The Younger Man

Sharon Gale

When I moved to Sun Lakes, the women I met always had to ask three questions: “Where are you from?” “Are you married?” “How long have you been married?” Following the social norm, I found myself asking the same questions to women I met for the first time.

The answers were interesting but rather boring after a while, so I thought to add just a little twist to my answer. After the question, “Are you married?” I would add “I married a younger man.” Then I would have to add, “You know, second marriage.”

The expression on the new friend’s face would be pleasant, and then she would ask, “Oh, how much younger?” I then said, “five years.” The answer to that was, “Oh, that’s not very much.” I agreed.

My first husband, as many of his doctor friends did, for the second marriage, married someone 15 years younger. That seemed to be standard for second marriages, and mine didn’t even come close.

The first time I met the “younger man,” he was in full dress military uniform, was 37 years old, and looked like a kid dressed for a costume party. I was 42, divorced with teenage children, teaching school, and doing quite well on my own. It took this young man two weeks to call me for a date. Our first date was a true experience as my son and daughter waited anxiously for him to come to pick me up. When he drove into the driveway, there were “oohs and aahs” from them, because he picked me up in a silver Corvette! We decided to date, travel, have fun in whatever spare time we had, and to never get married again.

This man was honest, giving, and fun. He actually listened to an “older” woman’s ideas and experiences in life and tolerated my growing children. Military orders were thrust into these good times, and off he went to Korea. I didn’t quite know how to handle this, so I called a meeting. You know, the kind that ask questions more than answer them. We drove up to the top of a mountain above my school, and I asked him point blank: “What am I to do when you are gone for a year?” His answer was to the point and not too emotional when he said, “I can’t make a commitment now.” I returned by saying, “You are young enough to get married and have your own family, so I understand.” With that, the older woman said to herself, “Well, so much for that!”

As the days dragged on, there were several phone calls across the Pacific keeping up with activities and friends. However, one day a phone call came, and he was back in Houston where his parents lived. He was on emergency leave, because his father had passed away unexpectedly. After he helped his mother get situated and had her health issues taken care of, he went back to Korea. The next phone call was to him from me. My father had passed away. My mother had passed away five years earlier, and as the only child, I had all the responsibilities of the aftermath. Our phone calls were costing hundreds of dollars, as I needed his help with my father’s estate. The “younger man” was much more knowledgeable than I in such matters.

The next phone call was from the younger man and, again, it was from Houston. He was again on emergency leave, because his mother had passed away. Eventually, after all the correct issues of life were taken care of, he came back to me. After talking about our families and the good memories we had both had, we went out to dinner.

Our favorite restaurant was a steakhouse, and it seated very few people. We sat at a table in the middle and had a glass of wine. The place was noisy but, somehow, I heard his words to me very clearly. He said, “We have been through a lot and I know this isn’t very romantic (as he pulled a black box out of his jacket) but let’s get married!” The whole place became quiet as they heard me scream, “YES!”

We have been married 36 years, traveled around the world, enjoyed my/our children and our grandchildren. Now we have been enjoying retirement for 20 years in a wonderful community full of truly interesting and friendly people. Whatever age difference that there was 39 years ago when we first started dating doesn’t make any difference. Life and love, and I have to add trust, mean everything. I am so lucky to be the older woman that met a younger man.