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It started with a smile and ended with a proposal. It was August 2014 after joining the 50 plus club that I received a smile from a man known only to me as 'Lasttango' in my Inbox. I returned the smile and viewed his profile. He was handsome, lived within a 3.5 hour commute, and I liked his profile. In the days following, a few smiles appeared in my Inbox but never a message. Finally, I sent a message introducing myself and asking him a few questions. I had a free membership and being so new to the site I had no idea that it was limited to only 5 emails before purchasing one. Keep this in mind if you don't have a premium membership.
After understanding the difference in the memberships, I had to make a decision whether to share my personal e-mail or not. This was a very risky decision because of the romantic scammers that exist in today's society. It also meant he would know my true identity because he knew me only as 'Out2Sea'. What should I do?
After weighing my options on whether to share my e-mail address or not, I made the decision to do it. My first message I shared my real identity and asked "lasttango" about himself. In his reply he told me his name was Ralph but did not tell me his last name. Being curious, I wrote back and asked if he was in the witness protection program or was I permitted to know his last name. He was amused by my message and replied, 'it's the dance of love'. Now, since I knew nothing about dancing another round of questions ensued. Finding it incredible that anyone did not know that was the Tango, he assumed I was 'living in a cave'. That phrase has become a joke between us.
There's a lesson here for you, when writing to a stranger never assume the recepient has the same life experiences and will understand what you are conveying. It's always best to use the KISS method of communicating (keep it simple stupid).
After emailing, talking on the phone and instant messaging a date was arranged to meet. I drove to New Jersey because I love the beach. Ralph lives on a barrier island, the ocean is on one side and the bay is on the other. He met me in the center of his small town in his pickup truck with his buddy, Marcus. He had talked about Marcus extensively in our communications and I thought he was his best friend. In a way, I was right. Marcus turned out to be an adorable 11 inch beagle. Our first date was at Island Beach State Park. Ralph has a permit to drive on the beach so we went for a ride out to the breakers where we saw Barnegat Light at dusk. The entire time the conversation between us seemed easy. I liked this man.
Here's a few things I did in preparation for this date. I made sure two people knew where I was going, who I was with and when I was returning. I also had them call me to make sure everything was going all right. I established a code word in case there was a problem they would know assistance was needed but the person I was with would have no idea what I was talking about while they were listening. In this day and age, think about safety.
At Thanksgiving, I introduced Ralph and Marcus to my son and his family. Everyone seemed to get along fine. The boys have no pets so they loved playing with Marcus. It was my oldest grandson's birthday and we had gotten a cake along with gifts to celebrate. Everyone seemed too full for dessert so we delayed serving it for a couple hours. Finally my grandson approached me and said it was time for cake. He went into the family room to retrieve his father and Ralph to join us in the dining room. Approaching Ralph with a wide grin, he yelled, 'Hey Ralphie Boy, it's time for cake.' Ralph laughed and said, 'Ralphie Boy, no one's referred to me that way in years.' Everyone just laughed. He and my oldest grandson bonded immediately.
Before introducing Ralph to my family, I read several articles about introducing a partner along with second marriages and blending families. AARP has several good articles on these topics alone. Going into uncharted territory without a course is not a good strategy for success.
After living together for several months Ralph and I have decided to marry on December 19th. Being older and marrying for a second time is interesting. We both were married by Judges with our first marriages with no big fanfare. This time we've decided to include some select family members to join us and be married in my home by a friend of mine whose a Judge. I must admit my first wedding required less planning. This time there are a few guests and a cake. We are cooking dinner together for everyone afterwards and I wouldn't want it any other way. What could be more perfect than sharing our joy with family and having everyone bond over some great Italian cooked food!
Before saying, 'I do' at this age, there's a lot more to consider. For example, I'm a widow receiving a pension from my late husband. Does that pension continue if I remarry? I'm still working, will Ralph be able to be covered under my health insurance? Which state offers us the best deals for car insurance and taxes to decide where to live in retirement. What about our children? How do we split assets when one of us dies? Do I change my name knowing what an effort that will be. There's a lot of challenging decisions that need discussed and addressed long before the 'I do' happens. After all this we're still saying, 'I do' and we hope you do too.
Photo: © drubig-photo / fotolia.de