Young love, still: ‘The bride, 97, is keeping her name.’

January 27, 2013

“The bride, 97, is keeping her name.”

Those words, all the way back on page 15 of the Sunday Styles section, formed the loveliest sentence in today’s New York Times.

They appear in the wedding announcement for Ada Bryant and Robert Haire — a notice that tells us so much about what it means to keep open the possibility for happiness, no matter what our age.

Their love story has all the angst and tentativeness of a teen-age couple’s. He didn’t know how to express his feelings, so he wrote them in a sonnet and left it outside her apartment door at the Wilmington, Del., retirement community where they both live. She replied by leaving a note under his door.

When he proposed, it was not with a ring, but with a loose sapphire. Again, their romance was all about the possibilities.

There was one hitch, however: He is only 86. That was why she first turned him down.

“There’s a great difference in our ages, as you can see,” Bryant told The Times. “I didn’t think it was the thing to do because I don’t have that many years ahead of me, but he said, ‘That’s all the more reason.’”

In the “Modern Love” column of that same section of today’s Times, Eve Pell writes of marrying — and losing — the love of her life when she was in her 70s and he in his 80s.

“Old love is different,” she says in the piece. “In our 70s and 80s, we had been through enough of life’s ups and downs to know who we were, and we had learned to compromise. We knew something about death because we had seen loved ones die. The finish line was drawing closer. Why not have one last blossoming of the heart?”

That blossoming was brief, ending after Sam was diagnosed with the cancer that killed him.

But Pell wrote: “Not only was I happy during my short years with Sam, I knew I was happy. I had one of the most precious blessings available to human beings — real love. I went for it and found it. … He and I often told each other, ‘We are so lucky.’ And we were. Young love, even for old people, can be surprisingly bountiful.”

Karen Tumulty is a Post political reporter.

Karen Tumulty is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where she received the 2013 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.
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