The party is over. Most of the dishes have been put away, including the Wedgwood coffee cups that only are used for special occasions. The white linens are in the laundry basket and the tables and chairs are stacked to return to the rental company.
The visible remains of the celebration are the bouquets in the house and on tables in the yard. Some may consider the flowers as weeds just because they were picked by the roadside, but the combination of Queen Anne's lace and purple loosestrife is quite smashing. It's always a good idea to keep scissors in the car to have handy when there's an urge to clip wild blooms along the way.
When my guests were told that I would be giving a wedding shower in honor of an 80-year-old bride-elect, most of the responses expressed surprise, which intensified when they were told that it was her first marriage. Granted, the average first marriage occurs about a half century earlier than the 80-year mark.
Listeners asked why a couple would marry at that age. There also was some rude laughter and remarks like "you're kidding" and "no way."
But along with all the negative responses there were as many people who said "wonderful, great, beautiful, good for her" to the idea that the lovely white-haired spinster found love at that age. Those people certainly have the right opinion.
It has been pure pleasure to share the upcoming event with someone I have known for most of those 80 years. Since she became engaged she often says, "It is so unexpected."
It brings a lump in the throat, and a tear or two, to witness the joining of two kindred spirits that otherwise would be alone. Her fiance is 81 years old, and it would be a toss-up to guess which of the two has the broadest smile when they talk about future plans and gently hold hands.
I keep humming the Perry Como song, "Catch a Falling Star" and remembering the line from it "Love comes along and taps you on the shoulder some starless night."
So why am I going on and on about the romance of two people you don't know? The answer is, because it's important for those people who ask why would anyone bother to get married at that age, to realize that such narrow thinking hides the rainbow that overflows with happiness for two people and for their families.
Why can't people fall in love in later years? Who said there is an age cut-off for love, devotion, respect, and companionship that can be given and received wholeheartedly at any age?
There well may be more axioms and quotations about age than any other subject. Having just celebrated another birthday anniversary, I should know how many sayings well-wishers enjoy tossing out when seniors are trying desperately to blow out all the candles. Some of the more common are "You're only as old as you feel" and "Age is just a number."
Abraham Lincoln put it another way. He is quoted as saying, "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years."
Norman Vincent Peale's advice to "Live your life and forget your age" works for me. You may as well forget about things you can't change.
Jeanne Moreau, the beautiful 76-year-old French actress, links love and age in a quotation that applies beautifully to the 80-year-old couple who soon will exchange marriage vows. It is also something we should all remember.
"Age does not protect you from love, but love, to some extent, protects you from age," Ms. Moreau said. With that in mind, let's wish the newlyweds an ageless love.