Having recently traveled to Manchester, NH, to attend the annual National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) conference, I looked forward to the usual writing inspiration and comradery, but never expected to meet two nonagenarians with a love story to write home about. At the age of 90 and 91, Beth and Rowland were lucky to reconnect after a seventy-year separation and marry, with their story documented in the New York Times a few years back.
The sweet couple flew all the way east from California to attend, which is an accomplishment in itself at their age. I’ll not be complaining again about jet lag, as I do even without traveling outside our time zone! These two might have moved a bit more slowly than the rest of us, but their genuine enthusiasm for life, and each other, was contagious.
The love birds first met when they were just 12 and 13 during summer trips with their respective families to New England. Beth was smitten but Rowland wasn’t ready for a serious relationship at such a tender age, and treated her as a tomboy. When their families moved on and those summer meetups ended, Beth was devastated and never forgot her first love.
Decades later, still writing for the Marin Independent Journal, Beth wrote a reminiscent piece about her time, as a child, in New England and mentioned Rowland’s name. Lo and behold, a friend of Rowland’s saw it and passed along the pertinent info about Beth. Long, but rich, story short, the two reconnected and were married. Beth admitted, however, that when she found out he had become a Republican, she had second thoughts. She did reassure me, though, that she convinced him to vote the right (left) way and they are now on the same political page.
Beth has a bit more difficulty getting around these days but the ever-attentive Rowland makes sure she’s comfortable. At a couple of points during our conference sessions Beth would doze off and Rowland would nudge her gently. Once, when he couldn’t get her attention, his hand moved to her thigh causing her to pop up, slap his hand and giggle. She stayed awake for the rest of the session!
To witness such affection and love at their age is a wonderful thing and gives us hope that love is, indeed, eternal.
***And I have to add a postscript…our fellow writer, Christine McDonald, of My Little Shangri-La adds this…”And I saw them boarding their rental curbside. It was a snazzy little white convertible, ragtop down. He was loading up while she sat by observing. He then went and assisted her into the car. He was grinning from ear to ear the whole time, buzzin around like first date excitement. What a beautiful story.” When I grow up I want to be just like them!