... I was at the head of the list
Russ and Dot.
Russell and I met at a singles' party in the autumn of 1987. Both of us had had
happy, long-standing marriages and were in “recovery”, if you will, from the deaths
of our spouses.
When we met, after each had suffered through a series of unsuitable romantic
partners, I was 60 and he was 74. We agreed that at those ages we knew what we
wanted, and so we wasted little time. About a year after we met I moved from Newton
to Melrose to live with Russell.
We spent twenty-one years together. They were happy times, chock full of families,
friends and activities. Often, at first, Russell wondered why we were so busy. I
patiently explained that when you join a woman who has a loving family, many friends
and activities, with a man who also has his own family ties, friends and interests,
of course a busy life would ensue. We learned to cherish each person and each
For many years we lived that lively life. We visited often with his three children,
including five grandchildren, and with my son and his wife, newlyweds who went on to
have three delightful children. We invited all the relatives to our home, too. It
became a revered custom for the two families to gather under one roof for
Russell and I both enjoyed reading. Perhaps “enjoyed” is too tame a word. Each of us
felt restless and unfulfilled if we weren't engrossed in a book. We were active
members of two book groups: the Great Books group that met at the Melrose Public
Library twice a month during the school year; and the Book Club that was part of the
same singles group through which we met.
We also attended the North Shore Music Theatre and the Lyric Stage of Boston
regularly. Then too, there was Russell's passion for sailing. At his insistence I
took sailing lessons. I never did become a skillful sailor, but I learned to love
being on the water. Through sailing and the sailing club to which Russell had
belonged for years, I met new, exciting friends. We had many wonderful
trips on friends' boats.
In April of 1993 we went with a man named Charles and another friend, Ford, to help
bring Charles's boat north on the Intracoastal Waterway from West Palm Beach to
Annapolis. That trip produced many long-lived, fascinating memories.
Russ and Dot and their Airstream.
Not content with traveling on boats, cars, trains, buses and airplanes, in 1993 we
bought an Airstream travel trailer. Russell had owned several such trailers and he
related those adventures with such gusto that I set up a howl to experience the
Airstream life. That, too, added to the richness of our life together. We not only
met new friends, but over the next dozen years we participated in ten Caravans,
organized by the Wally Byam Club. Through those trips we covered most of the United
States and a good deal of Canada, experiencing new adventures and witnessing sights
we would not have seen otherwise.
We had a memorable twenty-one years. But all good things must and do end. In 2009,
at the age of ninety-five, Russell died. Anticipating that he would probably
predecease me, I had arranged to move to a town near Keene, New Hampshire to live
with my one sibling and her husband. That worked out pretty well, but I had not
realized how much I would miss Melrose and my friends and activities here.
After less than half a year in New Hampshire, I stayed with a longtime friend on
Cape Cod while my sister and Allan were in Florida. During that visit I told Marian
how I felt about my living arrangements. She replied, “I never did understand why
you left Melrose. It hasn't been that long; why don't you call and see if there's
I was connected with a woman named Mary Means at the Congregational Retirement Homes
(CRH), who said, “Give me some time for research and I'll call you back.” When she
did, she reminded me that I had signed on with CRH in 1996 but then had put myself
on HOLD in 1997. As a result, I was at the top of the list. I had honestly been so
involved in my life with Russell that I had totally forgotten having signed with
CRH. It came as a total yet pleasant surprise to know that I was at the top of the
A week later I received another call, this time from the Jonathan Cochrane House,
telling me there was a vacant apartment I was invited to see. I made the trip from
Cape Cod, liked what I saw, and arranged to move back to Melrose.
That was the biggest and most welcome surprise of my life.
September 2, 2011