Ann McKenna Fromm
WRITER: Books, Essays, Ghostwriting
Let’s Go Zip-lining!
April 14, 2016Let’s Go Zip-lining!
Ted and Carol Payne chose Hawaii for their honeymoon. It was April, 2016.
They’d both been married before. Carol was divorced and Ted was a recent widower. By all accounts, including books they each wrote, Ted and his first wife had been a devoted and happy couple. Married at 18, they’d had four boys by the time they were 23. All four boys turned out to be hard-working adults, good parents themselves, and, as Ted said, “they got the ‘Honor thy father and thy mother’ gene.” As Ted nursed Dorothy during her final illness (during which their oldest boy himself died after a long illness), children and grandchildren rallied round.
Dorothy couldn’t go out much then because of her lowered resistance, and, with their son Bill, I was one of their numerous visitors. I loved Dorothy, and was awed by how involved she stayed with life around her. She cooked when she could, watched concerts on TV, read books. She’d always had a good memory and she told lively anecdotes of all the people she’d known.
The end took two years. By then, Ted was doing all the care-giving, cooking, washing. “I’d do it all over again,” he said.
For months afterwards, grief paralyzed him, and he wondered where to start with packing up their big house. Then he remembered Carol. A high school friend to both of them, she’d even attended Dorothy’s memorial service.
“Stop by if you’re ever in Arizona,” she’d said to Ted then. But Ted lived in San Diego, California.
You wouldn’t have known Ted was 83, or Carol 82. He began to hop in his car and drive to Arizona, swinging by to visit his sister, eight years older and housebound with arthritis. Ruth loved his visits. Carol wasn’t so sure.
But Ted had made up his mind. He was persuasive. Love is love whether you’re 20 or 45 or 80. I know that, because I fell in love with Ted’s son, Bill, long after I would have thought possible. You are 18 again, with the same heartbeat, and the same joy.
Ted proposed to Carol. He said he would move to Arizona if she didn’t want to leave. He converted to Carol’s religion, Mormonism, and hosted a lunch for both their families after the 2015 Baptism. From around the country, children turned up for it. Carol has five children and numerous grandchildren, and Ted’s boys had put aside whatever struggles they may have had about their father’s upcoming wedding. They had loved their mother deeply and it hadn’t been a year since her death. When one of them asked Ted about that, he’d said, “Carol wanted to wait too. But why? We don’t have much time.”
Yet, like all lovers, they acted as if there was time. Before their wedding, Ted and Carol bought property on a beautiful woodsy lot and drew up plans for their new house. Construction began. Families beamed during the simple March wedding ceremony. The newlyweds headed to Hawaii.
What amazed me was the photo they texted soon afterwards. They’d gone zip-lining. They’d each buckled into a harness and hung from the aerial cable attached to the line. Fear filled them. Then they were off. It was finger-tingling thrilling. The ground tilted up to meet them and tropical earth smells filled their senses. The sound of metal sang down the line of coiled steel. Under their helmets, the wind tore at their hair.
And then it was over. They looked at each other, faces alight. You’re 18 when you’re running a zip-line, too.