Friday, August 8, 2008
In a recent interview, a high-energy, multi-talented man shared how he curtailed his many interests during a first marriage—there were complaints and he was trying to please his wife. In his present relationship, begun at 61, he’s joining more singing groups and reviving a passionate interest in model railroads: he now feels supported by someone who loves who he is. Telling me about this win/win development—“It’s unprecedented!” —his voice brimmed with boyish, joyous enthusiasm.
Who knew? Who knew that this book would turn into a project that I could share with my husband Warren? (We met in our 60s.) Since last February, when he sat in on a beautiful visit in Denver, he’s accompanied me on interviews. Then a month ago, he suggested: perhaps he could take photos, too?
What I didn’t know is that as a young man, Warren was passionate about photography. He loved capturing nature with his 35 mm SLR Mamiya Sekor. He loved developing pictures in his darkroom. But he hadn’t touched a camera in decades. I listened to him describe that long-ago interest and saw the light in his eyes.
The next Autumn Love interview was in Flemington NJ with Don and Millie (delightful couple who lives in Florida but were visiting his daughter Donna). For days, Warren studied the instruction booklet to my Canon 20D, which I barely know how to use. The black and white photo you see here is the result. In the color one below, left to right, that’s Don, Millie, me and Donna. You can’t see Warren’s face—he took the picture—but he was smiling.
It’s not just in interviews that I’m hearing about growth over 50. One of the unexpected pleasures of writing this book is connecting on-line with other creative people. A while ago I connected with Laurie Schur, who at 57 started taking film classes at UCLA Extension. (She used to be a therapist.) Laurie followed her heart and kept going. Two years ago, she started directing her own documentary: The Beauty of Aging, about extraordinary women over 80.
Laurie’s film is still in production but she has for release a 35-minute short, Greedy for Life. I saw it. It’s amazing and inspiring. Go to www.beautyofaging.com.
And if you come across a couple who found true love over 50, let me know! www.autumnlove.org.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I started out with the notion that interviewing such couples--both partners over 50 when they connected--would be interesting, given society’s attitude toward aging. Over 40 interviews later, it is way beyond interesting. What I can’t wait to tell the world is how uniquely wonderful a late-life-love relationship can be.
I’ve met amazing people. I’ve seen courage, growth, deep spirituality and glorious happiness. Writing the book has become a journey. I’d like to take you along.
The first question people ask is: How do I find the couples? The answer is a lot of ways: cold-calling a zillion senior centers all over the U.S.; asking anyone I happen to talk to (one couple came through a Comcast troubleshooter!); and very effectively, through newsletters and email blasts--thank you Meira Findel, Susan Duval and Gini Maddocks. (If anyone wants some excellent publicity, these ladies have it down!)
Here I am interviewing one of the first couples, Edith and Ray (Photo by Bonnie Charleston - Stevens). This delightful couple has merged talents and dreams and become a song and dance team. Speaking of personal growth, Metamorphosis, a very cool personal growth ezine posted a piece on the book; immediately, I heard from a fascinating writer/realtor, half of a Las Vegas couple.
Serendipity has also played a part. A few weeks ago at Juju Salon on Fourth Street in South Philly, I was chattering away to Erin (they have the nicest staff) as she put highlights in my hair. Suddenly Erin exclaimed, “Oh, I know someone! The nicest lady!” (A recent client had shared her happy story.) One week later, Warren and I, enthralled and delighted, sat listening to Penny and Brian H. tell then fell deeply in love in their 50s.
The role Fate plays in these stories is fascinating. The latest couple I interviewed, Marion and Michael (photo at left), dated each other in high school and then lost touch. Decades later they reconnected and realized they were meant for each other. They live in Connecticut, but the way I found them was very close to home: Marion is the mother of Travis Skidmore and the mother-in-law of Sierra Skidmore, my wonderful graphic designers in Philadelphia.
Do YOU know any couples? The ONLY criteria are age and love! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And visit the website, www.autumnlove.org to learn more about the book.
Please tell me what you would like to hear about next!
What I hear about mostly is love.
About two months ago, I was in Philadelphia and talking to my older daughter who lives in San Francisco. Two kids and fulltime job keep her busy; that day, she was unusually stressed. She was driving to a friend’s house and she’d used the long drive as an opportunity to call me. I started bubbling over with my most recent interview. The man was 79; his wife of one year was 80. They kept stroking each others’ arms and caressing each others’ cheeks as we talked. After an hour, the woman said to me, “Did you ever see the movie The Enchanted Cottage? (I had, it’s about a disfigured man and woman who end up falling in love and the cottage they inhabit that magically makes them beautiful to each other.)
“We’re old,” said the woman. “You know? But when we go inside our house, it’s like The Enchanted Cottage. We feel 16 years old. We laugh, we play. We love each other so much, we really forget…”
“Wow. I needed to hear that today, Mom,” my daughter said.
It was like the woman who’d told me about The Enchanted Cottage had given me a gift and I had just passed the gift on to my daughter. And it was only recently (not being the most computer-savvy person) did I understand the power of blogs to share the same gift with lots and lots of people.
Monday, April 21, 2008