On Loving An Older Man

I held his face for a few seconds and looked into his calico eyes. He smiled. It was hard not to get lost in the rugged, hard-earned smile lines borne of 50+ years of experience. Age and experience are attractive. He is a beautiful man, I thought between kissing his cheek and scrunching his salt-and-pepper curls on the back of his head. Our foreheads touched and we sat there with our eyes closed just taking it in- the history, the ups, the downs, the friendship, the long, hard road that led to our closeness. His hand was on the small of my back. What is it about that spot that makes me aware of his attention to the point of shyness? Tex didn't say anything. I put my arms around his neck and nuzzled his face. He soaked it in with a quiet hunger and deep appreciation that naturally occurs after years of emotional starvation. I realize our relationship is healing decades of conditional love and drama scars from past marriages. I realize the healing journey takes time. I realize the healing is the journey we all go through in life, and I love it.

Before Tex and I met I had no plans of loving an older man. The issues are different. Bigger. Older. More complex. There's usually a vitriolic ex-spouse with personality disorders, children with the scars of divorce, financial upheaval, or a death of a spouse too good for this world that no one can live up to....then I realized all of those things described the toughest parts of my package. One does not have to be in an older stage of life to be a single person with the letter "N" for nightmare on her forehead. But he asked me out anyway, and I accepted. There was just something about him I had to experience. He asked me if he could call me before our first date to get to know me better. What normal woman would not want to talk with someone interested in her mind?  He was gorgeous, highly intelligent, spiritually-oriented, hard-working, not afraid of my widowed/divorced status, and funny. Of course I said 'yes' to his request for my number. Duh.

The first evening we talked was like catching up with an old friend. He waited to call until I had put my children to bed so he wouldn't interrupt their routine. As a mother I was very impressed. He called again the next night and every night until our first date. It was clear there was a mental, spiritual, and emotional connection. He knew most of my major pieces of baggage before we ever went out. My baggage should have scared him off, but it didn't. Naturally, I was suspicious. What would a man 15 years older want from a penniless woman 20 pounds overweight, with four young kids, three in diapers, and a nasty ex-husband? In fact, I was left with some of my ex-husband's debt to pay back. I was not mid-life crisis material for Tex. I was certain that there were too many eligible, childless, beautiful women going after him for me to trust his interest was pure.

We went to dinner as "friends", but we both knew that wasn't why we were getting to know each other. We had too much in common and talked to each other too easily. The restaurant was full so we sat side-by-side on stools at the food bar in Mimi's Cafe. He ate undercooked salmon and wild rice. I don't remember what I ate. All I remember was how he turned toward me to look at me when he listened to me talk, and how long he looked me in the eye before looking away. He became animated and timeless when he spoke about his favorite books. During that dinner I noticed his eyes of many colors and the long smile lines. I saw his face fall a bit when he spoke of missing living with his five children every day and his concerns for each of his kids. His hands were rough from years of running a small construction company. He used black-rimmed reading glasses to order from the menu. Gray highlights framed his forehead.

I soon learned that I was right. Some of those women had scalped their ex-husbands for a lot of money in their settlements and wanted travel and shop for a personal Ken doll like Tex so they could dress him in silk shirts and linen shorts. He thought it was creepy. All I could offer him on an average day was a plate of overcooked pasta, flavorless chicken as tough as leather with a side of squishy broccoli for dinner with four kids that talk at the same time with food falling out of their mouths on to the floor...all this between diaper changing breaks. He had already lived in my world, so it was normal. Still, I suppose I remained slightly suspicious because throughout the first few months of our courtship I reminded him of the disparity between my life and all the swinging singles out in the world. He would take me by the shoulders, look me squarely in the eye and say, "But they're not you. They'll never be you. They don't matter to me." He was honest when he said that at my age he would have been too shallow and selfish to be interested in someone in my situation. Fifteen years, five kids, and loving someone that didn't love him back must have made a difference because I have never felt so loved for who I am as I do now.

For me, loving an older man has meant finally enjoying that elusive acceptance a woman needs to feel she has a place in this world. Loving an older man has meant the steadying hand through life stages from one who has been there, done that. Loving an older man has taught me to trust that love is about friendship and support. Loving an older man is about not wasting time or taking each other for granted because if we live out the average human life span, he and I have 15 fewer years together than we would if we were close in age. Loving an older man is about slowing down and seeing life through the eyes of perspective borne of years of experience. Loving an older man is learning from him to live life now so as not to have regrets down the road. Loving an older man is about helping him unpack and put away his emotional baggage without judgment or complaint because he has already done the same for me. Loving an older man is many nights of rubbing his sore back only to have him get up and massage my tired feet until I fall asleep. Loving an older man is being understood on those days when I'm too tired to be amazing at anything. Loving an older man has been less about trying to impress and keep up with others, and more about self-improvement and appreciating small steps. Loving an older man has meant my late-husband, father of my son, has been invited back in to the family again after a long absence to satisfy a jealous ex-husband. Loving an older man has helped me to feel safe enough to open my mouth and sing. Did you know that Tex brought the music back?

I'm not saying all older men are down-to-earth and prepared to love deeper. They're not. But mine is. For me, loving Tex has been like coming home. 

I don't understand all his jokes. He can tell when he has slipped back in to the 1970's humor when he tells a joke and my face looks blank. I remind him I was either not born yet, in diapers, or graduating from Kindergarten then, and to cut me some generational slack. We drive each other crazy often enough to remind us that we have a lot of work to do. We have both said and done hurtful things we wish we hadn't. But we forgive each other and grow forward in time and our love grows deeper. Loving an older man has been about learning to slow down and love myself and others more deeply. 

You know that I'm all about loving deeper.



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