I couldn’t let Valentine’s Day pass without commentary in Connie’s Corner. Just the thought of Feb. 14 takes me back to Valentine sugar cookies at Helms Elementary School, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and Valentines featuring young couples in a tender embrace – you know, “young love.” So, I decided to dedicate this Valentine’s Day column to “old love,” and say out loud that love doesn’t have to end at 65, 75 or even 85. There is no expiration date on the heart’s capacity to share the adventure of life with someone.
In preparation for this column, I Googled young love and the Valentine market to see what I would find. One narrative described young love as a term used patronizingly by older people when they see a couple younger than them. I’m willing to bet that statement was written by someone too young to have paid their dues in the real game of life. If there is an inference at all, it’s because seniors have been there, done that and have the T-shirt. They already know that young people standing at the altar have no concept of what it really means to love and cherish for richer or poorer and in sickness and in health. Realistically, how could they?
But try finding a Valentine featuring senior couples. There are Valentines for pets, Valentines for LGBT couples, Valentines for biracial couples but nothing for old couples. I did find suggestions for Valentine activities for seniors - at assisted living or nursing home facilities, or advertisements for the facilities themselves featuring “happy” senior couples but there were no Valentines featuring lovers with gray or silver in their hair. There are no cards that say, “I love you for sitting with me for hours during chemotherapy,” or “when you had to bathe me, and I felt my dignity was gone.” Or how about, “I love you for being there even when I can’t remember your name.”
While the marketing gurus target young love, the good news is there is life and love after 65 even if the rest of the world wants to pretend it doesn’t exist. Believe it or not, it is possible to feel your heart flutter without it being in A-fib. It is possible to tingle at the touch of someone’s hand on the small of your back without having to go see a neurologist and it is possible to be light-headed and breathless without it being your blood pressure or low blood sugar.
Making allowances for health issues, seniors can love, and seniors can desire - love is not the exclusive province of the young.
Connie Clements is a freelance reporter and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.