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Catching Up With Eve Pell For Valentine's Day


Valentine's Day is this week. And in most ways, Eve Pell's romance is like any other love story. She met a guy named Sam. She found him charming. And then she asked her friend to invite both of them to a movie.


MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER: (Reading) I called her. This is very seventh grade, I began. But I'd like you to invite Sam to one of your screenings. I'll come to any movie he's coming to. Soon after, she called. He's coming on Thursday.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Eve and Sam began dating. Eventually, they shared a nervous first kiss.


CARPENTER: (Reading) I have a narrow, uncomfortable sofa in my living room poorly designed for intimacy. But, nevertheless, that was where we sat, and that was where we kissed before he went home.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All throughout their courtship, Eve laughed about his old-fashioned ways.


CARPENTER: (Reading) When he began staying over at my house, he always stopped the newspaper at his house so the neighbors wouldn't know what was going on.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Three years later, they got married. Eve was 71, and Sam was 81. They were married for a few years before Sam died from cancer. Eve wrote about their romance in 2013 for The New York Times column Modern Love. That was singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter reading Eve Pell's essay for the WBUR Modern Love podcast. And now Eve Pell joins us to update her story. Thanks so much for joining us today.

EVE PELL: Happy to be here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So when we last heard about you on the podcast, your third husband had died. You had found love later in life. Tell us what happened after that.

PELL: After Sam died - and he really was the love of my life - I was completely undone. I was a wreck. I heard that hospice was having meetings for people who had lost a spouse. And so I went to this meeting of bereaved people. And there came late and sort of confused into the meeting a very nice-looking, gray-haired guy whose wife had just died.

And then when our series of meetings was over, he came up to me and said, would you ever like to take a walk or have a cup of coffee? And I said yes. So for about a year, we were just friends and had walks and coffee. But then the relationship took a little turn for the romantic. And here I was, even older, falling in love again.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So have you remarried?

PELL: No. I don't think - I can't stand the idea of having four husbands. It's just too much.


PELL: And I don't think he wants to get married, either. We don't live together. We just - we see each other a lot. We stay over at each other's houses. We have a wonderful time. But I don't think we're going to get married.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I wonder, after such a difficult thing of losing, as you now say, the love of your life - is it difficult the older you get to sort of connect with someone?

PELL: I think it's easier.


PELL: By the time you're as old as I am - and pretty soon, I'm going to be 80 - you really know who you are. And with any luck, the guy or the woman or whoever you're involved with knows who they are, too. And so you can, I think, connect more quickly. The other thing is, at this age, you don't have kids to worry about. And a relationship can be, in many ways, less complicated. All you have to do is love each other and be happy. And that's it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You mentioned that you don't live with the person that you're currently seeing. Why?

PELL: Well, he's a musician, and he needs an enormous amount of space.


PELL: And he's got to have a piano that he can play any time of day or night. My house just doesn't fit that. It really works very nicely. I'm an early bird. I'm a runner. I get up and run. He likes to stay up late. He's kind of a night owl. And so it's really easier to have our own houses.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Have your own space - I guess you know that more as you get older, the things that you need to accommodate and the things that you know that you need for yourself.

PELL: Well, it's interesting. You both know what you need. And I also think you develop more patience. And you're not as quick to be annoyed with somebody. You kind of have more tolerance, and you understand the value of humor more than anything (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You wrote a book recently called "Love, Again: The Wisdom Of Unexpected Romance." And you describe traveling the country to speak to older men and women who had fallen in love late in life. What did you learn that surprised you?

PELL: Well, it's a funny thing. I mean, I - since I had done it myself, I wasn't surprised at other men and women falling in love at older ages. One of the things that completely surprised me, though, was how important physical affection, sex, can be. It was very important to everybody that I talked to in every kind of couple, gay and straight. And while it's probably not what you see in movies of passionate 20 and 30-year-olds going at it wildly...


PELL: ...People kind of make compromises or work out different ways of expressing affection. And the physical part is just very, very important.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I guess - yeah. For younger listeners who may be anticipating their older years, do you think love gets better because you are more secure in who you are?

PELL: I wouldn't say better, but I would say different.


PELL: I mean, completely wonderful, young love is utter heaven. I wouldn't - I mean, I'm so glad I had it. I wouldn't have missed it for anything. Old love, I think, is wiser, quieter and, in its own way, absolutely as intense. And so you get to have wonderful, romantic feelings, even though you might have gray hair or be bald. It's completely absorbing and makes you very happy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You can hear Eve's full essay, read by singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, on the Modern Love podcast from member station WBUR. Eve Pell - her book is "Love, Again." Thank you so much for joining us.

PELL: Great talking to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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