ROMANCE IS REAL!
Like one of my favorite authors Mary Higgins Clark I believe in romance, in love and kindness, in tolerance and patience. It is quite possible to be married for several decades, to have children and eventually grandchildren, and still be romantic towards each other. Naturally Romance at a more mature age does not necessarily mean constant PDAs or emotional outbursts. It manifests itself in the exchange of glances and the ability to understand each other without words. “Why do you always reply in a chorus and give us the same replies, how do you do that?” our kids would ask. And I think back to my own childhood, to my parents’ continuous love and care. The way my husband slows down and checks that I can take a step along a slippery slope reminds me of my father doing the same for my mother; I call my husband back to Earth from his never-ending work the same way my Mom used to do it. Men bring us flowers not only on birthdays and anniversaries; women cook their favorite dishes; and the couple goes out together or receives guests at home, both effortlessly performing their roles. It is occasionally difficult to see others, especially people much younger or much older than we are, as the same kind of persons we used to be or will be.
While flying recently we were given the usual instruction, to raise our seats and prepare the tables for onboard lunch. The couple in the row right ahead of us did not raise their seat backs, so my husband politely tapped on the young man’s shoulder and asked him quietly to do it. “But my… wife is already asleep!” he protested indignantly. The way he made a tiny pause before the word “wife”, the extra-protectiveness showed us that they must have been newlyweds. We on the other hand must have looked to them what we were – a mature couple. My husband gestured slightly in my direction; the young man twisted his neck and saw that indeed I could not lower my table. I whispered that he could press the button and carefully raise the seat back, which he did. His wife never stirred. When a bit later he got up, he hesitated by our row, looking at us curiously. I got up too, and he asked me how long we had been married. Thirty years! It seemed unimaginable to him. I had an impression that he kept mulling it over because he glanced at us several times during the flight. It looked like he was filing away some details, like my husband asking the stewardess to bring me a blanket, or helping me stand up at the end. When his wife adjusted her position and put her head on his shoulder, he peeked in between seats, saw me in the same position and smiled. I think that probably for the first time in his life he realized that that protective feeling, those strong emotions he felt for his young wife were not unique, not theirs only. Every normal loving couple feels the same.
Lots of families with young children act as if they are the only ones who know what it is about. They look around to see if the other passengers notice how cute their kids are, and suffer if somebody protests or makes an unkind comment, especially when a baby or a toddler starts crying. Yet we have been there too, we traveled with our children since their very early age. They never had those crying jags or yelling fits, but it was never easy on us. That it why we give such families a sympathetic look or a word of encouragement on a flight or train journey. “You have children too, right?” inquired a man sitting next to me in our three-seat section. His wife and two young daughters were sitting across the isle. Sure, parents recognize each other as belonging to the same tribe. He mulled over something, then brightened up and said, “But you are both so normal, and you are kind, so there’s hope for us too!” I assured him that yes, children do grow, life becomes easier, and there is still enough romance left for the parents to enjoy in their more mature years.