When Carol Denker interviewed me for her magnificent Autumn Romance, she started with this prelimary questionnaire. I came across it today and wanted to share it with you, as Valentine’s Day approaches:
CD: What advice would you give to individuals over 50 who are looking for love?
JP: Participate in social activities that you love, and you’ll meet people with similar passions. In my case, I loved line dancing — in fact, I taught line dancing.
Friends told me, “You’ll never meet a man line dancing!” It was true that 90+% of line dancers are women, but one evening a magnificent white-haired man came to my class. When he turned his ocean-blue eyes my way, I had to remember to breathe. When he started to dance, his movements revealed a lifetime of dance training
That was how I met Robert Rice, the love of my life, a man who happened to be looking for a new place to dance in December 2000.
CD: What have you learned about love from this relationship?
JP: I had no idea how deeply I could love and how precious later-life love could be. We seemed very different at first, and both of us were fiercely independent and – we thought! – unwilling to change at this stage of life to suit another person’s needs or expectations.
But I learned that the ways I needed to change to be bonded to Robert were exactly the ways I wanted to grow – and he learned the same.
We were so in love that our differences stopped mattering, and then all but disappeared, as we learned from each other and grew together in love.
When Robert was sick and on his journey to death, I learned how selflessly I was capable of loving. I learned to be less demanding and more giving. I learned to savor every moment, knowing we were on borrowed time. All that mattered was how precious he was and doing all I could to make his last months, weeks, days as comfortable, peaceful, and love-filled as I could.
Near the end, we learned to say “I love you” through squeezing each other’s hand. When I touched his chest softly and he murmured in response, we were making love.