Finding Love After 60: Jeanne Rittenhouse and Bob Myers

Joan Jackson
By Joan Jackson September 15, 2016 13:09

Older adults are marrying in record numbers. What’s it like to find new love later in life? Four couples told their stories to FAN in the Autumn 2016 issue.  Read their stories here: Susan Schlindwein and Bob Hornauer, Nancy Stowell-Freiberg and Duane Freiberg, Dana and Monty Youngborg

Jeanne and Bob

Jeanne and Bob

 

 

Newlyweds Jeanne Rittenhouse, 67, and Bob Myers, 77, sit next to each other on the sofa, glance at each other and grin as they recount their courtship.

“We met on the internet,” says Jeanne, looking over at Bob. “And we laugh a lot.”

Jeanne’s brother began encouraging her to join an online dating site a few months after her husband, George, died. “I lost George to Alzheimer’s in August of 2013, but I lost him long before that,” Jeanne says.

After 35 years of marriage, she approached the dating idea cautiously. “I was afraid my brother would post my information himself,” she adds with a smile. Finally, waving her brother off, she signed up with seniorpeoplemeet.com.

Bob lost his wife, Priscilla, to a brain tumor in 2010 after nearly 50 years of marriage. After more than a year of loneliness, he too signed up with seniorpeoplemeet.com.

“I thought I’d try a few dates. Luckily I ended up with this one,” he says with a sweet nod at Jeanne.

“Bob caught my interest because he’d been to Bodie several times,” says Jeanne, referring to the High Sierra ghost town she’d been wanting to explore.

“Plus he was a widower,” she explains. “He knew what it was like to lose someone.”

They chatted online for a couple of weeks and finally decided to meet face-to-face at the Sonora Crossroads Starbucks in January 2014.

Over a latte, Jeanne remembers telling Bob ever so seriously, “I’m not interested in a long-term relationship, but I miss that guy perspective. I’m just looking for a friend.”

A little over two and a half years later, she shakes her head and quips, “Ha ha on me.”

They discovered in that early conversation that they both liked to hike, so they agreed to go on a “not-a-date” hike.

On the day of the walk, it was pouring rain, so Jeanne invited Bob for a “not-a-date” lunch at her house. She carefully let friends know that she was inviting him over.

“I asked him if he was a serial killer,” she chuckles. “He told me he kills a bowl of cereal every morning.”

Bob and Jeanne finally hiked Sonora’s Dragoon Gulch Trail together a few weeks later. By that time they were ready to call it a date.

“We had lunch,” says Bob.

“Then he reached over and held my hand,” says Jeanne.

Their relationship grew over the next two years, hiking, traveling, sharing their past and always laughing.

Jeanne figured that Bob, who had been a firefighter with the El Cerrito Fire Department for 28 years, would be a great cook. “I thought ‘A fireman, score!’ ” she exclaims. Then adds with a sigh, “Not.”

“Well, I’m a willing sous chef,” he says cheerfully.

Each appreciates the ease of a relationship in which they can talk about the past without worry. “Getting married when you’re older, when you’ve lost a spouse – we know it’s OK to talk about our spouses,” says Jeanne.

Bob and first wife Priscilla met in New York State when they were young, and married just before moving to California. He joined the fire department, and they had a son and a daughter. “It was a great move and a great career,” he says.

In 1989 they retired to Dorrington in the Calaveras County high country.

When Jeanne and her husband George met and married, each came with kids – his four and her two. “I think of them all as my own,” says Jeanne. They both had careers in the Silicon Valley but owned a vacation cabin in Pine Mountain Lake. When it came time to retire in 1998, they moved from San Jose to Sonora.

Twelve years into retirement, George was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and the disease progressed slowly and painfully. He finally became so ill that Jeanne was unable to safely care for him at home and had to place him in long-term care.

“Putting him in a home was even harder than him dying,” she says.

While Jeanne and Bob still maintain their homes in Sonora and Dorrington, she asked him to bring photos of Priscilla and his family to the Sonora house where they spend much of their time. “I wouldn’t want to give up my memories, and I wouldn’t want Bob to give up his,” says Jeanne.

“You’ll never meet someone the same,” reflects Bob. “It’s different, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good.”

When they married in April, Bob and Jeanne chose Cathy Heller’s “You Make Me Happy” as their wedding song.

“That sums it up for both of us. You may not be my only true love, but you make me happy,” says Jeanne.

And what about Bodie?

In the last two years they’ve traveled extensively, including nearly a month in a rented motor home for their honeymoon with Jeanne’s dog, Angie, but they still haven’t made it to Bodie.

They look at each other and smile. Maybe soon.

Copyright © 2016 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Joan Jackson
By Joan Jackson September 15, 2016 13:09
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