Finding love in the golden years
By Julie Rienstra of Redwood Falls
Ralph is just an amazing man, always thinking of others and willing to help anyone with anything they need. He is a very spry 88 years young. Up until this year he has been doing wonderful things to help everyone in our neighborhood, such as blowing snow, mowing lawns, hauling our trash cans to the curb, and giving rides if needed, just to mention a few.
Ralph was married to the love of his life Jan Revier for 64 years. It was love at first sight for him, however it took three times in asking her to marry him that it finally worked. They were blessed with five children. They married in 1956 and Ralph always gave Jan a rose for however many years they were married (tells you again what kind of an amazing person he is). He was able to present her with 63 beautiful roses in the final bouquet. Jan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and became a resident at a nursing home. It was very difficult for Ralph, with COVID going on he was not allowed to go inside and spend time with her. He had to try and speak with her through an outside window to her room. Gradually she deteriorated and passed away on April 13, 2020. However Ralph was able to get to the nursing home in time to hold her in his arms and say goodbye and be with her one final time. It was a very sad time for him being married for such a long time.
After Jan passed Ralph kind of isolated himself, but still kept busy doing his normal things for others. One Sunday I decided to pick him up and bring him along to church with me -- First Presbyterian Church of Redwood Falls. I kind of made some humor about it when I introduced him by saying I picked this hitchhiker up in my alley and decided to bring him to church. It still remains a continued joke whenever I bring a new guest to church with me.
Anyway, it’s the best thing that ever happened. He felt so welcomed and included that he ended up joining the church as a member. I might add that he has only missed church one time in two years when he traveled to Colorado for his daughter’s wedding. (Again, the kind of man he is!)
There is another member of my church named Dori Steenblock. She and her husband Dan were members and used to sit behind me quite frequently and that’s how I got to know them. Dori’s husband Dan also passed away. She was a caregiver to him and was with him up until the day he passed away in 2019. Well who would have guessed, but Ralph and Dori both ended up in the same bible study group and one thing led to another and here we are with the unexpected togetherness of this couple.
Ralph is 88 years old and was married for 35 years. Dori is 79 years old and was married for 35 years. Neither one was looking for a companion, but bible study brought them together. It just happened naturally! Ralph has always joked, “I’m not looking for a purse or a nurse, I just would like someone who can cook!” The funny part... Dori admits she cannot cook!
Both say they were very lonely and sat home alone a lot of times before they got together. Now they both smile a lot more, are happier and have a new lease on life. They just enjoy each other’s company. Ralph and Dori have been seeing each other for eight months now. They say they are happier because they now don’t eat alone as often. They have someone to talk to and spend time with instead of sitting home alone.
As to their first date, if you can call getting coffee at McDonald’s a first date, so be it. Plus, they took a long drive in Ralph’s Ranger. They talk about all kinds of things and have mentioned that each of their spouse’s were nothing like what they have now. I guess opposites really do attract.
There have been some challenges for them. Ralph is battling cancer, but is holding his own. In 2019 he was only given 6 months to live and so I believe God had blessed him with being a faithful servant and so his life continues on. There was a time when he just wanted to go and be with his wife. Now however this new companionship has given him a new lease on life. Dori helped by taking him and being there for him when he had to go to medical appointments. On the other hand, Dori had a recent fall and broke her pelvis. She still is struggling to recover from that, but Ralph is right there for her. He gets her to physical therapy and is right by her side walking with her and taking care of her. They are sticking by each other and caring for one another.
Ralph and Dori love spending time together just watching TV or enjoying country music. They also spend a lot of time traveling around in Ralph’s Ranger, taking country roads to explore local parks and collecting wood for the fire pit. They also enjoy having meals together and an occasional glass of wine.
The advice they would give is try something new (like bible study) or anything, just get out and about if you can. The benefit to that is you never know who you will meet and what can happen as a result. Don’t be afraid, let God be your guide.
Ralph lives in his own home and Dori lives in an apartment. Both live in Redwood Falls.
A few more comments to explain how they got together. They got out of bible study one day and Dori was kind of hinting about what a cute vehicle Ralph had (the Ranger) and how she might like a ride. Ralph gave her his phone number. She never called (shy I guess). Ralph was out and about one day, roaming around in his Ranger and he got a wild idea to give Dori a call, but she did not give him her phone number. So, smart man that he is, he looked it up in the church directory. He called but got no answer. However, turns out she called him back and that’s how it all began!
I just think they make the cutest couple and everyone in church thinks its just great.
Are they in love with each other? They don’t say for sure. They admit they cannot give each other the same thing they did with their deceased spouses. But they have a great connection together, are enjoying each other’s company and have a new-found companionship and both love that. They both have a great sense of humor and I will share one of their sayings:
“It used to be you could look but don’t touch. At our age, you can now touch, but don’t look!”