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

By

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

I still find that smile, an adorable ear-to-ear curl, irresistible. He likes my smile too, and from the start, we uncannily agreed on almost every principle in life, including the fact that I wasn't going to the mountains with the draft resister after all. But as our wedding preparations limped along, I was in an agony of doubt: Could I, an antiwar radical, join the establishment? Could I deny my dreams and marry a man more than twice my age? Before I knew it, Bob would be stooped and feeble. Our toddler would snatch his walker out from under him.

It is the nature of fate to mock one's visions of the future. Almost 30 years later, my age is not far from that of my husband when he married me. I don't see myself with a walker—ever. I plan to go on working, hiking, swimming, and playing countless games of tennis. My husband, who is now 86, still does all four.

When our first child, Joshua, was born, Bob, at 64, carried him everywhere in a sling, then in a backpack, then on his hip. He threw him up and down on the bed like a baseball and constantly serenaded him with "Give My Regards to Broadway." Six years later, Bob was less physically active with our second child, Amy, but he lavished his jokes, his songs, and his impish smile upon her. Now, inexplicably, he has more energy than I do.

Our marriage has had its predictable ups and downs. But, for most of it, we honestly weren't aware of our age difference.

Time has started to catch up with us, however. On the weekend, he gardens; I go for vigorous bike rides. He rests; I read. Lately, I'm the one who opens stubborn jars and carries the heavy bags to the car.

Respect, however, doesn't grow old. Neither does love. My sister, Penelope, reminded me of a ride we took recently on a historic train in California: "It was a beautiful train. Shiny brass and old, burled wood. I looked over, and you and Bob were just smiling at each other for the longest time. You told me later that, for both of you, each moment like that is that much more special because it resonates with a kind of good-bye."