that I would rather stick a screwdriver in my eye than get married again. He winced. I knew why. But, he was wrong. My statement had nothing to do with the quality of my life with him.
He reminded me that it wasn’t the marriage part that made him pensive, but the relationship part. That, maybe, I could be happier with someone else. He wanted that for me because he told me clearly. At the same time, though, he was anxious that, perhaps, he not been able to do that for me. What if someone else could. I get how that might make someone sad. It would do that to me.
He needed to snap out of it and not be ridiculous. I was 62, a grandmother of six at that time (now seven) and I planned on focusing on my grandchildren as I headed down that home stretch. And that is what I did for the following three years.
Honestly, who needs relationship complications?! Whose kids at thanksgiving? Yours or mine? Whose house? Yours, mine or someplace new? Money…Whose gets spent? How much and on whom? What if he doesn’t have good pots and pans in his kitchen? What if he hates Opera? Or we don’t like each other’s friends? Or we don’t agree on what to set the thermostat at? Beach or mountains? Where do we go on vacation? What if he doesn’t like my cooking? Or I don’t like his? Or we don’t agree on politics? Or we are not of the same faith. The complications are endless.
Then Cancer decided to pay me a visit. So disrespectful. To arrive uninvited. Outstay its welcome and take whatever did not belong to it. While I was processing all of this, it occurred to me that being in a relationship just might be the best medicine for me. I thought about it and decided to go online to see what a Greek dating site might have to offer. Being Greek myself, it made perfect sense. For about five nanoseconds. Just about every Greek guy that I would have thought would be interested in a sixty-five year old woman was seriously delusional. They listed the ideal age they were looking for and it ranged from 40 to 50 and they were 65 to 73. And, I am pretty sure they were looking for natural blondes. Online dating was not going to work for me. I decided to do the Greek thing…ask my friends to keep an eye out for a man with these qualifications. Yes, I did do that. Here is the list of my criteria:
- Had their own money
- Did not have a crazy ass bitch ex-wife
- Children were addiction free and on their own
- Could walk unassisted
- Had Erectile Dysfunction
This last requirement was selfish. The thought of being intimate with another man at my age, never mind his age, was simply not very appealing. It was always good for a laugh whenever I would go over my list. But…I was quite serious and pretty sure that I would never have to pull out that screwdriver. I was playing at this and didn’t expect anything to come of it. What is that old saying? ”While we plan, God laughs”. Along came Jorge. The very best of Jerry. I think he must have known this was going to happen. That there really was a man out there who could make me this happy.
Through all of this, what I came to realize is that life for me without a partner was lonely. Uncomplicated, yes. But, vacuously lonely. It didn’t matter how many friends I had, or how busy I was at work or even the fact that I lived with my family. I was still alone. Why I felt that way finally dawned on me…I missed having an advocate. You know, the one who wants to make you happy. Who makes you laugh. Who loves you just the way you are. Whose voice or text is the first to greet you in the morning and the last you hear or read at night. My kids cannot do that, try as they might. They are busy with careers and their own family’s demands. As they should be. Work won’t do it because it just can’t. My staff and salespeople have been incredibly good to me. But it is not the same thing, My friends have their own partners to spend time with. And my grandchildren…well, they love me. I am keenly aware of this, but at this stage of their lives, I mostly hear from them when they want me to buy something for them that their parents will not. The call always starts like this, “So, Yaya, I’ve been thinking…”.
Recently, I watched an episode of “Chicago Med” that focused on the relationships or lack thereof within the cast. A patient inspired the track. The subject of loneliness became the central theme in that show and how it has the power to impact one’s health. Shorter life span. More heart trouble. And not the heart trouble you want to have. Unhappiness. And on and on.
I believe we are designed to be in community and so I choose to love again. To experience my life with someone I connect with. It is terrifying and fabulous. I get that. It is complicating my simple life of one. It is. Yet, when it is all said and done, I am willing to embrace the challenges that come with a committed relationship because with the right man, it is stupidly good.