84 Year Old Grandmother's Courtship and Marriage to Older Man

She was 16 years old when she fell in love with a friend of the family who was 34 years old.  The woman being interviewed didn't want her real name being shared, so her name will be April. 

Back in the 1930s, the young April was a mere teen who had a life ahead of her, but she got distracted with the tall, dark and handsome fellow who admired her from a distance.  She explains that he caught her eye, not only because he was so nice-looking, but also because "I wanted to leave my father's house...I was uneducated."  She had attended elementary school on and off until about the age of 13 before her mother died.  Her father, who had suddenly become a widow, went wild with the young ladies, according to April's relatives.  So April and her siblings saw a poor example of how an older man treated young women.  Relatives say he would drink, party, and have sex with them sometimes having a few at a time.  They were children watching him abuse these women and some were women of the night.

But the handsome gentleman, who had been in April's family for years, had claimed that when she was a baby, the girl would one day become his wife.  "I was still in my diapers my older relatives said when he told them that," said the 84 year old grandmother.  April was impressed with the muscular man.  "He could read and write."  This was important to women of the time, because they knew that an educated man could get a better job than most and be able to provide for his family.  April's older man was a blessing to a girl with a big heart.  She grew up in a household of 20 and the older gentleman was going to get her out of there.

April warns young women, who share their trials with her, to be careful when it comes to dating men especially older ones.  She says, "Don't trust a smiling face.  There are dangerous men in this world."  The mother of six learned the hard way.  After leaving her father's house and going to be with the family friend, the mature gentleman would marry her and then move her out of state. 

April was required to work during her marriage, because despite her husband's education, he had a strike against him--he was a black man trying to work during a time when racial dissension was present between blacks and whites.  He also was one who liked to drink and party just like April's father.  There was an obvious pattern, not only with April, but her siblings as well, most dated older men and many were cheated on.  They basically got their father all over again through the men they dated and eventually married--his good, bad, rich and poor qualities all wrapped up in one! 

April, being an uneducated black woman raising a family from the 1940s to the early 1960s, had her share of challenges as well; therefore, her options for employment were few.  Housecleaning and cooking was what she did for very low wages.  "I didn't have the opportunities back then, that young women have nowadays," April says.  There was no daycare, Internet, an abundance of programs to help the needy, and many households didn't have televisions.  April grew up poor, married into poverty, and then later acquired her personal wealth after her children became adults.

"This is why I tell young people to get an education, so that they don't have to settle for less,"  April advises.  She tells women to put off marriage and having children until you have accomplished personal goals.  There were times in her life she admits, she cried because of the poor decisions she made in life.

The man who had swept her off her feet and had given her so much happiness and promises, eventually caused her much upset to the point that she couldn't focus on anything she truly wanted to do.  "He was abusive--a bastard!  But my stupid self, loved him!"  She pauses and then adds, "I asked myself, why do I love this man?"  Long after her husband's passing, April admits that she still loves him.  For years, April said that she attended church while choosing to remain in the abusive relationship for the sake of her children.  She says that it was her faith in God that got her through many turbulent times.

But love doesn't verbally abuse or physically fight and two of April's own children wanted their father gone from the house, one even threatened to shoot his dad for beating up his mother.  April was well aware that love doesn't hurt, but she was also fearful about leaving.  There were times when she and her children did stay with relatives until her husband cooled down.

Nowadays, the 84 year old grandmother listens to young women's relationship plights and prays for them who labor to love their abusive mates while advising they get away.  April blames her lack on why she settled.  After decades of being cheated on, that handsome man who attracted many women both young and old met his fate.  April shares that her abuser was burned to death in a house fire.  "He moved out of our family home and got his own place in an apartment building where he lived for a time," April solemnly explains.  "My husband called me the night before and asked if we could get back together.  I told him I would have to pray about it.  The next day I heard that he had died in a fire."  April admits her faith was shook and cautions don't pray if you don't want an answer.

After the death of her husband back in the 70s, April says that "I could never love another man."  When asked why, she said, "I was afraid that if I got close to one, I might kill him if he treated me the way my husband had."  There were nice men that she courted (dated); however, she could recognize the signs that she couldn't be with them.  Some of those red flags were:

1.  Attempts to tell her how to parent her children while barely getting to know her.

2.  Visiting only when convenient because an individual was married.

3.  Lying about one's true intentions such as saying he wanted friendship when he really wanted sex.

4.  Using threats and pressure to get her to commit.

5.  Buying her gifts and bringing money to secure a place in her life even when she was no longer romantically interested in her gentleman suitor.

April shares that when a man makes you feel like less than a woman such as often acting rudely, jealous, or bitter, stop dating him.  When you feel like you have to report your every move to him, don't.  If the older man doesn't appreciate what you are doing for him, stop giving him sex, visiting him, or whatever else you are doing.  April adds, "Don't be a fool!"

Nicholl McGuire is the author of the following books:

Know Your Enemy: The Christian's Critic
When Mothers Cry
Laboring to Love Myself
Laboring to Love an Abusive Mate
Floral Beauty on a Dead End Street
Spiritual Poems By Nicholl

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