"The Art of Growing Old"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2018


I mentioned in my last column about changing activities in my lifestyle. One recent activity was a first for me and for most of the participants who shared it with me. There is a common saying I've often heard; "Life goes on." Pat and I saw proof of that saying when we attended the wedding of a good friend.

The bride, Dorothy, is the mother of a friend of ours from Michigan that we wintered with in Florida. She often spent a couple of months at her son's home in Key Largo during the winter months. A couple of years ago, our friend John and his wife, Beth, took an extended trip during our time in Florida. He asked us to help look after his mom.

One Sunday, we invited Dorothy to join us for brunch at a waterfront café and a warm friendship developed. We learned she was a Michigan native and had raised her family in the city Pat and I both hailed from. We talked about many familiar places as we exchanged tales of our younger days in Detroit.

The following week, Dorothy called and invited us to join her for another trip to the same restaurant. We continued talking about many favorite experiences and were surprised to learn she had worked as a waitress at the Brass Rail in downtown Detroit.

Although we had frequently visited many of the same areas, we had never met. When I asked for my check, our waiter said it's taken care of. Perhaps due to all her years of waitressing, Dorothy had finessed her way with the waiter so she could pick up the tab for that meal without my being aware of it.

Later in the winter months as we continued seeing John and Beth, we always asked how Dorothy was doing. We were told, "She really enjoys going to the club and dancing the polka." After John returned to Michigan and resumed working in his roofing business, he met a gentleman named Rich whose roof he was repairing. They were from the same area and as they chatted, Rich mentioned he really loved to polka. John responded, "I think you should meet my mother."

You know the saying that goes, "You're only as old as you feel?"

Well, soon after they met, those two felt like dancing, and dance they did — as often as possible. Pat and I continued to hear reports of the couple really hitting it off as romance blossomed.

About a year went by as they continued to grow closer and entertain everyone on the dance floor. One day, Richard asked John's permission to marry Dorothy. At this time, Dorothy was not sure she wanted to settle down, but Rich persisted and may have borrowed a quote from Robert Browning as he whispered; "Grow old with me, the best is yet to come."

This past June, we were delighted to receive an invitation to their wedding and were pleased to join about 150 other guest who attended from near and far. Although the couple was the focus of the event, the polka band was the absolute best I had ever heard. The wedding couple, Dorothy at a beautiful young 92 and Rich merely 87, all dolled up in their wedding attire, soon began to kick up their heels on the dance floor to everyone's enjoyment.

Every moment of the evening was great; good friends, fine food, beverages, great cake and favors of mint candy for each guest titled, "Mint to Be," with Dorothy and Rich's names and the date of their wedding on them. So it's true — life does go on — and we had a great example that you're never too old to enjoy it.

As I see it, the Kinde Polka Fest would really be a great place for the newlyweds to kick up their heels. I'm going to invite them to come to that great event next year and be part of the entertainment.

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