Perils of Late Marriages

Beginning about 15 years ago, I talked often with a woman at our community center who also went to Penn State, although I never knew her then.  She was there five years before me, but that still gave us much to talk about: Joe Pa, Fred Waring, and such.

She was a widow facing financial hardship living on social security in a rented apartment, but she was attractive and dating a widower with a house and a generous pension that could be the answer to her problems. And he was a man everyone liked, tall and slim, from Tennessee, with a shock of thick white hair and the accent and extravagant good manners of a southern gentleman. They married with high expectations of a new life together as she moved into his house. Another marriage made in heaven, we all thought.

The problems soon surfaced. He had long supported his lazy adult son, who she detested, but now it was her money, too, that he was giving away. Then he sank into dementia, but slowly, so for a long time she did not realize he was no longer the man she had married. She thought he was just showing his selfish side that she had not seen before.

She was no fun to talk to, anymore.  She was always furious and venting over some new example of his disrespect.  He would eat grapes while watching TV, then throw the stems under the sofa. He would leave dirty dishes around the house that she had to clean up. He ignored her pleas which turned to nagging. She dwelt on every detail. He had always been very fastidious, and this behavior was new and different. The previous him would have been shocked.

Her attitude improved when he was officially diagnosed with dementia, but by then she was trapped in the house. Getting out for a brief swim at the community center was the most she could look forward to. Enjoying the world-wide travels and evenings with friends they had once planned would never happen.

He died after another a year. She cut off the lazy son, sold the house, and moved to a retirement community in South Carolina, quite an accomplishment for a woman her age.

We lost touch, but I assume she is happy at last. I would bet she has not remarried.




About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
This entry was posted in Aging, Popular culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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