I’d been single, nine years, and like many of you, I knew that I could live well without a man. I loved my career. I’d travelled. I’d been to Bali and Bancock, New Zealand and Israel. I’d climbed mountains and ridden camels.
Still, I needed a dance partner, and I wanted a companion for my later years. Finding a suitable mate after you’ve reached the age of fifty is not easy, especially for a woman. Add to that my vocation and you can see my difficulty.
I remember a conversation with an attractive man that took place as we danced.
“What do you do for a living?” he asked.
I tried to keep it light as I said, “Oh, I’m a United Church minister.”
“A what?” he exclaimed as he pushed me out to arms length.
The music ended, and he steered me back to my table.
After that experience, I dreamed up a truthful, but less intimidating answer to that inevitable question concerning my occupation. When asked what I did for a living, I would smile sweetly and say, “Oh, I’m middle management for a world wide corporation.” Somehow, men were impressed with that answer.
Even with a whole congregation rooting for me, there just didn’t seem to be any desirable eligible men to choose from. Consequently, fifteen years ago, I took a deep breath, joined the modern world and placed my profile on an internet dating service. I called myself “Lover of Life”. Why? Well, boredom does not exist in my dictionary. For me, life is exciting, and I want to live it as fully as possible. If there was a man out there who could swallow my career, had a strong faith, loved to dance, and didn’t smoke, I wanted him to know that I wasn’t a couch potato or negative. I preferred tall, and lots of hair. My first husband was bald, and only a couple of inches taller than me. On the internet, I discovered that window shopping for men is fun. I had all the pleasure of looking them over without having to worry about embarrassing them, or me. It took more than two years of meeting and dating before I met Tom. Now, after twelve years of marriage I know he was worth the wait and the search. He’s everything I prayed for and more. For me he is the sign of God’s Grace I needed in order to forgive myself for being divorced. God has a sense of humour. Tom has lots of hair at my eye level, where it spills over his open collar shirts, but not much on top, where I can’t see it anyway.
A Busy Life
Young Moms lead busy lives. Mine hasn’t slowed down much, even though I’m retired and the kids are grown. Why? I volunteer for things, not because I feel guilty but because they sound interesting, and I want to use the gifts God has given me. I have time now to try all kinds of new things, and I love it. Challenge has an exhilarating side. For me, it’s fun to just dive into something new and learn along the way. Some of my friends think I’m courageous. Others think I’m crazy.
The down side to that part of my personality is that I can get as overloaded with responsibilities, as I used to be when I had small children and was working full time. I’ve always resisted keeping a daytimer. I love to say, “Yes” to an unexpected opportunity. This means I can easily become double booked. I’ve prayed a lot of “help me” prayers as I called to tell a friend or a colleague that I’d be arriving late, or I needed to change our appointment.
Relationships, My Priority
The first time I got married, at the age of nineteen, I thought I knew everything about loving and relationships. Twenty-seven years later, when that marriage ended I realized that I knew very little. Twelve years as a single person, five spent receiving counseling, prepared me to try marriage again. This time, I let God do the choosing. God obviously has good taste. My Tom is fabulous. He cooks, he dances, he’s my best friend and a wonderful lover. I am blessed.
I can hear some of you saying, “Right, your new relationship isn’t stressed by children or work.” And you’re right, of course, although Tom and I live within a blended family of five children between us. I told him at the beginning of our relationship that I am a “package deal”. Love me, love my three children and my grandchildren, all seven of them. He was the same. He has only two, and one infant grandson. Blending families isn’t easy. We focused on our love for our children and our desire to be happy together. We prayed a lot and waited patiently for our children to grow into acceptance of us as a couple. Together, we’ve weathered a multitude of family gatherings, shivered at hockey games and broiled at rugby games. Tom has become truly grandpa and the love is mutual.
As for work, well we both worked full time at the beginning. Tom retired first. Six years ago, I retired too, sort of. No, I just changed my focus. Instead of a whole congregation of people to care for, I now write, publish and sell books. No, not me alone, for Tom has accepted the package totally. Besides being my biggest fan, he’s my editor and my support.
Friends are precious. How could any of us survive without our friends? Some of you may be like me, in that you’ve moved a lot in your lives. Over the years, I’ve said a lot of tearful goodbyes. One friendship, has endured. We have shared laughter and tears with Richard and Nancy Miller for forty years (Tom only twelve). Everywhere I moved, Nancy’s letters and their visits followed me. Sometimes they made the biggest effort at maintaining our friendship. Sometimes I did. Always they were there. They carried me through the divorce, when I knew they were hurting. My former husband was their friend too.
I encourage you to work hard at keeping your close friendships. Don’t let today’s transient lifestyle rob you of the blessing of lifetime relationships. Friends are priceless just like family.
There’s lots of overlap between friends and church family. Sometimes when you’re busy with small children and work outside the home, you don’t have time to search out friends as you settle into a new place. As I moved from community to community, I found lasting friendships within the church. The commonality of values and love for God that we share within the church family, offers a foundation for strong relationships. My friendship with Rich and Nancy started in the church. We were the established family, when Richard came from the United States to be our pastor. I remember their arrival in Porcupine, Ontario. Three small children tumbled out of the car, followed by an exhausted Nancy. Richard drove up in the U-haul truck just a few minutes later. My three kids, just a couple of years older, added to the chaos. I just wanted to give her a hug.