I was 17 at the time, and heartbroken over a girl. I remember my grandmother’s words, they stayed with me forever. (My grandmother passed fifteen years ago, and I miss her every day)
“Ted”, she said, “The girl who will make you happiest is not even born yet”. I looked at her and asked if she thought I was some kind of a sicko?. “A sicko? Why would you think that?” she asked. “That would make me 17 years older than her. I cant go with someone 17 years younger than me, that would be crazy!” I said. She just looked at me with her loving eyes and said “Whoever this girl is, I may not get a chance to meet her, but you will know from the minute you lay eyes on her. It will be love at first sight.”
My grandmother was a wise woman.
When I was 26, my marriage ended. The girl that I thought was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life turned out to be the person I wanted to be the farthest away from. Again, I was heartbroken. My grandmother was there for me again, and she told me the same thing that she had said when I was 17. “The woman you will spend the rest of your life with is still only a child. Give yourself time, you will know when it is right”
She began to scare me now. How could she know, how could she have been so sure? She was by no means a fortune teller, but yet, she held fast that she knew.
As a young man, I spent many days with my grandmother. My grandfather was killed by a drunk hit and run driver back in 1970, and she spent the rest of her days taking care of her grandchildren, offering them her insight and her love, and her famous chocolate cake, which she made from scratch. When Nana (we all called her that) needed someone to take her shopping, she would give me gas money and I would take her to whatever stores she wanted to go to, pushing the cart and chatting. She was so wise, so comical, and she always had a positive view of the world, no matter how tangled up it got.
My Nana developed diabetes when she turned 80, and by the time she was 86, she was totally blind. A strong woman, she did not let this get her down, rather, she continued shopping, telling stories, and baking cakes. Her garden grew as well as it did when she had sight, probably from the stories she recited as she watered and cared for each plant. I loved my grandmother so much. When she turned 87, complications from diabetes caused her to take a heart attack. On her death bed, she held my hand and again, assured me that I must be patient and wait for that special girl, the one who I will spend the rest of my life with, and the one who will make me smile each day. In a little while, my Nana was gone.
I had relationships afterwards, some of whom I had hoped were the ladies my grandmother spoke of, but none of them were. I got to the point where I was about to give up. I knew that I was still grieving my marriage, as well as many personal difficulties, and that maybe I was not ready for a long term relationship.
When I turned 40, I underwent surgery to remove a possible cancerous tumor. After the surgery, I asked my family and friends why it was that I always treated people with kindness and respect, and yet, I was alone. Nobody had an answer except for my mom. She said that it was because I have never met the right person yet. Mom reminded me to think of what Nana told me. I replied to my mom that I am no longer 17, or 26, or even 30, and that this person probably doesn’t exist. I was about to give up.
Once I recovered from the surgery, I went back to college to do a two year course that would allow me the skills to run volunteer groups in the community, and I devoted my time to helping others, especially seniors and the poorer families in the community.
The first day at college was registration day. I was standing at the door when I saw her. My heart sank. I stuttered when I spoke, and I felt like I did when I was a kid and I was crushing the prettiest girl in school. When I went to talk to her, I think I may have said something dumb, I am not sure because it was a blur to me. Here I was, a 40 year old man, unable to talk to a woman. That was never a problem for me, as I am not a shy person, but for some reason, I was horrified to say the wrong thing.
She made it easy for me. I remember looking into her eyes and all of a sudden all my fears, my nervousness, my speech, and everything else that were working overtime calmed down. We sat and chatted, and it was so easy to talk to her. We laughed together, and we spent the rest of the day together, in class, at lunch, back in class, and we said goodbye at the end of the day. She said that when she was 17 she had a child, but that didn’t matter to me. She called when I got home, and we chatted all night.
I still remember the next day of classes. The day before, we talked about everything imaginable, except for one thing, our ages. After class, our conversation got to the topic of how old I was. She guessed thirty. I was forty. I figured her to be about thirty. When I told her my age, she backed off quickly. I wondered why this was, until she revealed that she was only 20 years old.
Just then, everything changed. She said that her dad was only a few years older than I was and it would be spooky dating someone twenty years her elder. I agreed, and said that I couldn’t do something like this either. We agreed to remain friends. We were great friends. On weekends, I went to her place and we made pizzas that the three of us ate together. Her little boy loved it when I visited, and I loved being there. She came to my home and we made snowmen in the backyard. We went to community events together, and we remained classmates, helping each other with assignments and we studied for tests and exams together. She was the best friend I ever had and I was happy.
When I arrived home, all I could think about was her. Nana’s words rang through my head but I quickly put them to sleep. I began dating another woman because I could not see myself in a relationship with a woman half my age, but the relationship ended in disaster. She got into a relationship with some loser who was using her and I seen it. I feared that if I said anything, she would hate me forever, but when I found out that he was a drug user and small time dealer, I had to say something. I said “You are too good for a guy like this. I am not saying this so that you will go with me, I don’t care if you ever go out with me, I am happy to be your friend, and as a friend, I am suggesting that you run for your life and stay away from this guy.”
She didn’t break up with him just then, but eventually she did send him packing. One evening, while we were watching television together, she asked me if I was happy being her friend. I said yes, and she asked if I was REALLY happy, or if I wanted something more. She said that she enjoyed being my friend, but she also added that maybe she could deal with the age difference if I could. These were the best words I have ever heard. I didn’t tell her, but I had spent endless nights at home dreaming that she would say those words. I knew it would not be easy, but since when is life easy? I knew others would judge us wrongly when they found out that I was twice her age, but who cares? She made me happy and I made her happy, and we both loved her son, so what was really wrong with this?
That was eight years ago in January, and we have set our wedding day for September 21, 2013. The age difference is only an issue for people who don’t understand true love, and who don’t see how happy we make each other, and who don’t see how right my grandmother was all those years ago.
There are some who will read this post and make a judgement that I am too old to have a 27 year old fiance. There are some who will read this and see that True Love is a love that conquers all, and that even time cannot stop love if it is meant to happen.
Tomorrow is Valentines day for most people in the world. Every day is Valentines day for me and my beautiful woman. I love life, I love how this happened, and I love her.