Five years. Five years since his wife had passed away. Life was not the same without his lovely wife, but Mr. McLaurin had made it through the worst of his grieving. Now in his mid seventies, a retired businessman, Mr. McLaurin felt stronger, and was seriously considering to open his heart to the magic of love. The idea of finding a loving lady who may become his companion for the twilight days of his life made him giddy with excitement that he had not felt since his younger days.
Mr. McLaurin paid close attention to the single elderly ladies at the church he earnestly attended. He joined a seniors group as part of his dating search. But Mr. McLaurin had no luck. He had not anticipated the complexity of his daydream. The single ladies he had approached had shown no interest or desires to enter the dating game at this stage of their lives.
Almost ready to give up, Mr. McLaurin bounced back into his pursue of love with the intrigue of a new tool which would aid his enterprise.
A year ago, his daughter, Elizabeth, had given him a laptop for Christmas. She introduced him into the cyber world. After months of struggling with the computer, learning applications, connections issues, and all the components of this modern mode of communication, Mr. McLaurin finally was able to reasonably master using his laptop. He exchanged daily emails with his daughter, grandchildren, and friends.
But the real adventure began when his buddy, Leo, talked him into exploring online dating. Mr. McLaurin was amused by the infinite possibilities that the world wide web could open for him, just there, at the tip of his fingertips.
Mr. McLaurin spent a few months communicating with ladies. He met some ladies in the area. Nothing prospered beyond a casual lunch or diner encounter. As his spirit became more adventurous, Mr. McLaurin decided to expand his contacts to a greater geographical area. He started searching for ladies out of state. After several contacts, emails and phone calls, he ended up with two candidates that would be willing to meet him in his hometown. His heart pounded with the thought of meeting Joan and Virginia.
Joan was ready to drive and stay with a friend of hers who happened to live in the area. Virginia was not quite sure when she would be ready to meet him. She had some financial issues that were her priority, and at that moment she didn’t have the means to afford the trip.
Anxious and not wanting to lose any time in his endeavor, Mr. McLaurin made arrangements with Joan. Their first meeting was full of emotion and uncertainty. It was somehow fun, but sadly, Mr. McLaurin felt no chemistry, no attraction to Joan. She seemed to want to extend her stay for a few more days. He was polite and accommodating as he didn’t want to hurt Joan’s feelings.
Nonetheless, he grew more eager to meeting Virginia. Driven by mesmerizing hopes, and certain that he didn’t want to establish any commitment with Joan, he offered Virginia to buy her a ticket so that she would fly to meet him that weekend. He also offered to pay for her hotel, for comfort, safety and respect. Virginia accepted his offer, and made plans to meet him in the next two days.
Mr. McLaurin rushed to see Joan and in the most gentle way possible—if there is a gentle way to deliver news of rejection— told Joan he was not ready for a steady relationship.
Joan left for home.
With an uneasy feeling of relief, he started to get things ready for his next date. Mr. McLaurin finally met Virginia. Love sparkled between them at first glance. For the next days, Mr. McLaurin felt like he did as a junior high school boy when love snuck up on him, grabbed him, and never to let go, when he first saw Marilyn, the girl of his dreams, and years later, the woman who became his wife.
Virginia’s feelings were obviously mutual, and she was eager to consider a long-term relationship. Mr. McLaurin could not believe how beautiful life had become again.
The Internet was the answer to his prayers.
Within a few months, Virginia became Mrs. McLaurin. The newlyweds were the perfect example of love prospering in their golden years.
Life was grand.
And life continued being grand for Mr. McLaurin after three years of marriage, as he deeply loved his Virginia. He told everyone in the nursing home about how they met, and how much he was in love with his wife.
The first time I heard Mr. McLaurin tell the story, I sighed countless times. Tears welled in my eyes as I could feel the sincerity of his words as he recounted the story.
Mr. McLaurin’s health progressively deteriorated in months that followed. He underwent a few surgeries, and he and Virginia hoped that he would complete his rehabilitation, and return to their home.
I heard Virginia had been busy with doctor’s appointments as she had medical issues of her own to contend with. I was also told that she hadn’t said anything to Mr. McLaurin about her health as she didn’t want to worry him.
An team meeting was held to discuss Mr. McLaurin’s rehabilitation status. The meeting went fairly well until a therapist announced that Mr. McLaurin’s discharge was projected for the following week. Virginia became restless and started questioning the planned discharge date, stating that it was too early. As more facts were presented about the criteria for keeping someone under rehabilitation services, Virginia became more inquisitive, and ultimately outraged. She started yelling that she was not ready to take care of her husband at home. Everybody looked at her, astonished. Then, Mr. McLaurin attempted to calm Virginia, but she in return, started screaming at him.
“You have dementia!” She shouted.
Virginia’s merciless words echoed in my head. My heart ached for Mr. McLaurin.
The meeting had to be adjourned, quickly. The Administrator came to speak with Virginia.
I wheeled Mr. McLaurin to his room, trying to solicit conversation from him to minimize the raucous encounter we had just left. Amazingly, Mr. McLaurin did not seem upset.
“She has a temper, but she calms down quickly.” He said during a lull in my apparent soliloquy. His words sounded genuine. “I know she loves me. Things will work out.”
I remained with Mr. McLaurin for a while, making sure he was all right. I recalled that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few months ago, but to me it appeared that his dementia was very mild. The wife’s words sounded so harsh to me that I wished there was somehow a magic wall in between the words and Mr. McLaurin as if a shield, protecting him from any hurt. Any emotional hurt.
To my dismay, I saw that his love for her was actually his shield. Virginia’s desperate words did not touch him at all as his love for her absorbed her rant.
Virginia walked into the room, looking down. She spoke to him calmly. I stepped away, glancing at the two as they embraced and kissed. They looked into each other’s eyes.
I could see there was no need for further words.