She was sitting in the community park admiring this small countryside area with all its verdant vegetation. An oasis in the centre of town and she inhaled deeply. A nice looking, well-kept older man approaches.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” he asks.
“Not at all,” she responded. “It’s a beautiful morning.”
“Did you see the heron down by the river?”
“No, but I did see a squirrel. Does that count?”
They are both smiling now.
“Do you come here often?” he questioned.
What? She thought that she hadn’t heard that line since she was in her twenties and single. She was now seventy-four years old and single by default. He looked about the same age.
“Uh – I like to walk so I either come here or the hike and bike trail, wherever I can avoid traffic and noise,” was her response.
“Yes,” he said. It’s good to get out and about.”
Getting up to leave, she said all the polite words, thanks for the chat, nice to meet you …
He stands and holds out his hand. “I’m Tom,” he says. “And you are?”
“My name is Mary,” she says reluctantly. “Bye for now” and resumed her walk.
A few days later, Mary is strolling in the park again and spots Tom sitting at one of the stone picnic tables.
“Hi Mary,” he calls out. “I was hoping to see you again. I’ve got coffee in my thermos and just happen to have an extra cup. Will you join me?”
She hesitated. It wasn’t like she was busy or in a rush. “That would be nice,” she responded and sat down opposite him.
They talked about being seniors and both wondered how it had happened so fast. He had been widowed for several years and still felt the void of living alone. Mary missed having someone to daily converse with and attend social functions. Wherever she went, it seemed everyone was coupled up or is it more noticeable when one is single?
“Would you like to continue walking?” questioned Tom. “It’s still early and we could stroll along part of the Hike and Bike trail.”
“Okay.” she said. “I should warn you that I often sit along the way. I enjoy watching the river current and just smelling the greenery of the trees and bushes. It’s so relaxing and good for the soul.”
Tom readily agreed and they started off. Shyly, he took her hand and was relieved when she did not pull back. They walked and talked up to the second bridge, then sat on a nearby bench.
“I’m really enjoying this walk together.” he said. “You are great company and I feel so comfortable with you, it’s as if I’ve known you for a long time.”
Mary smiled at him and said she felt the same way. Returning to their cars at the park, they exchanged phone numbers and addresses.
“Um – do you like live theatre?” asked Tom.
“Oh yes,” Mary responded with enthusiasm.
“Well – uh – um. I’ve got two tickets for the upcoming production at the Venables theatre. I would pick you up and deliver you safely home.”
“Are you asking me on a date?” Mary queried.
“I think so. I’m long out of practice.” he said.
She made it easy for him. “I’d love to go with you,” was her response.
Thus began the courtship of Mary and Tom.
One Saturday, they headed to the Oliver Seniors centre, to take in the morning dance. The live band was comprised of volunteer seniors and played lively two steps, waltzes and generally old time dance music. Mary found Tom to be an excellent dancer, as was she. They twirled and whirled with some of the other seniors clapping for them. The band leader decided to speed things up and selected a rock and roll tune just for them. They both could jive and were in their 1950’s element. The floor was cleared as other seniors cheered them on. Then it was time for a break with coffee and doughnuts available. Afterwards, he drove her home and hesitated at the door. He gently kissed her in a very chaste manner.
“I think a man like you can do better,” she said.
And he did.
They continued their daily walks with gloved hands now, as winter approached. They alternated homes and enjoyed cooking meals and drinking wine together with much comradeship and laughter ensuing.
It was getting colder and they couldn’t always walk about with ice on the pathways and experienced occasional snowfalls which were rare for Oliver. Tom suggested they go on a trip south of the border. “How about we drive to Nevada or Arizona?” he asked.
“It would be lovely. Let’s do it,” she responded with enthusiasm.
They got married in Laughlin, Nevada. After the brief ceremony, they sat side by side on the banks of the Colorado River and looked out at the future together.
The winter season of their lives had just begun.