Older Woman, Younger Man

My husband and I have been happily married for 27 years. What makes our relationship out of the ordinary is that Bryan was born in 1960, the year after I graduated high school. He is 19 years my junior; I am older than his mother.

The secret of our success is a deeply committed love for one another. Ours is a passionate romance. Each of us is whole, happy and healthy. I wish what Bryan and I have could be bottled and sprinkled over the world like angel dust.

We met in 1985 during a rainy winter in San Francisco. We were neighbors on a tiny street near the historic Mission Dolores. The worst storm of the season was on its way and my roof was leaking profusely. I was in dire straits financially, having been newly divorced, and I was preparing to fix it myself. Unfortunately my ladder wasn’t tall enough. I needed help.

None of the folks I knew were home that Saturday morning but I noticed an open door directly across from my house. I hurried upstairs to the second story flat in the azure painted duplex, and walked down the long corridor to the living room. There on the sofa was a guy watching a football game on T.V. I introduced myself and then proceeded to ask for his assistance. He looked at me like I was crazy. The silence was deafening.

How often does a stranger enter your apartment with a request for help with a major repair? I was flushed with embarrassment but was in too deep to recover. Fortunately he agreed to help me.

Our uncommon beginning signaled the magic that lay before us. The sparks flew. We went on our first date within days of meeting. Bryan’s car was broken so we took the bus across the city to an authentic Moroccan restaurant where we sat on paisley cushions and ate with our fingers. I remember clearly how primitive this felt and how natural it was to be with him.

He didn’t seem the least bit concerned about my age. I, on the other hand, was more sensitive. I was healing from a codependent relationship of 12 years and had never experienced true intimacy. I wasn’t sure it was the proper thing to do, but I couldn’t help myself; I was falling in love. I was scared because these feelings were coming so quickly.

Bryan moved in with me within weeks of our first meeting. I remember thinking that, if it didn’t work out, it would be easy to ask him to leave because all he owned was a T.V.

For Valentine’s Day, he created a hanging wire mobile in the shape of intertwined hearts and presented it to me with flowers and chocolate. It was a thoughtful gesture that I would learn is typical of Bryan. He has never missed a special occasion, and has often surprised me with jewelry when he returns from a business trip.

One spring evening, we were waiting to board a dinner train in Mendocino. A drunken man approached us and said, “How come you two are dressed up? Are you getting married?”

Bryan looked at me and said, “Yes, we are, aren’t we?” That was his proposal. It was decided we would plan a wedding for later that year, but, first I needed to meet Bryan’s mother. Just the thought of it terrified me! Bryan and his mother, Sharon, have a truly special bond. He insisted he would not tell anyone about our engagement until she and I met.

We drove to southern California where Sharon was visiting her sister, Bryan’s aunt. I felt sick the entire trip. I knew in advance he was going to take his mother shopping the next morning without me to break the news to her. I couldn’t sleep at all that night. What felt so right to Bryan and me was unusual, especially in the eyes of a parent.

When they returned from their excursion, Sharon looked like she had just come from a funeral. Fortunately for me, Aunt Toby accepted the situation and eased the tension by giving me a white angel ornament.

His mother is a wonderful woman. In spite of her disappointment, she welcomed me into their family. Over the years, our relationship has evolved into a unique friendship. She became a cross between a peer and a sister.

December 7,1986, dressed in an ivory colored Victorian gown, I was driven to our wedding in a horse-drawn carriage. I remember the sensation well. As I heard the clippity clop of hooves hitting the pavement, I felt it was the happiest day of my life. The ride was several miles long, and I enjoyed cars honking loudly at every turn. When we arrived at the elegant Alamo Square Inn, Bryan was waiting to escort me inside to the nuptials. It was a good thing he took my hand, for as I exited the carriage, my knees collapsed from shaking so hard. The day was spectacular marking a lifetime of love.

Both Bryan and I had always wanted kids. By the time we met, my biological clock had run out. He told me he would rather marry a woman he loved deeply than to wait for someone to bear his children. For several years, we were content to be a unit of two. After my dear Aunt Letha died in 1992, I longed for a child. I knew we would be good parents.

Bryan agreed to adoption. It was an arduous experience requiring patience and resilience. We had several birthmothers who changed their minds for different reasons. This process took three years and a great deal of money. Ultimately we were blessed with a baby girl we named Mariah. Our daughter is now eight years old and the light of our lives.

Bryan continues to be my rock, strength, and loving support. During our years together, I have endured many tragedies, including my brother John’s suicide in 1988, my ex- husband Joey’s death from alcoholism in 1989, and my girlfriend Debra’s suicide in 2002. I was hospitalized with a potentially life-threatening blood clot in my lungs in 1998. Bryan stood by me through all of these. I married a great guy! I am a fortunate woman to have found true love in the heart of a younger man.

Age is but a notch on the tree of life. Does it really matter that I have more than he? We are all on a spiritual path. We choose our lovers, friends, and family to mirror our soul’s development. Partners of different ages can accelerate this growth. These diverse emotional experiences are opportunities of a lifetime. Let’s enjoy them.

About the Author | Kay Kopit

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