It was mid-January, 2014, still soon enough in the new year for the air to be charged with renewal and resolutions. My friend Rita had been in a long-term relationship with a wonderful man everyone adored. She adored him, too. But it had become more of a warm friendship than a romance. Her New Year’s resolution was to open her heart to more, whatever that might be.
I received an email from Stonefield Cellars winery about a singles event they were having. I typically avoid gatherings labeled as such, mainly because I’m often among the oldest women there and I’m not a cougar. For some reason I said to Rita, “Let’s go. Not because we’ll meet someone—that’ll never happen. It’ll get us out of the house and support the winery.” (It’s a very cool winery.) On the night of the event, she stopped by my house first and convinced me to have a glass of wine. She later confided she was hoping the wine would change my mind about going.
It was at that winery that she met the slightly younger, handsome Terry. He had lost a great love to cancer almost a year before and was just starting to test the dating waters. An inebriated woman was throwing herself at him. Sensing his growing interest in Rita, she said to her in her Southern drawl while pointing to a man across the room, “Don’t you think he’s good-lookin’? Why don’t you go talk to him?”
Rita and I decided to leave and go to our local bistro. We invited Terry. He gladly accepted. His admirer was now trying to sit on his lap.
At the bistro, not only was it clear that Rita and Terry would see each other again, they lived almost in walking distance to each other. What were the odds? Terry was a gifted luthier (one who makes stringed instruments) and had a good “real” job. Those odds were even longer.
Two years and nine months later, they were married at their home.
When I asked Rita if they were going on a honeymoon, she replied, “We decided there was no point since we wake up in paradise every morning.”
It’s true. Ask anyone who knows them. They are madly in love. Who gave the first toast at their wedding? The man she had been dating. It shows how fabulous a person Rita is to keep someone close after a break-up. In fact, Rita is one of the most wonderful human beings I know. She is genuinely supportive and generous with compliments. She is always honest and carefully couches criticisms. She dresses like a woman who enjoys showing off her curves without looking silly. Her hair is a beautiful platinum gray. And she smiles all the time, even before she met Terry. Why it took her until her sixties to find just the right partner in every way is a mystery. But then, some people, if not most, never find it.
In Kinky Friedman’s book Roadkill, there’s a passage where he’s backstage with Willie Nelson at one of his shows. Willie peeks out at the audience and says to Kinky, “That’s where the real show is…ninety-nine percent of those people are not with their true first choice.”
Rita and Terry are in another kind of 1%. The best possible kind.
Here’s to putting out to the universe what the heart wants. Here’s to love at any age and proving Willie Nelson wrong. And here’s to my catching the bouquet that Rita tossed. I’m smiling more already.