Never Say Never
"How would you like to accompany me to England for a week of sightseeing?" I stared at the e-mail in disbelief. It was from Mel, the widower I had been dating for six months.
I immediately replied, "Thank you for your generous offer, but I must respectfully decline. As much as I enjoy your company, I would not be comfortable traveling with a man I wasn't married to. Besides, I don't have a passport."
My dear husband of fifty-one years had died three years earlier. I learned to ease my grief by reading, writing, attending church functions and visiting my children and grandchildren. But as time passed, I missed belonging to a partnership.
Then friends invited me to a party where I met Mel. He was attractive, intelligent and had an engaging personality. To my surprise, he called two weeks later and invited me to join him for dinner.
I discovered being part of a couple again opened new vistas. Soon we were receiving invitations to parties and meeting each other's friends. After being in a desert of loneliness, I enjoyed the social oasis of dinners, concerts and theater.
We talked freely about our deceased spouses and how blessed we were to have found true love with them.
Because we didn't think it was possible to find that level of love more than once in a lifetime, we both admitted our decisions to never marry again and decided to enjoy the companionship we found in each other.
Consequently, I was shocked at the invitation to travel together and questioned Mel's motives. Certain my response would sever our relationship, I was surprised when he phoned.
"I got your reply. Let's forget I asked about the trip."
Relieved, I mumbled, "Thanks for understanding."
"We are still going out tomorrow night, aren't we?"
"Sure." After all, he didn't seem to feel awkward about the situation, so why should I?
The following evening he held the car door open with one hand and handed me a legal looking paper with the other. "Just happened to be in the post office today and picked this up for you."
It was an application for a passport. What? Why, that sly man! Without comment, I tucked it into my purse and changed the subject. Nothing more was said, and we enjoyed the evening.
Amused he had bothered to get me an application, I filled out the papers, had my photo taken and doled out the $75.00 fee without telling him.
While attending a party with friends, we were invited to join their dance club. I was excited, but Mel resisted. "I played trumpet in a swing band during my youth so I never danced very much."
"If you're a musician, you've got rhythm," I reminded him. "If you've got rhythm, you can dance."
Although reluctant at first, Mel relented and agreed to take ballroom dance lessons — where he held me in his arms for the first time. With him holding me, I felt my heart melt... and immediately rued our platonic relationship.
But I couldn't tell him lest he remind me about our "never marry again" agreement.
Then he began bringing candy and flowers, and I knew I was being courted. Although he was careful not to mention marriage, I sensed we were falling in love. Still, neither of us said a thing until the day he invited me to dinner at his house.
Fine china, crystal and sterling silver on a white linen tablecloth greeted me. Red roses graced the table. Before we sat down to eat, I confessed I had applied for and received my passport. When I showed it to him, his eyes sparkled and he flashed a mischievous grin.
He served a delicious rack of lamb with all the trimmings and we had a lively conversation as we ate. During dessert he said, "Sally, if I asked you to marry me, what would you say?"
"You haven't asked me yet." My startled response was quick. Awkward. Even a little coy.
"I think I just did."
Unprepared, I stammered, "Oh. Oh. P-p-probably."
He looked dejected, but didn't pursue the subject. I was so surprised I didn't know what to say. We cleared away dinner and cleaned up his kitchen, then he took me home.
Most of that night I lay awake pondering his proposal. I had been married to an extraordinary man once. But Mel was wonderful, too. Was it possible to marry two extraordinary men in one lifetime?
The next morning, he called. "Last night I asked you to marry me and you said probably. How about a more definite answer," he urged. "Like yes?"
"But... what about our agreement?"
"Let's just forget it."
"Forget what?" I smiled into the phone, tingling with excitement.
He replied, "Let's fly to England for our honeymoon and 'never say never' again."
By Sally Kelly-Engeman
From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Older and Wiser
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