I photographed the lovely Dolores yesterday, a woman in her 80’s. Her first boyfriend, Buddie, went off to the Korean war. Like all stories, there are two versions of what happened upon his return…the short of it would be that circumstances changed and he married another woman, although he will tell you jovially that it was Dolores who met someone else and moved on. She just giggles and shakes her head when he tells his “version” of their love story.
Interestingly, Buddie’s best friend, who was also in the war, came home after his tour and pursued Dolores. He and Dolores got married 9 months later and celebrated almost 60 years of marriage together until last year when he passed away. After his passing, Buddie reached out to Dolores, she in Phoenix and he in Naples, and they slowly starting getting reaquainted over the phone. Yesterday he hired me to take photographs of his lovely Dolores, the love of his life, who now is spending more and more time here in Naples to be with her Buddie.
Coincidentally, just last week my dad made this remark to me about life being better when you have someone to share it with. It was sort of a strange comment coming from my father who has been married twice and has vowed to never get married again. Initially, I thought he was maybe suggesting that he was disappointed in me for not working harder on my own dissolving marriage. My dad turned 80 this year, and after diving deeper into the conversation with him, what he wanted me to know was that he had spent a good portion of his life alone, and although he liked being by himself, he said that to be able to share all the bits and pieces with someone else just made everything more special. He wasn’t just referring to the big celebrations life gives us, nor was he focusing on how nice it is to have support during life’s valleys, but his point was that the every day mundane was just better when you had someone by your side. The Tuesday night meatloaf dinners at home, the rainy Sundays with coffee and the paper, the simple walks around the block and the days when nothing “special” happens and you are just content living. His point was that those are the days you can really connect with your partner because those are the days you are truly sharing yourself with them. It’s easy for us all to connect with people on the momentous occasions of our lives, but it’s how we share the mundane that really speaks volumes about who we decide to spend our life with.
So circling back to Dolores and Buddie, my point is that I was just so struck by the optimism of these two people, who some might say are in the twilight stages of their lives, and yet, they are making the decision to share their lives with each other. It takes time and energy to give yourself to someone else and here are two people willing to put themselves out there for each other knowing that the bits and pieces will be better together. It reminded me that the persuit of happiness does not have age limitations and at any age we have the choice to empower ourselves to find happiness and if we choose, partnership. And for Buddie & Dolores, it means after 61 years, finally having the oppertunity to enjoy time together.