The seating for meals in the assisted-living facility was assigned, so Ethel sat down to dinner with the same five people she always ate with. While the rest of the table spoke about this or that, Ethel’s attention was drawn to a man on the other side of the room who was seated with only one other person at a table that faced a wall. He was new there and ever since she’d seen him, Ethel couldn’t stop paying attention to him. There was something about him. Some energy or charisma that emanated from his core.
It was the same type of energy that her late husband, Louis had once commanded. Oh, how she missed Louis. And, thinking of Louis, Ethel instinctively grabbed the engagement ring that hung on a thin platinum chain around her neck. Louis’s mother had purchased three diamond rings, one for each of her three sons. The other two brothers took their ring but Louis didn't want to use it, so on Louis and Ethel’s first wedding anniversary, Louis’ mother-in-law gave Ethel the ring. Ethel wore the ring for forty-two years. When it was too small to fit on her swollen hands, she made it into a necklace.
The man on the other side of the room laughed. Again Ethel clutched the necklace and thought of Louis. They met at Eddy Farm in Port Jervis, New York, situated right alongside the banks of the Delaware River. Ethel was immediately attracted to Louis because she could tell he was a great person with a great personality. They played golf and tennis together. They went to dances and walks around the property. After nine years of dating they married and had a beautiful life together. When Louis died in 2000, Ethel was devastated.
The man on the other side of the room laughed again and almost before she knew what she was doing, Ethel flagged one of the wait staff over to her table. She pointed at the man on the other side of the room.
“You can tell that man he is free to join our table if he would like.”
The man took Ethel up on the offer. His name was Frank. He’d also been happily married but his wife had died the same year Louis passed away. He was new to the assisted living facility and it just so happened his room was right down the hall from Ethel’s.
Ethel and Frank’s relationship bloomed quickly. They ate all of their meals at the same table. They went for walks. Frank always saved Ethel a seat in the bingo room. They went out to the movies. Frank would drive the both of them to church. Sometimes when Frank would drop Ethel off at her room they would even share a quick kiss. Neither of them ever thought they would fall in love again, but they proved to each other that it was never too late to fall in love.
Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“How do you deal with losing two men that you loved?”
“At least I fell in love with two men. Not everyone falls in love with one person, let alone two. So I don’t look at it as a sad thing, I look at it as a blessing.”
“Would Louis have cared that you fell in love with another man?”
“No. He wasn't the jealous type – he would have wanted me to be happy.”
“I think there is a perception amongst younger people that once you reach a certain age you no longer crave intimacy or the romantic love of another person.”
“That’s not true. People are only as old as they feel. I’ll be 90 years old next year. Do I feel old? No. Do I act old? No. There are some people that are 50 years old that are “older” than me. I may be 89 but I am still a person and people always crave love and intimacy and companionship. Frank made a big difference in my life.”
“Any life advice?”
“One thing: always smile.”