Our Passionate Autumn Love Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the true story of a love affair between two widowed people who were 70 years old. Love and passion do not belong only to the young, as we discovered to our mutual joy.

Submitted: April 13, 2010

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 13, 2010



Our A


Our Autumn Love Story


Chapter 1


If you had asked me when I was in my twenties whether two people seventy years old could have an ardent love affair, I would have laughed at you. After all, they would have been older than my grandparents! Maybe they could sit side by side in two rocking chairs holding hands, but that is about as physical a relationship as I could have imagined at that advanced age. I would have been so wrong! This is a true story about passionate love in the autumn years of life, and rocking chairs were no part of it.


Katie and I celebrated our third anniversary in November, 2009. I joked to friends that it was actually our collective 95th anniversary, since each of us had been married for 46 years to our late spouses before their deaths. We celebrated our third honeymoon with a week’s vacation in Florida. Actually, the life we were living was all one long honeymoon, which ended only with her death of a massive heart attack the following week.


We really have limited control of what others think of us. Those who didn’t know us well thought of my wife, Katie, as a sweet, refined, quiet woman. Those who didn’t know me well thought of me as stiff, reserved, and aloof. It is odd how easily people can form opinions that are totally mistaken. The story of our marriage and life together certainly did not reflect those characterizations. We were certainly neither quiet or reserved – quite the opposite. Kate had a warm, playful, loving, and mischievous side that wasn’t apparent to most people. And I was anything but stiff and aloof. I discovered that you could indeed fool some of the people all of the time. It was three years of passionate love, and all too short.


I will always remember her as she was in the first picture I ever took of her, before we became engaged. I have many pictures of her during our three years of marriage, but this still remains my favorite. She looked lovely then, and never ceased to do so. How she managed this without the help of cosmetic techniques must have come from her genes.

My first wife and I met Katie and her husband in the early 1980s, when they lived across the valley from us near Pittsburgh. Our friendship continued to grow as time passed, and her husband and I became closer, serving on our church board together. When I was elected as chairman, the board confirmed my friend as my assistant, and we worked well together. Both couples were very active in the church for many years.


As time went on, the two families met nearly every Friday evening for drinks and dinner, and at either their house or ours for holiday dinners and celebrations. In time, we were more of an extended family, including our children, rather than just two couples who knew each other. When we got together, it seemed that the men talked mostly to each other, as did the women. While we didn’t ignore each other, it wasn’t our main objective to have a four-way conversation. I never really got to know my friend’s wife, although I enjoyed her company and admired her sense of humor, cuteness, and her winning ways. She was my friend’s wife, after all, and that kept me from showing any further interest, or becoming closer to her.

We drifted apart during her husband’s later years, as his body began to succumb to Parkinson’s and his mind to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, but still met occasionally at the nursing home where he stayed and at their condo. In 2003, while my first wife and I were in Australia visiting our friends, we got word of his passing. How the Lord kept an amazing and desirable woman like his wife available for me for three years, I will never know, but will be eternally thankful.


After our return that spring, my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and her long slide downhill began. Kate had nursed her husband for a number of years, and it was now my turn to be the caregiver. At each remission, our hopes rose, but I was aware from discussions with an Oncologist friend that the outcome was pretty certain, barring a miracle.


The fall of 2005 began the final decline that led to her death on the late evening of February 1, 2006. I was unprepared for the sense of loss and being alone, and I became somewhat of a recluse. Finally, on Memorial Day, I agreed to attend a large picnic held by a friend’s family. It was a depressing experience, as couple after couple came over to me to tell me how sorry they were about my wife’s death. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer, and left early to lick my wounds. Little did I know that life was about the change radically.


Chapter 2


In early June, good friends arrived from Australia for a ten-day visit. One of their must-dos for each visit was a trip to an outlet mall, an hour north of where we lived. I dreaded that day, since I would have to follow them around like a puppy dog. Then I had an inspiration. I remembered that Katie had gone with my first wife and me to the mall in the past, and I hoped she would join us for the trip. She knew our friends from earlier visits, and I was delighted when she agreed to join us.


We all chatted comfortably on the way up, and we sent the women off to shop. At noon, we took a break and had lunch at a nearby country inn, then shopped some more. Maybe it wasn’t a real “date,” but I did enjoy her company immensely, and she seemed to enjoy herself as well. At the end of the day, we dropped her off at her condo, and she gave us a quick tour. It was pleasant enough, but its six cozy rooms were a bit small for my taste.

In the weeks that followed, my daughter kept asking me when I was going to take my friend’s widow out to lunch or dinner. After spending a great deal of time keeping her dad company, she told my sister that I needed some grownup friends. She said that my friend’s widow and I both needed “companionship” and someone to share our loneliness.

I finally agreed. The evening started with a drink at her condo, followed by dinner at a nearby hotel. We sat at a table in the bar across from each other, and I was suddenly struck with just how beautiful, funny, attractive, clever and charming she really was. (How I had missed that in all the years I knew her, I will never know.) After sharing our grief for fifteen minutes or so, the evening was spent in real conversation. As the evening wore on, I realized that this was a truly delightful woman whom I had known for years, but never really knew. I was blown away. When I dropped her off at her condo, I think she was expecting a peck on the cheek. I couldn’t help myself, and gave her a real kiss. She later told a friend that it had made her toes curl. It certainly was electric for me, as well, and I told her to expect a call from me soon. On the way home, I took the wrong ramp on the interstate, and made a ten-mile unplanned detour. I had my head in the clouds. 

As we continued to meet, we became progressively more comfortable with each other, and I became more certain of my feelings. I had fallen totally and completely in love with her. As we sat on her deck overlooking the park in the late afternoons (which had become a regular event), I started a number of conversations with, “After we are married, do you think ……. ..


“She didn’t visibly react, but told her daughter, “He started using the “M” word.”


After a few more weeks, it occurred to me that I had never really asked her to marry me, and just assumed that is what would happen. I finally popped the question, and to my relief she said “Yes” and jumped on my lap and gave me a big kiss.

She invited me in for a nightcap after the first few dinners, and I gladly accepted. She sat on a side chair facing a very uncomfortable love seat, which seemed to be where I was supposed to sit. After sitting there and chatting a while, I asked whether she wouldn’t be more comfortable sitting beside me. She didn’t answer or hesitate, but came over and sat by my side.

It seemed only normal to put my arm around her, since after all, it was a love seat. We both seemed to be in the mood to cuddle, and we did the best that the unyielding furniture would allow. After our long history of years of care-giving, we were both really hungry for affection. Here we were, both near seventy, and feeling like teenagers.

As time passed, we discovered that the sitting room couch was far more comfortable, and gave up the fiction of the protection of that rigid love seat. It was far more pleasant.


Chapter 3

I decided that the decent thing to do would be to have a complete physical, so I scheduled one. Everything seemed to be OK, but my doctor suggested I also visit a psychological counselor.

I was a little nonplused at his suggestion but agreed. I asked him “Why?” He said, “Well, if you are going to be making love to your best friend’s widow, you need to make sure you are O.K. about it.”

The counselor was harmless enough, and we chatted on two occasions. Finally he said
that everything seemed just fine to him, but did I have any reservations whatsoever? I answered that I didn’t, but was concerned that my daughter might think it was too soon after her mother’s death for me to remarry. 

He suggested that I handle it by asking her what she thought would be an appropriate interval. Once she answered, he said, it would then be a matter of negotiating the exact timing. Great idea, I thought.


It turned out that all the conniving was totally unnecessary. The next day when I talked to my daughter, she asked, “When are you two going to get off your butts and get married?” Case closed. 

As we continued to get to know each other, I asked if she would mind if I called her “Kate.” instead on Katie. To me, Katie was my best friend’s wife, and I wasn’t comfortable calling her by that name, especially when we were being romantic. It wasn’t a problem to her, since her whole family in Ohio called her nothing else.


We spent nearly all of our free time together, including shopping and outings to such events as festivals and the Highland Games in Ligonier. Everywhere we went we looked and felt like a couple who had been together for years and years (except for the hand holding). We just couldn’t get enough of each other.

We even visited an abandoned blast furnace plant, where I could explain some of the business things I had talked about, but never could make her understand. And she did look good in a hard hat!

We did everything together, and I was disappointed to learn that she had promised to babysit her grandchildren in Dallas for two weeks in October. The weekend she was to return, I was hosting five fraternity brothers and their wives at my house for Homecoming Weekend.

A divorced friend, an early arrival, warned me to expect a “pity party” for my late wife, and that I needed to spring the news of my upcoming wedding early on. I decided the most subtle thing would be to give everyone a copy of our wedding invitation. It caused a wonderful commotion, and they all wished me the best.

The following day, while the crowd was at the football game, I picked Kate up at the Airport and brought her home. At cocktail time, my old college crowd got to meet her. Needless to say, she fit in easily, and became a member of the group almost instantly, and remained so for our whole life together.

Chapter 4 

I introduced her to some of my other friends she knew slightly or not at all. One asked her how she would adapt to living in the big house. It was a country manor house that had been originally built as a 20-room summer “cottage” for one of Pittsburgh’s steel barons in 1915. Her condo would have fit in the entry hall and living room of my house. She replied that it would be no problem, since she had grown up in a house like that. I gave her sort of a funny look, but didn’t interrupt, and our friends had a look of disbelief. As I learned more of her background, it all became clear.

 It turned out that she had grown up in a small town in Ohio, and I in a small suburb of Pittsburgh. She had spent some time living with a wealthy grandmother in a river-side mansion, nearly as large as my house, some at her other grandmother’s on her family farm, as well as in a small frame house in the town with her parents, so she learned to accommodate to whatever circumstances in which she found herself. 

My own upbringing was relatively dull, having moved only twice, both in the same small suburb. I found an outlet in excelling at school work, Boy Scouts, debating, and reading. Summers were spent on our family farm, so I understood some of her talk about her grandmother’s family farm in Ohio. Ours was really my father’s hobby farm, where he could get close to the soil on weekends, and relive his childhood, which was spent on a farm. It was also a chance to use my five sisters and me as slave laborers, when some of the crops needed to be picked.

Chapter 5 

We had decided on an early November wedding, and since she would be in Dallas with her grandchildren, it was up to me to get the invitations done, arrange for the reception, and become the “mother of the bride” as well as the groom. I liked the “groom” part, but wasn’t sure I was cut out to be the mother of the bride. 

It was only nine months after my first wife’s death, and a small wedding seemed appropriate. The chapel in our new church seated only eighty, so that kept the guest list short. 

It was a lovely chapel wedding, followed by a catered reception in our new home together. We even sneaked off to the bar during the reception for some personal time, but got caught. The two of us couldn’t stop smiling and touching each other. It seemed too good to be true. 

But it was!

At the end of the reception, her kids and my daughter didn’t want the evening to end, so we ended up being taken to the airport hotel, arriving at 2:30 AM, and had to get up and check in at 6:00 AM for our flight to Bermuda. We slept through our wedding night. Oh yes. Never fear, we made up for it later. Again and again!

Chapter 6

Bermuda was a place I had often visited, but Kate had been there only once.  She had stayed in the West End, near St. George’s, but I always preferred the East End, in Paget Parish. I got a Moped, had her fitted with a helmet, and off we went exploring, with her hanging on for dear life. 

We went from one end of the island to the other, and back again, visiting the huge fort at the Naval Dockyard. When she was younger, she had always dragged her kids into visiting forts when they traveled. She had finally found one that was too big for even her taste (the walls were nearly a mile around). “Never again,” she said, “do I want to visit another Fort!”

I also didn’t know that all hotels in Bermuda had been forced to adopt a strict “No Smoking” policy. So some evenings the two of us would sit on the porch of our cottage, while she tried to stay dry and I had my evening cigarette. Only a real lover would sit outside in a chilly drizzle to keep her husband company while he had a cigarette.

In November, the ocean water was getting a bit chilly, so some days we just sat on the beach in the sun, and only waded. We stayed in what used to be a fine cottage colony hotel, the Ariel Sands, but it was in the process of being converted to a condo development, and the main building of the hotel was to be the clubhouse.  Many afternoons I would go down to the main hotel building to keep up with emails and the stock market. Kate would just sit in the sun by our cottage and read.  Or for just a quick nap before dinner. And sometimes more than that!

Some days, we would go down to the Elbow Beach Club, where Kate found a chair that was just her size, and I found the
terrace bar.

Chapter 7

When we got home, we had some adjustments to make. I told her that every morning my first wife would bring a cup of coffee up to the bathroom for me to drink while I was shaving.


She told me, “Cherish that memory!”  Rats!


But the next morning when I woke up, a new four-cup coffee maker was in the bathroom, and the coffee nicely brewed. 


The next summer, we both enjoyed the upstairs coffee together. We had a large porch off our bedroom, with two chaise lounges and a view overlooking the garden and across the valley. On warm summer mornings, after pouring our coffee, the two of us would go out on the porch, and sometimes watch the sun rise, still in our night clothes. When she stood at the railing in her lace nightgown with the sun at her back, her silhouette was a truly erotic sight. We discovered that you can do more than “lounge” in a chaise lounge. 

After our first breakfast at home, I cleared my empty plate off the table and took it to the sink. She seemed pleased and surprised, and told me it was such a nice gesture. Since I always had to clear my own place when I was widowed, it didn’t seem like such a big deal to me, but if it pleased her, all the better. Through our married life, we both always went out of our way to please one another. Everything we did for each other was so much mutually appreciated, that we couldn’t stop trying to find new ways to bring joy to each other, in small and large ways. 


Our years of celibacy during our first spouse’s long illnesses left us really hungry for affection. We both attended and were active in our church, Kate volunteering two days a week, and I serving as an elder statesman counselor. It is a misconception that real Christians cannot enjoy having sex. We certainly did, as often as we could. Sex in marriage is a gift from God, without the guilt of illicit sexual adventures. We were commanded to “Cleave to each other,” and we certainly did.


Once we were back home, Kate began to rearrange things that the hired help had left in disarray during my first wife’s illness. She found candles stored in five different places. To me, it seemed more like she was “playing house” and loving every minute of it, but she did get an incredible amount accomplished, and kept at it as long as we were married.  When I finally do move, the job will be much easier.


Thanksgiving dinner went off without a hitch, and the place looked lovely. Kate pulled off her first major entertainment at our home as if she had lived here her whole life. And she made me feel as if she had. What a woman! And she was now mine. Life had really begun again, and I could hardly wait for the next chapter.

Our first Christmas together was a joy to us both. There is nothing as pleasing as trimming a tree together, and we both loved it. We put our ornaments from both families together to make it an “us” tree, to our mutual delight. It was a happy tree, with two very happy people working together to make it so.


Chapter 8


After Christmas, we began to plan for the balance of the winter. She had told me before we were married that she had promised her 95-year old uncle that she would go to Florida with him for February and March. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but knew she needed to honor her commitment. After all, we could always fly back and forth to visit.

She enjoyed her first snowfall at our home before she left for Florida, and showed her playful and winsome side by building a snowman in the front circle. I looked at it and decided it would look better as a snow-woman, and added the boobs. You could see by the smile on her face that she approved.


Her uncle’s condo in Florida had a small guest room with a private bath, and more importantly, a queen size bed. It was a three-story building in a gated community, with a lanai that overlooked a small canal. Small, but very pleasant. Her uncle wasn’t born yesterday. Every day, he would claim he had an errand to run, and would be gone for two hours or so, leaving the two of us alone. What a nice man! And we used the time well, to make up for our weeks apart.

My 70th birthday party celebration was scheduled for two weeks after I left for Florida, and she flew up the week before to make plans. She stayed ten days, and we quickly got back into the routine.

After she left, it would only be two weeks until I flew down again, but the time passed slowly. After only three months of marriage, the house, and our bed, really felt empty without her.

Her taste in clothes when she was a widow was consciously planned to be as modest and unappealing as possible, so that when she went to the store, no one, especially men, would notice her. For three years, she seemed to dress in nothing but baggy clam-diggers and sweatshirts, sometimes with a kerchief over her head. Those days would now be gone!

On my next trip to visit her in Florida, I took her over to Dillard’s department store to outfit her to my taste. I got a real kick out of helping her update her wardrobe, and we both really had a ball doing it. I picked out a suit, several striped tops, and two blue blazers for her. The sales clerk asked if I was going to buy her a yacht to go with the outfits.

That taste for shopping led me deeper and deeper into buying women’s clothing of all sorts, mostly classics, but others a bit on the very personal side. I discovered that once you order clothing from a women’s clothing website, you are bombarded with emails on an almost daily basis, trying to persuade you to buy more. She loved them all, and wore the somewhat racier items only at home, mainly to please me. (We did clean out her lingerie drawers of some of the more risqué items before her daughter came to help dispose of her clothes.)


Chapter 9


We settled into pattern that pleased us both. We went out to dinner with friends almost weekly, but less often to movies, charity benefits, shows or concerts. We never really discussed it, but at least from my side, I would rather be home talking with her than anywhere else. I’m sure she felt the same.

She kept busy all day, mainly straightening up the house and preparing for the eventual move. At four, she would lie down for ten minutes or so with a book. By the time I got home, she had started on another jigsaw puzzle, one of her passions.

I suppose I am a bit of a male chauvinist, but my lifestyle is stuck in the 1950s. She had been working very hard in the house, and for three nights in a row, I came home to find her in blue jeans, a sweatshirt and sneakers. As gently as I could, I suggested that it would be really nice to come home and see her dressed more formally. She wasn’t really thrilled with the idea and pouted a  bit, but gave it a try. After a week or so, she commented that it really gave her a lift to clean up, change and put on makeup before I came home. I was very, very pleased.

We went out of our way to please each other in so many ways. After hearing that the bathroom towels smelled of cigarette smoke, I banned smoking on the Second Floor. She had a “thing” about appliances being on the kitchen counter, so every time we used a toaster or toaster oven, it got tucked away in a cupboard. I had a fetish about the kitchen sink being thoroughly clean, and soon there was not a crumb to be seen. Small things meant a lot to both of us.

Each evening between five and six, I would get home and mix our two drinks. In the summertime, we sat out on the upper terrace until the sun set, talking a blue streak for hours. I think I learned her whole life story, and she mine, as well as much, much more. Come autumn, we moved to the twin leather chairs by the fireplace.

Many evenings, we would have snacks or cheese and crackers with our drinks. Some nights, while we were still chatting at 9:00, she would ask, “Cheese and Crackers for Dinner?” Now I call that time of day, “Arsenic Hour.” It is the hardest time to be alone. Fortunately, I have some friends who are willing to stop by weekly for whiskey and cigars.

After a few drinks, we usually got into a romantic mood. Apparently one of Kate’s goals was to make love in every room of the house, to put her mark on it. We never did get to all twenty rooms, but did enjoy the quest, and christened over half of them. 

I had often had a fantasy about making love in my office on a weekend when no one was around. When I first made the suggestion, her response was less than enthusiastic. One Saturday a month or two later, I told her I needed to stop by the office to pick up something. “Mind if I come along?” she asked. Oh, Yeah! 

When we entered the rear door of the office building, I forgot to turn off the alarm system. I guess I was too anxious. Within thirty seconds, the alarm went off. “Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!” 

I figured that would be the end of my romantic plans for the afternoon, and glumly shut down the alarm. It didn’t seem to bother her, and she followed me up half a flight of stairs and into my office. The office was well furnished with a couch, wing chair, conference table and desk. We gave them all a try. Sometimes fantasies do come true. 

Later in the summer, I learned that I wasn’t the only one who had fantasies. One evening I came home from work to be greeted by Kate in a short skirt, carrying two martinis and a blanket under her arm. She handed me my drink, took my hand and led me to the back terrace. She shared that she had always wanted to make love in the open air, but had never lived anywhere private enough for her to live it out. Our secluded terrace was perfect for the purpose, and I could never disappoint her about anything.


Chapter 10


In May, we went back to Bermuda again (I am not all that creative in vacation planning), but wanted to try a different hotel. We ended up at The Horizons, which had a terrace with a  panoramic view of the ocean. The suite had a sitting room, bedroom, and terrace, which was very pleasant. The next year, the Horizons was also torn down, to make way for another condo development. The old Bermuda with the small cottages and charming manor houses was quickly passing away.


I still miss the old Bermuda, where women went to dinner in long skirts, and the men wore coats and ties. There was a touch of elegance to that, but today’s visitors prefer a much more casual style. At first, I was put off by guests appearing for dinner in ragged shorts, golf shirts and sneakers, but got over it. As long as no one cared what we did in our suite, I didn’t care how they were dressed for dinner. We messed up the bedclothes several times each day.


  When we returned home, the property had become untended and overgrown in the previous three years, and she knew exactly what was needed. The first thing was to cut down all of the sumac trees, which had tried to take over. Some below the garden were so tall and full that they blocked the view across the valley. Every week, she worked on her to-do list, and took over direction of the two men I had hired to do yard work. 

She was now managing a staff of six, including the gardener, two yard men and the cleaning ladies, all part-time. I wondered how she would handle it. I shouldn’t have worried; she took over like she had done it all her life. She had such a pleasant manner, but a firm sense of what needed to be done. Every single worker came to love her, and would do anything she asked.


One of the yard men would stop by my office weekly to get paid, and would always tell me proudly, “Kate really liked what we did to the hedges (or whatever) today.” They seemed as interested in pleasing her as I was.

Since we knew the house would eventually go on the market, we paid a lot of attention to the outside appearance, and trimmed and planted shrubs everywhere. The place had really shaped up on the outside, but the inside would wait until fall.

Living with her was such a pleasure. For the whole time, we acted like lovebirds, but tried not to show it in public. (We didn’t want to shatter everyone’s staid image of us.) At every chance, we would touch one another in a very loving way. (See bum-patting picture on the right.) At night, no matter what time I finally crawled into bed, she would slide over and put her back against my chest in the “spoon” position. I would put my arm around her waist and cuddle, then we would fall asleep in each other’s arms.



Chapter 11

The next summer, I took her to an old hangout on the JerseyShore, the Golden Inn, where four couples, who had been friends for a very long time, had spent years visiting with their children every June in the past. We ate at some of my old favorite restaurants, and visited some other hangouts. She didn’t seem at all to mind that she was visiting places where my late wife and I used to go, or making love where I had done so with my first wife. My goal was to have her share in memories of places that I had loved, and make them ours as well.

At Christmas, we threw our first formal cocktail party. Once again, I wondered how well she would handle being the hostess at such a party. My fears were groundless. Kate greeted the guests at the door, escorted them into the living room, and made introductions to make them immediately comfortable. Time and again, she did the same thing, to my amazement. There seemed to be nothing she couldn’t do, and do it with style and flair.

We didn’t have a caterer, so she had prepared all the food herself, and served it buffet style. She was very frugal, and thought that paying the local fish store $100.00 for a salmon fillet was obscene when she could buy one at a wholesale warehouse for $20.00 and cook it herself. All of the guests seemed quite pleased, and I had no idea how she had pulled it together as if it was nothing at all. Just incredible!


Chapter 12


Kate was disappointed that I hadn’t made plans to go to Florida that winter. I had a better idea. I would take her on a four-week Round-the-World trip, mostly in the southern hemisphere where it was summer. Her eyes got as big as saucers when I told her. She said she felt like a princess in a fairy tale. I felt like the luckiest man alive to have her as my wife.

We started off flying to LA and visiting the HearstCastle, in San Simeon, which she had seen years before. Finally she got to show me something I hadn’t seen. We had packed summer clothes in one suitcase for California, but discovered that the cold, rainy weather required opening the one we had planned to use in London.

The next stop was Sydney, Australia, a very long flight away. I had booked a hotel where I had stayed on earlier trips in the “Rocks” section, down by the harbor, between the HarborBridge and the Opera House. A block away was the “Circular Quay,” where ferryboats constantly plied in and out. It is supposedly the second busiest ferry terminal in the world, after Hong Kong.


Sydney Harbor is one of the world’s loveliest sights. It goes inland for miles, with side branches every mile or so. We bought some day tickets that allowed us unlimited stops on the ferry, and visited nearly all of the harbor-side attractions.


I especially wanted to show her the PowerhouseMuseum in Sydney. She asked what sort of museum it was, and I couldn’t really answer. “It’s sort of a special museum and very interesting,” was the best I could come up with.

When we went there, the first exhibit hall had a collection of Australian women’s clothing through the ce

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