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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Holding another’s hand makes the difference

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Alan Liere Special to Voice

My wife, Marie, died three years ago this spring, and I started dating only a year after that. I hadn’t intended to begin so soon – respect, self-flagellation, and all that, but a wonderful lady dropped into my lap. I was lonely and feeling sorry for myself, and it felt awfully good to have the feminine perspective from someone other than my dog.

Not that my dog wasn’t comforting, mind you, but a snoring dog curled up by the hearth at night cannot replace perfume, conversation and a woman’s soft touch. Although life would be simpler with just a dog, I hope I never get to the point that just dogs are good enough. Even if she shed and snored by the hearth, I’d rather have a woman.

At 43, that wonderful lady was 15 years younger than I, and that seemed just about right. Except for some memories, however, she is no longer a part of my life. Beautiful and vivacious, she was the casualty of an incomplete grieving process. Though perhaps perfect for me, she was an apple and my deceased wife had been an orange; I was looking for another orange. My tendency to compare made us both crazy, destroyed the relationship. Live, lose, learn. Live again, hopefully.

Except for cold spring dawns when the wind is howling and the fire in the wood stove is long dead, I know I am finally through grieving for Marie. Now, I grieve for myself. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone, but I’m 60 years old. I hate being 60. What are my chances of ever finding another woman who appeals enough to me physically that I will make the effort to know her emotionally and intellectually? Worse yet, even if I do locate her, what if she, also, is looking for a physical connection first? I’m not the guy a pretty young thing would pick out of a group of 10.

There is an element of panic in my quest. Longevity is in my genes, but how many good years are left? Having never been there before, I don’t know if it is still fun to cuddle under a blanket on the beach when you’re 65. Can Hawaii still be romantic when you’re 70? Is there still a sense of awe and wonderment when you’re 80?

The really comfortable thing about being in love with Marie was that though we aged, we aged together. Yes, she put on some weight, developed some wrinkles, was beginning to sag. But I didn’t really notice, and I didn’t really care.

And that’s one of the problems now. Sixty-year-old women make me feel like a 60-year-old man. I am critical of their imperfections because it is impossible to start out already in love. I do not know how to get around this. I do not want to feel this way, but neither do I want to feel like a 60-year-old man until I am 80.

I am a prune who thinks he’s a plum. I like to go dancing now and then. I like to write. I like to travel. I like to sing in the shower and laugh and whistle and read and cook and work in the garden. I enjoy physical labor. I love the outdoors – to hike, hunt, fish, lie on my back and study the clouds. I have to have something to look forward to. I wonder if a woman my age can match my capacity for life and love? I fear she’d be much too mature, much too uptight. Would her hair be as white as mine? I want a woman who has passions of her own. I would prefer they weren’t wine, Harleys, or sit-coms, but I guess it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they were. Unbelievably, 60 has made me more tolerant

Nevertheless, I hate it. At 60, I can see the end of the road. That part doesn’t scare me, though. It’s the journey, don’t you know? A walk is so much nicer when you’re holding hands.

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