Playing it Safe

After my husband died six years ago and our son, Leon moved out, I had to sell our house and find an apartment.  Leon’s now living in Atlanta with his family.  They have encouraged me to move in with them but I think I should.  For the first time in my life, I feel completely alone and until now, I’ve never lived by myself.  It took a while to adjust being on my own.  I went from living with my parents straight to living with my husband when we married soon after we graduated from university.  I became a housewife while he became a top notch attorney at a predominantly white firm. 

We lived in a nice, safe suburban neighborhood and were happy until one terrible day he didn’t come home but a policeman showed up on our doorstep to give me the news that turned my world upside down.  It had been a hit and run.  George was crossing the road after leaving a flower shop where he had gone to buy a bouquet of yellow carnations, my favorite.  He had gotten them for my fiftieth birthday.  What should have been a day of celebration had become a day of mourning.  Now whenever my birthday comes around, I think of George and feel guilty because if it hadn’t been for me he would still be alive. 

Instead of celebrating my birthday with family or friends or even by myself, I visit George’s grave and spend a couple of hours there, just reflecting on our life together. We were so happy together. There were times when I felt that I couldn’t go on without him.  People keep telling me that George wouldn’t want me to continue like this.  He would want me to get on with my life.  They speak as if he has personally told them these things which wasn’t likely, of course, seeing that the dead can’t speak. 

My best friend, Doreen has been encouraging me to date but I can’t see myself doing that.  Six years seem too soon to even think about meeting and dating different men.  I’m fifty-four and am going through perimenopause. The men my age want to be with much younger women.  And I can’t see myself with a younger man.  I honestly believed that until I met Hadrien, a friend of Ian, Doreen’s husband.  Ian introduced us. 

I was taken aback by how attracted I was to him. I fought against it with every fibre of my being.  I felt as if I were being disloyal to George.  When Hadrien came out on the terrace where I was admiring the panoramic view of the city, I wanted to bolt but I remained where I was, watching him warily.  I didn’t say much.  He did most of the talking. Then, he asked me to have dinner with him but I turned him down.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to but I was afraid to.  I was afraid of falling in love with him and that he would leave me one day for a woman his age. There must have been at least fifteen years between us. I wanted to play it safe.

“Why wouldn’t you have dinner with me?” he asked, moving closer.

My heart was racing. This close, he was so disarming. I wanted to brush his hair back from his forehead. He smelled really good. His eyes held mine in a steady gaze. “How old are you?” I asked.

“Thirty-eight. Why?”

“I’m–I’m too old for you,” I said. “I’m–I’m fifty-four and I have a married twenty-five year old son. I’m a grandmother.”

“I know,” he said. “And it doesn’t matter. I think you’re an exceptional woman and I truly want to be in a relationship with you. Have dinner with me tomorrow evening.”

“All right,” I replied breathlessly. I could hardly think straight with him staring at me like that.

We stayed out there on the terrace for a while longer and then it was time for me to go. “Goodnight, Hadrian” I said, almost apologetically.

He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. When he drew back, we were both breathing heavily. “Goodnight, Patsy,” he replied quietly, his face slightly flushed.

I walked away from him as quickly as my trembling legs could carry me. I said my goodbyes to the others and left.

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Dinner was a wonderful experience. I had such an incredible time. Afterwards, we went back to my place for a nightcap. We began dating and in the spring, he took me to Athens to meet his parents and two younger sisters. They were all warm and welcoming. My age didn’t seem to matter to them at all. His mother even said to me as she patted my hand, “When you make my Hadrian happy you make me happy.”

After we returned to London from spending three glorious weeks in Greece, I invited Hadrian over for dinner so that he could meet my son, Leon and his wife, Claire. The three of them hit it off and the following day, Leon called and told me that he was happy to see that I had found love again.

“Don’t worry about the age difference, Mama,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. Hadrian is a great guy. It’s obvious that he’s crazy about you. Don’t throw your happiness away on something as insignificant and unimportant as age. God blessed you with Dad and now He has blessed you with Hadrian. Just accept the blessing. You know Dad would want you to move on and be happy.”

I took Leon’s advice and put the whole age difference nonsense out of my mind. So, I was in love with a man much younger than me, so what? It felt great and so liberating to love and be loved by a younger man. And the important thing is that we made each other happy. So, when he asked me to marry him, I didn’t hesitate. I said yes and two months later, we got married in Athens. Leon gave me away and Claire was my matron of honor and my two grand-daughters the flower girls. It was such a beautiful and touching ceremony. There were hardly any dry eyes.

The reception was held at on his family’s large estate and over delectable Mediterranean food and the music of a live band, we celebrated well into the wee hours of the morning. Two days later, we left Athens and flew to the lovely island of Santorini for our honeymoon.

As we stood on the balcony of our suite, gazing at the setting sun, his arms wrapped around me and me leaning snugly and contentedly against him, I thanked God for being so good to me.

Life is not about playing it safe but stepping out in faith and into God’s blessings for you.

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