Saying "I love you" to the World
By Carol Denker
Almost three years ago, an article of mine was published on Trans4mind, describing the book I was writing - a photo essay collection of couples who found love later in life - and asking for more such couples. At that point, I had found about a third of the couples who would eventually comprise this book, "Autumn Romance."
My only criteria were that both had to be 50 or over when they became romantically involved and both had to consider it real, true love. I was hoping for couples in different locations than I already had. So when a Trans4mind reader, Bob T., wrote me from Nevada, I was delighted. Another new state!
My interview with Bob and Wanda (then his girlfriend, now his wife) was eye-opening. Their previous lives hadn't been free from struggle. But with this new relationship, they were creating something new, a "no blame relationship." I remember sitting at my desk in Philadelphia after our first interview, smiling. Wow, I just met the most amazing people. So unafraid to reach for something that other people would call unrealistic. But they are actually making it real.
My idea of "Autumn Romance" seemed clear but as time went on, the vision kept being redefined by the journey. Two years into writing the book, it was not just about older couples finding love late in life. It was also about the spiritual opportunities therein.
According to conventional thinking, the second half of life is all about relaxing and accepting what life has handed you. But I was interviewing people who were looking at past mistakes and trying to do things differently - people breaking away from old patterns and starting over - people, after great pain, who were changing course and setting their sights for great happiness.
Bob T. suffered many losses in his early 50s, but then he managed to extricate himself from lifelong negative patterns. Free to connect with a woman on a deeply emotional level, he met Wanda. In their 50s, they both had learned how to understand themselves... and how to be in touch with their most innocent dreams.
Bob and Wanda were brave enough to create great change in their life and that's why their story falls in the chapter called "Change" (there are six chapters in the book). Another chapter is called "It's You Again," where couples who knew each other when young fall in love when they are older.
In this chapter, RJ (who fell in love with Esther when both were 13, thinking her "the prettiest girl in the world") meets Esther again when both are 62. He had never stopped loving her and now she loves him back.
Was his initial adoration due to Esther's big brown eyes and slender figure? In their 60s, it is now clear it was Esther's soul he always loved. When you read this story, the incident that seems like an unrealistic miracle, is totally believable because the love they feel for each other is so powerful.
Writing these stories was difficult, because I wanted to convey both the gritty real-life narratives of each life story, and also, how these life stories combined in almost fairy tale simplicity - because of love. In the end, I believe that the real power of "Autumn Romance" derives from the fact that a romance late in life becomes a perfect prism through which to glimpse the nature of true love, which of course is soul to soul.
In the autumn of life, the bloom of youth is gone. The illusion of perfection is pushed aside. And then, what is visible is a person's soul. In these stories, we get to see people loving each other's souls and this is powerful stuff. The stories are filled with magical turns of events: marvelous coincidences, predictions coming true, cynics becoming believers.