I met Sandy at a nursing home in 1994, so next year it will
have been a twenty year friendship. She is a nurse who comes
across as a stern, strict, and ‘no fooling around’ kind of gal. I
loved her because she really took charge and made a difference
in the wing that she would be assigned. My activity assistant and
I would give her a list of the residents that were going out the
next day and she made sure that they were up, had eaten and
had the nursing assistants dress them in presentable, “going
One day, after a long but fun trip to the Park of Roses, I found
Sandy on the back patio, with her feet up and drinking a diet
cola. She was very friendly and asked questions about our outing.
I thanked her, as I usually did, for her great efforts to help us have
a successful activity, no matter what it was.
She sighed, told me that she and her good friend had just bought a
house together. She was looking content, a little bit more happier
than I had ever seen her. She then told me a beautiful love story
between her and an antiques auctioneer.
They had lived up the hill from this very nursing home, neighbors
on different schedules. She was coming in at night and her neighbor
would be leaving. She said that they started talking about having coffee
sometime together. They commented on each other’s choice of pets.
Sandy has had golden retrievers and her friend had cats.
Her friend was a hippie at heart with some natural roots. You could tell
from Sandy’s tone and her demeanor that she was very enthralled with
the memory of their romance.
Sandy described their meetings as like strangers across a room. Only they
would pass each other for many months before they started to hang out
and fit their schedules together. Sometimes talking while one was getting
in their car to leave.
On their first time to share a cup of coffee together, Sandy had her dog come
along as a guest. The golden retriever, Aspen, took to one of the host cats,
Serena, right away. The two new friends looked at each other smiling, she
commented, with such a fond smile on her face.
I wanted to hear more! I felt very lucky that Sandy, who seemed so distant
while working, was warming up to tell me their story.
They had several visits filled with great talks, good discussions, and intense
debates. Sandy is a Democrat and she has been an EMT which created
more conversations. Her new friend was a Republican and from a devout
Christian background. Sandy had tried a marriage with someone whose
family was like this new friend’s. Sandy and her ex-husband had served
in the Air Force.
Sandy explained that relationship ‘fizzled before it ever sparked.’ It was more
of a ‘trial and error’ situation. She tried and it was a mistake!
Sandy said she and her new partner were both private people. They did not
think about any kind of future or consequences from getting to know each
They would joke when they would call to see if the other were busy, “Hey, do
you want the pet parade to begin?”
Sandy was from Cleveland, a big city girl (Parma, Ohio) and thought they
could be more open and free once they got to know each other.
Suzie was from a farm in a county close by and she was very much raised by
strict parents. If there were ever a love affair, it would have to be behind
After over a year, some changes were noticeable between the two friends.
It had become more than what looked like a long friendship. Sandy said
one night they were watching a movie, when they leaned sideways towards
each other. They held hands and Sandy swears a ‘spark flew across our
shoulders where they touched.’
Jumping forward to the middle years that I knew this couple, I would approach
them in restaurants sitting on opposite sides of the table. Each would stand and
I would hug each one of them.
This simple public display of affection (PDA) is unusual because this was not
in the fabric of their relationship. They were discreet but intense lovers. There
was a time that Sandy said, “My breath caught in my throat when I saw her
lying in my bed. I never imagined this to be so, but our love is a true and faithful
Sandy and Suzie have a beautiful life together. They enjoy decorating their yard
at Halloween with graves, skeletons and haunted images. They spend hours
setting it all up. They enjoy the children coming up to get their treats. They are
thrilled when they get to know them from year to year. There sometimes is a
wistful tone when they talk about children. I think that they both wish there
could have been more than the pets.
Their home is in a nice neighborhood, kept well with beautiful trees, a privacy
fence for their current dogs and cats to roam around in. They decorate it all
with unique talent for every season and I enjoy the Christmas decorations the
most. Suzie has placed many special antiques throughout the home with a
few natural and rustic details also.
My Mom has met this couple a few times. She is very open minded and says
they remind her of the days that she would visit her “maiden aunts.” They
were not related, Mom remembers, just lived together in harmony. Her own
mother, my grandmother, would say, “That couple makes others feel so good
just to be around them!”
My mother says she was an adult of over 26 years when it hit her like a bolt of
lightning! She now says, “That’s when I realized they were gay!”
Sandy works at another nursing home and is more stout than when I met her
and Suzie is still thin with long, flowing hair. Each wears a wedding band on
their left hand with no official document to prove its meaning.
They have what I want: unconditional love.