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Believe in Second Chance Love

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One might wonder when they see an old couple, what they must have been like as young people. I do. Now wrinkled and hunched, slow in step with tired bodies, surely they’ve weathered the years through shared views and single-minded beliefs. I’m often curious about their past, what experiences they’ve been through and put each other through. How many times they’ve put aside their hard lines and worked it out. I’m in awe of these old married couples; carrying their wounds and their triumphs together until the end, in the name of love. Oh, silly, romantic girl you say? Yep.

I’m married. Happily. To the only guy I’ve ever loved. After 40 years together I’m not stretching to call our relationship “old love” because we met when we were twelve and began dating in high school.

We’re a normal couple, relatively speaking. As anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship will attest, it’s not all roses and rainbows every day of the week. As much as he (still) makes my heart go pitter-patter, there have been occasions when a Louisville Slugger would have solved some domestic issues — on both sides. Luckily, cooler heads always prevailed and we more often than not retreated to opposite corners to cool off and then split a bottle of wine. In between the rises and falls we laughed. A lot. I’d put us in the win column.

We were going along nicely, in a period I sweetly called “comfortable boredom”; working, raising a family, planting a vegetable garden…when my husband was diagnosed with late stage cancer. No exaggeration to say this news knocked the wind out of us.

It felt as if we’d been hurled off the side of a cliff into a black abyss without a parachute.

Without much warning I feared losing the man of my dreams. The details are too many for this post, but the professional consensus given was to go home to settle our “affairs”. Not something you want to hear, ever, especially when you’re mortgage heavy and with young kids to feed.

The end of the story is a happy one. Defying all odds my husband survived, and after several years of treatments we emerged a stronger couple. We found our old love that wasn’t really lost. It just had collected dust like a cherished piece of art set on a shelf. We loved it, looked at it, occasionally dusted it, but took it for granted — that something we expected to be with us, I don’t know, like forever? might fall and break.

The physical and mental scars are reminders of where we had been and how hard we’d fought. Together. Today we continue on, one of the lucky couples who got a second chance at love.

As I get older my appreciation for romantic enduring love, especially after life has thrown you a few curves, makes me a bit giddy. I am a sucker for “old love” and believe all the cliches and song lines: “Love Will Find A Way”, “All You Need Is Love”, “Love Will Keep Us Together”…

I believe in the love of good men and women, however it manifests. And I believe love finds a way to continue or renew. Call it fate, call it blind trust, call it destiny.

Today we met Gus and Dottie, a lovely couple in their mid-late 70s, having dinner in a small Greek diner about 1,500 miles from our home in New England. They were in a booth near us speaking with the owner, in Greek.

Gus overheard our Boston accent and stopped at our table on the way out. We exchanged niceties and learned he and Dottie were from a Boston suburb. I mentioned that my daughter lives in Union Square. This excited Gus, as his family opened the original Union Square Diner.

He went on to tell some wonderful and funny stories about his and Dottie’s life together. They met at the diner some sixty years ago when she was a young waitress, but her romantic interest was with another boy. Forward another fifty or so years when they met again. By then both were widowed and retired. Somehow their lives were meant to cross for a short time early on, only to reunite many years later. Today, Gus and Dottie have been married for 10 years. Second chance love.

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