There are many good things about getting older but unfortunately our society holds aging as an inevitable downward spiral. That’s why I like to post about the positive when I find it. Tom and Helen are wonderful examples of a happy circumstance.
I have written two posts about them. After the excerpts below, I will give you an update.
My friend, Helen (not her real name), called me a few weeks ago. Without salutation she said, “I am in love.” I knew she was taking about Tom, a friend of more than 30 years.
Helen and her husband, and Tom and his wife, were friends back in California. After Helen and her husband moved to North Carolina, both couples sent Christmas letters over the years. Tom and Helen were the scribes. Helen called to give her condolences after Tom’s Christmas letter noted the tragic loss of his beloved wife after a brutal battle against Alzheimer’s. Soon the two were reconnecting and updating their lives. They found they had much in common.
“I’m going to tell him that I am not interested in a relationship,” she had told me. And then her phone call.
Their frequent phone calls and messages erupted into deep emotions. Tom flew from California to North Carolina for Christmas, leaving two days after the New Year. He stayed with Helen in her one-bedroom apartment. They laughed constantly. Sang familiar songs. Finished each other’s sentences. Fell into a routine as if they had co-habited for years!
And the sex was great!
Helen will visit Tom the end of this month. Both in their seventies, they are investigating on which coast they will live—together.
. . . Then there is my writing friend I call Helen who found true love with Tom. Longtime friends, they both lost their spouses and reconnected to find a “spark” that ignited “true love.”
I have heard from Helen recently. She and Tom are now living together in California.
“Tom and I have ten children and stepchildren between us. His live on the west coast, mine on the east coast. And he has a fulltime job in California. We haven’t figured out how to navigate these difficulties yet.”
Recently, they traveled to the east coast to attend one of Helen’s grandchildren’s graduations. “Thanks for making my Nana so happy,” her fifteen-year-old grandson told Tom during that trip.
“Our love is truly a miracle for us both,” Helen writes. “Tom is one of the nicest people I have ever known, and there is an ease and flow to our days.”
They work out at a gym several evenings a week and they both swim a quarter of a mile most nights. Both have lost weight—fifteen pounds each–and leave the gym “energized and with a sense of relaxed well-being. Not bad for almost seventy-nine.”
Helen ended her email by writing, “We have trouble letting go of the evening and going to bed, like two little kids. I joked recently that we need a parent. But all is not lost — we do still brush our teeth.”
Tom and Helen now live in Florida. She turned 80 the week before we met. Tom is a few years younger and just recently retired. They came to Raleigh last week to see Helen’s daughter and granddaughter.
During their visit, I had lunch with Helen at a Thai restaurant. Tom dropped her off so we could have some “girl-friend” time together.
Helen filled me in on her life with Tom for the past two years as her vegan noodle dish cooled in front of her. Happiness lit up her face when she described their partnership filled with respect, trust and intimacy.
As impressed as I was over the psychosocial gains their relationship provided, the gerontological nurse practitioner side of me rejoiced in the physical gains, too.
They continue to swim three times a week, reaching a mile at least twice a month. With the exercise routine that Tom developed and a new interest in ping-pong—they bought a table and take private lessons—both have lost weight. Helen no longer needs to take blood pressure medication.
Sitting next to them on a park bench near the Thai restaurant after lunch, I observed the obvious affection they hold for each other.
Getting older isn’t always a bummer. There are truly magical moments. I have witnessed one.