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Love can survive anything

They are sitting on the piano bench that has been dragged to the front hall because the light is better there. He is 87 and she is 86. They are the parents of a best friend and will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. They are here because the husband and I occasionally do portraits for people if our arms are twisted just so.

She is wearing a lovely emerald green dress and a double strand of crystal beads. He is wearing a dark blue suit, light blue shirt, snappy tie and comfortable shoes.

They smile easily, turning their heads a quarter inch this way and a quarter inch that way. I tell him to put his arm around her and hold her tight. He wraps his arm around her and pulls her close. She giggles like a school girl and leans into him. They have melded into one, totally at ease and comfortable -- with one another, with the passing of time and with health issues of late.

We finish taking pictures and ask how they met. So they do what couples who have been married a long time do. They tell their story. Together.

He says it was a blind date. He already had a girlfriend and someone asked him to fix her up with one of his friends. Because he once had a bad blind date himself -- "the girl had a face like a bulldog," he says, wincing -- he decided to take her out himself first before introducing her to his friend.

"We went bowling," he says.

She looks around while she listens and then looks at him. Smiling, all the while smiling.

"We bowled eight games and I lost seven out of eight," he says. "And she laughed every time."

"A man told me not to keep laughing because it would make him mad," she says. "But I did. I laughed."

"She laughed!" he says, with mock exasperation.

"I gave him my earrings to hold. He put them in his pocket and forgot about them."

"It was deliberate," he says, "so she could see me the next day. We married five months and 10 days later."

There is a rich history here. With humble beginnings, they have created a family and a home, managed money well, raised children with the requisite joys and challenges, weathered the storms and rode the waves.

What's nagging at me while looking at them is the growing trend known as the graying of divorce. One in four couples now filing for divorce is older than 50. Just when they close in on the finish line, they throw in the towel. Of course there can be legitimate reasons, but sometimes there really aren't and the human toll is gut-wrenching.

This dapper Dan and his girl in the emerald green make me look forward to growing old with my better half, finishing each other's stories, not caring if the wrinkles show, just glad to be weathering the storms, enjoying the sights and still have one another.

Maybe someone will take our picture on the piano bench one day, too.