My Mother’s Daughter

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My mother loved romance. She devoted her life to the idea of it. She avidly read romance novels, watched the Hallmark channel religiously, and constantly sang the love songs of her youth every chance she could get.

Three years after my step-father passed away, she finally at the age of 82, she allowed herself to date. As fate would have it, at an afternoon social dance sponsored by her local senior center, she met Jerry—an 87-year-old retired newspaper printer with a penchant for driving fast and competing in ballroom dancing events. He literally swept my mother off her feet.

They had five years together. At one point they talked about marriage, but my mother made herself clear. “I don’t want a marriage,” she told him, “I want a romance.” They ended up living in the same retirement home but in different apartments. They met for meals, long walks, and hot dates, which usually consisted of holding hands on the sofa and falling asleep within the first ten minutes of the latest Rick Steves  travel show. They definitely had the best of both worlds.  I asked her once what the nature of her relationship was like with Jerry and was both surprised and elated when she said quite simply, “he’s the love of my life.”  

It don’t think it’s easy following one’s heart and believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person whom you’re attracted to is your destiny, but my mother was a believer. We read the same novels and watched the same movies whenever we got together. We’d binge on romance with our boxes of Kleenex and mugs of cocoa, telling stories and reflecting on our dreams of knights on white horses and bad boys who made good.

Mom passed away the summer of 2012, and there’s not a day since that I don’t think of her and her romantic heart. She’s definitely the reason why I read and write romance, and why I, too, believe in the power of love and the happy-ever-after ending.  It’s easy when you see it lived out every day of your life, as I did thanks to mom.

Gwen Overland