She's 28, He's 58: They Made It Work

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older man marrying younger woman
Lucinda Franks reflects on 30 years of marriage with a man 30 years older.

When my husband announced he was marrying me, his cousin asked him to see a psychiatrist. His sister put her hand to her head. His four children, two dogs, and one cat turned up their noses at the very sight of us. My friends dispensed equal encouragement. "What's going to happen when he's 75?" asked one of them. "You love to hike and swim. Can he still do stuff like that?" wondered another.

At age 58, Bob Morgenthau was some three decades older than I was, and back in the 1970s, May-December marriages between professionals were about as popular as Cambodian root canal. "You don't plan to have children, do you?" asked one of Bob's kids, horrified.

Only my dad, a mere six years older than my husband, was cheerful about Bob's proposal. "Isn't that nice," he said.

We felt like Romeo and Juliet—albeit a hoarier version—for, in the face of universal resistance, we fell even more hopelessly in love.

It all began with a simple, white, knit poncho. I wore it while interviewing Bob for a story about the fall of the Nixon administration, which had forced him out as U.S. attorney in 1970. After I left, he had the peculiar experience of being haunted by the garment. And because I had asked so many questions, he thought I was either the dumbest or the smartest reporter he had ever met. Mercifully, when he read my story, he concluded I was the latter.

He became a good news source, but who knew it was more than news he wanted to share? I, somewhat of a hippie,was living with a draft resister from the Vietnam War—who liked to answer the phone. He never told me about Bob Morgenthau's calls. Then Bob was elected New York district attorney while I was on a trip to the Colorado mountains with the draft resister, scouting out a place to live and write my novel. The night before I was to finally leave the city, Bob called and convinced me to go to a fancy party. I agreed, thinking he wanted to pass along one last story before I gave up my job at The New York Times. In the middle of the party, Jackie Onassis—at the time still a recluse— came radiantly through the door, and even the snootiest guests stared and smiled. I looked up at Bob, and he was smiling too, but not at Jackie O.

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