Senior Moments: When you are lucky enough to find love, embrace it

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I had asked the moon to deliver lemon seeds from my tree in hopes of growing a miracle for my seriously ill cousin – but a miracle had actually come along for her years before.

On January 3, as complications from COVID-19 sent 88-year-old Sheila Bunin on to whatever comes next, she’d been calling out to her beloved Joe.

I could say they had an ideal love story of late in life romance. Instead, I will address what it simply was, love. Still, there is nothing simple about love at 80. It explodes with possibility because we know too much to take it for granted. At least Sheila and Joe did.

They had both been widowed after long marriages and there were lots of children, grandchildren and great-grands scattered over a variety of geographic areas. So you could say they had the “we have a lot in common” box checked. They understood loss and they understood blessings, and…they were wise enough to nourish the one they found together.

I only knew Joe from Sheila‘s phone calls and emails, one of the side effects of living across the country from her. The picture she painted with her photos and stories radiated happiness so strongly I could breathe it in. During the eight years they were together, the last years of their lives, I fell in love with Joe through her descriptions. We cried together on the phone when he died four months ago.

My cousin, on the other hand, has been my hero since I was invited to attend her wedding to my cousin Herbert when I was 10 years old. In those days, children were generally a no-no at weddings. But Sheila loved children and I loved her.

When the door to the bridal room opened and she floated across the threshold draped in folds of white satin I gasped,

“May I touch your dress?” I asked, certain it would be forbidden.

“Of course,” she replied, flashing that warm hug of a smile that would bond her to be from then on.

No matter how many years passed, every time I thought of Sheila, I saw her wrapped in folds of white satin, radiant and happy. During these last years, I saw her with Joe, happy and in love. And I heard his children bless her for the joy she brought into their father’s life.

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Among the abundance of positives I learned from my hero cousin, this may be the most valuable. Love is love, at any age. When you are lucky enough to find it, embrace it, dance with it,

Borrowing a sentiment from folk singer Tom Paxton’s “My Ramblin Boy,” if when we die we go somewhere, I’ll bet you a dollar they’re dancing there.

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