Love and marriage at the retirement home: A Valentine’s story

Seniors Mary Ann and Don Ainesworth weren’t looking to be married again, but after bonding in their retirement community over departed spouses, their friendship has blossomed into love and marriage.

(Reuters) – For Seventy-three year-old Mary Ann Padgett and 83-year-old Don Ainesworth, the Westminster retirement community in Lake Ridge, Virginia provided the perfect opportunity for friendship, romance and ultimately love.

The pair is now married. But neither thought they’d tie the knot again, after they both lost their long-time significant others. Don had been married to his first wife for 52 years.

But Mary Ann said it was exactly that topic of conversation that pulled the pair together in the first place.

“I think it was really because we both lost our spouses suddenly and we starting talking about ‘ do you think it’s better that way?'”

For Don, who says his new wife is a “natural talker,” engaging conversation in the retirement community’s dining room was very much welcome and appreciated.

“It took a little while for me to notice all the time that I was frequently sitting at the same table as she was – and she’s a talker. Which is extremely important because I have been through the stage of seven years not talking, with- my first wife had passed away,” said Don.

There are a lot of things going on at Westminster that are worthy of conversation, according to Don. The Ainesworths said they enjoy the various activities offered with community living, like movie nights and fitness classes. Along with the activities comes the social life, which the Ainesworths said they value immensely.

Don – who says a wife is also one’s “social secretary” – is a long-time romantic.

“The relationship with husbands and wives is compelling is all I can say,” said Don.

After numerous group dinners, the dating began – including a summer concert at Virginia’s Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Mary Ann said he proposed on the second date, but with a firm “no” he persisted. With letter after letter about why she should honor his proposal, Mary Ann said he wore her down.

Why the rush? Don jokes, “Never ask a man in his 80’s what the hurry is.”

One of the major reasons, he says, was to have the companionship.

“I said to her that when she got to be in her 80’s cats won’t be enough.” Mary Ann replied, “Well I don’t know. They (cats) are for a lot of ladies here. They don’t want to marry again.”

In fact, neither say they came to Westminster at Lake Ridge with the intention of getting married again. But approximately five months after Don’s first proposal, the couple said “I do” on a snowy day in February, 2015.

When a Westminster apartment big enough for husband and wife became available, they say they jumped at the chance to live together. Mary Ann had been living in her own apartment at the residence and Don had been living in a “cottage” on site.

Now, she says she is enjoying Don’s cooking and being served coffee in the mornings among many other things.

“He’s so thoughtful not just bringing me coffee in the morning but always says ‘what would you like for lunch?’ He has lots of options he makes. Or if he goes to the dry cleaners, you know, ‘can I take anything of yours?’ And I usually don’t have anything to go but he always asks,” says Mary Ann.

“She’s beautiful on the outside and equally important, she’s beautiful on the inside- in her personality and her care and concern for other people,” says Don about his adoring wife.

The bride and groom have planned to go away, in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, with an extra special reason to celebrate. Valentine’s Day last year was exactly one week before they tied the knot.

“Thanks for an exciting year,” said Mary Ann with a smile.