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Love Lab


(Re-)Finding Love at the Age of 80

My grandmother has a boyfriend. I grew up with the best grandparents one could possibly imagine, that I can say without a single doubt in my mind. I used to pop in to see how they were on my way back from school, almost every day, and they always seemed to appreciate it. My grandpa had clearly been a handsome young man; he used to play soccer and once owned a hardware store. I could see why my grandma would have married him, even though I mostly remember grandpa as an old man. He got old faster than my grandma, if that makes any sense, but she was always there to cater for his every need. I used to think of them as that dream couple, because even though grandma had to work hard to keep up with everything and to help grandpa – it was worth it to her. I could see from how they looked at each other that what they shared was true love. My grandpa died about 7 years ago.

My grandmother was 75 when he died and it broke her heart. I went to his funeral and I still regret it, because the pain I saw my grandmother in still haunts me. She was never the same after that. Time passed, but there was a big cloud of sadness and despare hanging over her. Grandpa’s death had reduced her into nothing, and even I could see that she had lost her purpose for living. It was as if she got smaller for every day and I started fearing that her grief would come to reunite her with grandpa all too soon. She had lost the love of her life.

It was about 5 years after grandpa’s death that I went to spend summer with her. We have always had a bit of a special relationship, grandma and I, and I wanted to take the chance to spend some time with her. Best decision I have ever made. I got to know more about her, outside the frame of her being my grandmother, and funny as it was she seemed to be doing a lot better. Stronger. It gave me hope that I might get to keep her a little longer after all.

“I have invited a friend to come spend some time with us,” she said one day, which surprised me. Grandma never brought friends around. When I asked her who it was she told me his name was Roger. He? A man? Yes, she told me, he was an old friend of hers and grandpa’s and they had met up a couple of times over the past few months. I thought it sounded nice that she had reconnected with an old friend.

When this man, Roger, came about I realized right away that he was a lot more than a friend to her. It was all in the way that he looked at her and how he stroke her cheak when he thought I wasn’t looking. Roger was tall and quite well-preserved for an 85 year old man. He had authority and in the same time a glimpse in his eye, similar to the that of a little boy. Something told me he was (or had been?) the kind of a man who doesn’t always play by the rules. I liked him, and well, so did grandma.

It was one evening when we sat down at the dinner table that I decided to ask them how they met. The answer would come as a surprise to me. As soon as I asked their eyes met and Roger reached out for my grandmother’s hand across the table. There it was, that look that I had seen her and my grandpa share. They both smiled and kept looking at each other. Was I missing something? At last, grandma straightened up and turned to look at me.

“I knew Roger when I was young,” she said, choosing her words wisely, “before I married your grandfather. They were friends.”

Grandma! Dating grandpa’s friend? Now that’s not something I had ever thought I would hear her say. Turns out, however, that the story didn’t end there. She continued telling me that when she was young there had been two young boys at her school who had both taken an interest in her. My grandfather, and Roger. They had started out as friends but as they both started to fall for grandma – their friendship ended. Grandma told me that they had competed for her attention, waited for her after school to walk her home, brought her little gifts… she had felt special. Two handsome young men wanting nothing more than for her to be theirs. “Your grandmother was always very beautiful,” Roger cut in, “just like now.” After that they told me how Roger had almost won my grandmother’s heart and how it had been very close that they ended up getting married. Then, however, my grandpa’s dad had had a tragic accident and passed away. My grandmother had felt so sorry for him. Suddenly he had been left without anyone to lean on, and it became natural for my grandmother to assume that role. Roger understood and took a step back. “Biggest mistake I ever made,” he said sincerely.

They never really spoke again after that. Yes, they had run into each other by accident a few times, but my grandpa had been jealous and he had made sure to get my grandma away from there as soon as possible. “Stay away from him,” he had said, which I suppose was understandable with their history in mind.

I was told that Roger had been married three times since then, but it had always ended in divorce. “It never worked with any of them,” he said, “because the woman for me was always your grandmother.” He had heard the news of my grandpa’s death through mutual friends, but out of respect he had refrained from contacting grandma. He waited five years before calling her. “I had already waited for over 60 years,” he said with a smile, “what harm would five more do?”

Roger looked at grandma, grandma looked at him, and then they both looked at me. “You see,” grandma said and her eyes gleamed, “true love never dies. Remember that.”

… That is perhaps the best love story I have ever heard in my life. I am not very romantic, but if I was ever to believe in true love – that was the moment. Roger and my grandma live together now and grandma seems happier than I have seen her in many years. I have no doubt in my mind that she loved grandpa with all her heart, but it is also amazing to see that two people can reconnect after so many years. Roger and my grandmother started their love story when she was about 15, but then life came in the way. Now grandma is well over 80 and they are together again. Her teenage love. Her first love. I am sure my grandpa is happy, wherever he is, to see grandma happy again. …Even if she found that happiness with his old rival.

The lesson here is that true love does exist, that it is never too late to find happiness and that sometimes we get a second chance at things we might think we lost. “True love never dies,” grandma said to me that day, and looking at her now – I believe her.


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