Four Months In

Four Months In: Couple Glad They Chanced Second Marriage

Junice and Dean Lawrence on their wedding day in June. They live in Ashburn.
Junice and Dean Lawrence on their wedding day in June. They live in Ashburn. (By Stephanie Terry)
By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 18, 2009

Like any gal would be, Junice Lawrence was a little nervous about taking her new guy to meet her old friends at a high school reunion.

It's just that most women aren't dealing with these particular jitters en route to their 60th reunions.

She shouldn't have worried. Junice's pals did give Dean "the eye" when they met him in September, but her well-mannered husband of four months quickly won them over.

Junice met the Indiana native a year ago, shortly after they both moved into Ashby Ponds, a retirement community in Ashburn. She'd come into possession of some sheet music from the 1920s and the clerk at the front desk suggested she leave it for a gentleman who was often at the piano in the lounge.

"A couple days later this man comes up and says, 'I'm Dean Lawrence and I wanted to thank you for the music,' " recalls Junice, stylish at 78 in gold earrings and auburn hair. To show his appreciation, Dean asked if he could take her on a trip the center was sponsoring to a high school ballet performance.

Junice agreed. Soon she and Dean, a 75-year-old former business executive who likes button-down shirts and well-pressed pants, were a pair.

"We had a lot of cups of tea together. A lot of hours of conversation," she says, "really getting to know each other."

They'd both grown up with three older brothers and had happy marriages that lasted more than 50 years. Both had cared for spouses with long-term illnesses and buried them in December 2007.

Both thought they could not love again.

"In the very beginning I had a very strange feeling of, 'Is this right? To be dating again?' " recalls Junice. "And to be feeling these feelings for another man."

"We'd been so true-blue to our spouses all those years," Dean adds. "It feels like such a breach of that whole experience of 50-plus years."

Junice was conflicted enough to seek the counsel of her pastor and a hospice worker who'd helped her through her husband's death. "My pastor said, 'You know, you were a very good wife and a very attentive wife, and you did everything you could do.' And he said, 'You've come to the end of your period of mourning'," she recalls. "You can't grieve for the rest of your life, in other words."

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