Love After 50: Michael and Genevieve Kvidera

Suzy Hopkins
By Suzy Hopkins September 15, 2011 15:20

The Kvideras

Their 1950s love story went something like this:

Genevieve was shy and quiet. She fell hard for Michael, an older boy who had a mature manner and a great smile. Their dates involved a lot of walks and talks – there wasn’t much money to spare back then.

They got engaged on her 18th birthday in their hometown of Stockton, and he gave her a ring. But soon after the engagement, the ring came off. He says he doesn’t really remember why they broke up. She says he has a selective memory, because there was another girl involved. And boy, was Genevieve mad.

“She probably wanted to shoot me,” Michael, now 79, admits at their kitchen table a distant 60 years later.

In the years that followed the breakup, both married other people whom they loved and cared for. Genevieve married Glen, a Navy man, and raised two daughters. Michael married Marilyn, with whom he raised a son and daughter. Decades passed, and both were caregivers as their spouses suffered with serious illnesses and died.

Five years ago, just before Glen’s death, Genevieve connected with Michael’s brother on Classmates.com. “How’s Michael?” she asked. “Is he still alive?”

Genevieve and Michael connected by email. “Then I got a call from him, saying ‘Marilyn died,’ and I really was upset for him,” recalls Genevieve.

Her heart went out to him. After her husband’s death, their phone and computer chats increased. They bonded with each other while mourning their partner’s deaths. In the process, they found comfort.

“It was like God was saying, Okay, now it’s time for you to connect with Michael,” Genevieve says.

Fifty-three years after the breakup, they met in person – when Genevieve flew from her Oregon home to California to visit family and friends at Thanksgiving – against the advice of her daughter, who was upset at her grieving mother’s interest in another man.

Genevieve’s first impression, as Michael handed her a single rose: “Such a caring guy.”

His: “I was just happy to see her. She wasn’t Twiggy anymore, and her hair was red.”

She flew back and forth for months (“I just about wore Southwest Airlines out”) and endured her daughter’s continuing angst. She and Michael were browsing in a local jewelry store when the clerk showed them a ring they loved. They bought it and returned home, where Michael “dropped to one sore knee – he’d had replacement surgery a few months earlier ­– to propose.”

Despite the lingering pain of grief and mourning, past anger over the breakup, and family protests, “I heard loud and clear from God that this was going to be alright,” Genevieve says.

And it was. They were married on October 4, 2008, at Valley Springs Methodist Church. Her daughters now call him “Dad.”

Genevieve, now 76, says she and her husband make it a point to communicate appreciation for each other. Each values the companionship and support they share.

Back in the early 1950s, says Michael, an Army veteran who served in Korea, “It was more or less puppy love. Today I’ve gone through a military and PG&E career, and am more mature. We appreciate each other more.”

His wife puts it this way: “We couldn’t live without each other.”

© 2011 Friends and Neighbors

Suzy Hopkins
By Suzy Hopkins September 15, 2011 15:20