OK – right off I have to admit that I am a senior. That is the demilitarized zone between middle age and elderly. This is but one account of love in a life well lived, and the hope for love yet to come. Life has bestowed many blessings on this old man. Good women have come into my life. Some of them hung around to become significant relationships – those wonderful experiences of great joy and great sadness. Is the joy worth the pain? Well, we submit to joy because we convince ourselves there will be no pain. I stand at that crossroads again today. What is love?
My values have changed over the years. The first of the significant women in my life was just eighteen when I was twenty years old. She was a stunning beauty, a kind and gentle woman. We have three children. What more is there? As beautiful and kind and gentle as she was, we were not compatible or at least I thought not. Frankly, I was an unaware and insecure male chauvinist. Her beauty captured me. Unaware of my insecurity I found a beautiful woman to give me the appearance of confidence. We have not been together in over twenty-five years but she remains a person to whom I admire and respect – a woman who is a fine mother and grandmother. What lessons did I learn from her?
There was a brief interlude between significant romance. Even those women of short relationship duration had an impact on my view of love. I believe I genuinely loved one – but she was unable to commit to me – she moved away.
My second long term sanctuary was with a woman I continue to admire today. Less physical beauty but powerful pragmatism and responsibility. More aware of my chauvinist tendencies I submitted to her desires. We were together long enough to be worthy of life changing experiences. The relationship was more of a practical cohabitation. My realization was that simple practicality is not sustainable with expectations of intimacy. I miss her and her children – but we were never right for each other.
Failure in relationships can be a powerful motivation for reflecting on one’s own character. My character left much to be desired. I tried several more short term romances but felt unfulfilled. Then I met a woman who had reassessed her character – had battled in the trenches of conflicted relationships – someone like myself – someone looking for a soul mate. We were together for ten years. That is a long time. The past several years have found us going through the motions of sharing expenses, sitting through family outings, drifting apart, recognizing the differences in interest and no longer motivated to compromise. We are done. Another great sadness visited my life.
So what is next? Is there love for a senior? Somewhere in my life I formulated a dream of love and happiness with a life partner. Life has been brutal.
Is there hope? Perhaps. Is there a circle of life? As a senior I recognize my time is running out. Will true love ever come my way? Also as a senior I am cautious, fearful, weary. Grief has visited me too many times. Grief comes along whether we want it or invite it – so setting the stage for more grief seems to be an absurdity of mega proportions. Can a senior with a history of terminal relationships learn to trust love? Can any senior trust enough to love again?
Love is a scary thing. Like faith, love does not require proof – it is a sensation of emotion not rooted in practicality. But being the practical humans that we are we cannot escape the fears of the past. We assess the troubles of past experience and vow to never again suffer that pain. We become healthy skeptics.
But we long for love. We long for the love of Cinderella or Snow White. We want the fairy tale to be true. We question everything. When we bump rears in the crowed kitchen will we feel that old irritation or will we smile at the inadvertent touch? Are there words that have become off limits? A past experience might say words like ‘disappointed’ or ‘stupid’ or ‘idiot’ are show-stoppers. Past experience can be very powerful – and probably should be. We have come to know those irritating little behaviors or words that become infectious and fester to grievous pain.
So here I sit. returning to the dream of love. Can it be possible? Is there hope? Can true love overcome the hard experiences of the past?
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
That is the love I speak of. Can we do this? Can two people love each other in a way that there is no envy or fear or hurt or resentment? Keeps no record of wrongs? always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres?
I want nothing less – I have settled for less and was not happy. The biblical definition of love might also be the definition of maturity. Is life such that we can justify not loving anyone?
Anyway – I hope for true love one day.