Yesterday I shared my friend Jens’ beautiful, true love story. The love stories of those I’m close to always fill me with joy, and hope.
Even in this year of confusion and sorrow, I’m seeing new love bloom all around me. Two of my friends have had genuine quarantine romances, the kind where nightly long phone calls are exchanged and “dates” are had feet apart on park benches, the anticipation of touch building over months full of longing. One of my friends is secretly inching toward proposing; another’s husband has taken care of her during her quarantine pregnancy and birth in powerful ways; and another told me her newfound love is “the one”!
If I’m hearing all of these heartwarming stories, I know you are too! Or maybe you’ve even had one of your own. Tell me everything!
My 87-year-old grandpa Chuck's late-in-life love story is one of my favorites. (I interviewed him about it here: https://cruelsummerbookclub.substack.com/p/my-grandpa-was-77-when-he-found-love) My grandmother Betty passed away after they'd been together for 53 years. A year later, Grandpa reunited with a high school friend, Donnie, who had also lost her husband, Bob. All four of them had been friends since high school, and have pictures together. Soon, Chuck and Donnie fell in love, united by a lifetime of history, and a brand new flame of passion and joy.
At 77 years old, my grandfather created a new home with a partner he could not stop gushing about. Five years later she too passed away, of cancer, but my grandpa's caretaking for the two women he's loved most in this life, and his four children, is the pinnacle of love to me.
My parents fell in love during a pandemic! They were both seriously ill with H2N2 in 1958. Their younger siblings (dad’s brother and mom’s sister) were connected with each other on something called a “party line,” which was a way to meet new people randomly on the phone. My aunt and uncle immediately disliked each other and handed their phones to their older siblings. My parents spoke on the phone for six weeks while they were both out of school with this horrible flu. They were deeply in love before they even knew what the other looked like.
My parents grew up in the same town. My mom is a year older but they always knew each other. My dad came home from Sunday school one week when he was about nine years old and told his mother/my grandmother, "when I grow up, if I don't become a priest, I am going to marry Mary Fleig". Well, he went to the seminary but got kicked out for being irreverent. He was immediately was sent to Korea. They corresponded while he was there. He proposed when he returned and they got married six months later. My mom was pregnant nine times in nine years...probably a good thing he didn't become a priest! We didn't have a lot of money but there was never any doubt that they truly loved each other.
My maternal grandparents were both stationed in Rhode Island with the Navy in the early 1950s (my grandpa built weapons for submarines and my grandma was a nurse). One night, they were both out with friends to see a movie. My grandpa was standing in line when the woman behind him, my grandma, started touching his blonde curls and telling him how great his hair was (anyone who knew Mary Jane knew how on brand this behavior was).
They dated for two weeks before he was deployed to Europe and basically said to her, I don’t want to break up, so let’s get married. So they did! They were together for 50+ year and I miss them both terribly. ❤️