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My Mother Found Her First Great Passionate Love — at Age 93

This may be the best story you read all month.

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illustration of infinite expiration date sticker on red heart
Paul Spella
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At 93, my mother moved to an independent living facility, convinced that her life and any chance of a love relationship was over. This, after 33 years of an awful marriage with a sullen brute of a man, who also happened to be my father.

While I was wild as a teen, and enjoying lots of romance and sex (hey, it was the 70s’ era of free love), I never saw my parents hug, kiss, touch or say, "I love you." They slept in separate beds, separated even more by an end table. The only relationship advice my mother gave to me and my sister was a warning about how men needed sex, but women certainly didn’t need it or want it.

I knew that was true for her because my parents never seemed to have — or desire — sex. They never closed their bedroom door, and I, a light sleeper, never heard anything except my father’s throaty snores.

When my father died at the age of 57, my mother didn’t date, proclaiming herself "through with men and all that stuff." She had resigned herself to being lonely, and she was even a little resentful when she saw me holding hands with my husband or kissing him while we danced.

"You’re embarrassing everyone," she told me, though it was clear that it was only she who didn’t like public displays of affection. All that “lovey-dovey stuff," as she called it, was over for her, and she didn’t like to see it in anyone around her

But to her — and our — surprise, the lovey-dovey stuff was really just beginning.

At 93, within three days of being at independent living, she had met someone she called The Teddy Bear. He was a bulky guy, four years younger and twice her height. When I met him, he had his arm thrown around her, and my mother was glowing. "She’s my girlfriend," the Teddy Bear told me, patting her head.

For the first time in many years, my mother was actually happy. "I’m just testing the waters," she told me. She was seeing how it felt to be with a man who didn’t yell or threaten her, who teased her and who was affectionate. It was as innocent as grade school. "Everyone has boyfriends and girlfriends here," my mother told me. "Everyone here just wants a little company."

Then a month later, after she and the Teddy Bear had transitioned into casual buddies, she met Walter. "It was passion at first sight," she sighed.

Walter was smart and handsome and full of life, and at 91, we joked that she was robbing the cradle. A world traveler, he was also well-read, with a sharp sense of humor. At our first meeting, he joyfully told me that my crusty, complaining mom was like "starlight." He later told her he had been watching her from afar, and had noticed her ebullience, her laughter and her beauty.

Soon they were inseparable. I talked to my mom every few days and she couldn’t stop talking about Walter. "He has a beautiful neck," she told me. "And you should see his eyes."

I had never heard her speak of any man like this. The more she got to know him, the more romantic her talk became. She would giggle on the phone like a teenager, and say: "We kiss in the hallway and I don’t care who sees us!"

"I’m so happy you have a boyfriend!" I told my mother, and she laughed. "Oh honey, he’s more than that," she said, proudly whispering. "He’s a sexual partner."

I was astonished. I admit that at first, I didn’t quite believe her. Maybe she was misinterpreting things, or imagining them. What harm could that do? But then my sister told me she had come to visit, and entered my mother’s room without knocking. There was a flurry of activity, my mother hastily buttoning her blouse, Walter sheepishly pulling on his pants, and there, on the end table, beside my mom’s lacey bra, was a large blue bottle of lubricant.

Both my sister and I were thrilled.

During all my visits, my mom and Walter couldn’t keep their hands off each other. He would say, "She is my sunshine" to her and we knew he was her everything. They had champagne on New Year’s Eve, long talks and walks, and best of all, they had physical intimacy., something she had not had before.

They spent every day together. And many nights as well.

At 98, my mother began to get dementia and was moved to another building that housed assisted living residents. There, I saw her in her wheelchair, Walter kneeling beside her, holding her hand, telling her he’d still visit her every day. And he did, for a while.

Four months after my mother’s move, Walter fell, hurting his back badly, and taking his cognitive abilities with him. He was moved to the memory care unit. But if he forgot her, she never forgot him. With her cognitive decline, she believed they were still on the same floor, still together, all the time.

"I just put on fresh sheets for Walter," my mom would tell me pointing to her bed, winking. This was when Walter was now in very bad shape and the only bed he’d be in was his own. When he died my sister and I agreed not to tell her. And no one had to, because one of the gifts of her dementia — if you can say it was a gift — was that she insisted she still saw him, and slept with him, every day.

During our mom’s own dying days at 101, my sister and I were at her bedside. So, she told us, was Walter, holding her hand, exclaiming over her beautiful breasts and her long legs. "He loves every part of me," she said.

My mother’s love story changed me. It made me appreciate my own 33 years of a truly happy marriage even more. I never tire of telling and retelling my mother’s love story in her 90s. And people don’t tire of hearing it. Because who wouldn’t adore this proof — and this promise — that love and intimacy don’t have an expiration date?

Do you have a parent who found love much later in life? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo Credits: Getty Images (2); Alamy

Follow Article Topics: Relationships
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