Story by Jaye Lewis
When my husband and I first became friends, we had no idea of any differences in our ages. I had inherited great genes, so at the age of 34 I was slim and young looking. Louie was fun, with a great sense of play, and yet, he was very serious about his path in life, unafraid to take on new challenges.
There was only one time, in the 23 years that we have been together, that I thought I might back out because of our age difference. I got one good talking to from a trusted friend. “Let’s see, Jaye,” he told me. “He’s wonderful! He loves you! He adores your children. He wants more than anything to spend the rest of his life making you and the girls happy but, he’s younger. That’s a great reason to break up!” I saw the ludicrousness of my fears, and I never looked back.
We were married in the home of a friend, with three little bridesmaids breathlessly waiting to call Louie “Daddy.” It was greater than any joy I had ever known. Louie was a natural father. He adopted our daughters exactly two years after the day we had met. He is faithful and loving, and the best friend I have ever had.
At the same time, through the years, I thought that I had missed out on that romantic dinner by candle light, Louie dropping to one knee, holding out an engagement ring, and begging me to marry him. We had started out married life with a house full of kids, no privacy, and a gratitude that children have to go to bed early.
Then began my health problems. Where my body once was slim and strong, it soon became medicated and plump, in all the wrong places. Where once my cheeks were slim, there was now a layer of insulation that could make my feet float. I walked and walked and walked, when I was well, and, yet, no amount of exercise could bring my body back to where it once was. By the time we had been married nearly fifteen years, one look in the mirror was enough to send my self-esteem plummeting.
Louie was always loving and exciting, but I wondered if I was. I’d look at my wedding band, as it got tighter and resized. In my jewelry box was a diamond that we had never gotten around to setting into a ring. I mused that surely he could not want me that much anymore.
I slipped a dozen cards into every cubbyhole that day, watching as he joyously found and read them. But there was nothing in the house, for me. Of course, I didn’t mind. We were going out to dinner, and that would be romantic. We arrived at the black tie restaurant together, and I saw the lovely gift bag with the card sticking out, so I knew I would not be totally forgotten.
We ordered our drinks, and then the meal, and we watched the sun go down into a brilliant splendor, and Louie handed me my card. It said all the wonderful things that always make me cry. His eyes were shining. How handsome he was. Then suddenly he moved, and pushed his chair back. Swiftly, out of the bag came a small velvet pillow and a small box. I was stunned to see my husband kneel on the pillow and hold out the little box. Astonished, I backed my chair up.
“Jaye, I love you!” Louie declared, opening the box to expose a lovely diamond ring. “I know I don’t deserve it, but will you marry me?”
“Oh My!” I heard from the waitress behind me. All eyes in the room turned their attention to this intensely private, shy, wonderful man. The room exploded with applause, as I sobbed, “YES!”
No one knew that we were an “old” married couple. No one knew or cared that I was an “older” woman. No one saw anything except our joy and our love. And I will always remember that day as my perfect Valentine!