The Story of Anna and the Innkeeper
Two impetuous people go for broke...
Perhaps it is time that the story be told. Because it is sort of romantic. We'll both tell it. Anna in italics.
I had been living in George on the Garden Route in South Africa for 7 years when I divorced my husband. My marriage of 32 years was not moonlight and roses all the time, but was not so bad either. After the divorce I was very lonely. I had a great job running catering at the George Golf Club and met a lot of people, but was on my own for the first time. So I started dating. Scary business, dating again after 30 years. The problem was, of course, that all the good ones had been taken. One evening, feeling very sorry for myself, I joined a date club on the internet. I completed a profile and paid my first subscription. It was all a bit disappointing. I wrote to a few guys - boring men and/or ones with lots of baggage. Eventually,on a Sunday morning on 10th June 2007, I decided to cancel my subscription, which was up for renewal.
My wife died in 2007 after a long illness. A month or so later I realised how alone I was between being an Innkeeper and her illness. On an idle Sunday morning, 10th June 2007, I joined an internet dating club. This required recording a host of personal details, likes and dislikes. One of which was that I smoked a pipe. When the registering process was complete, the system popped up a message that it had found a 100% match for me. Intrigued, I looked at her profile and found that she lived in the same town. Not one to hang around, I wrote her a letter via the dating club. After fudging my profile to remove the pipe smoking thing. Because she had set non-smoking as a prerequisite.
I logged in. A message popped up, telling me that it had a 100% match for me. I read his profile. Next thing the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Somehow I just knew that this is what I had been looking for, for most of my life. After feeding some hungry golfers, I got back to the pc. This time there was a short letter from him. I replied and we exchanged a few letters.
That evening, I took her to dinner.
It was a very brief date. He bought me dinner and fled back to Mes Amis.
It was the first time I had been out of an evening for more than a year and I needed to digest what was happening here. We made a date for the coming Friday, when I would cook for her. Later that evening, I smoked my last pipe.
The next morning, I got a text message, saying “It is a long time until friday....” I replied “My feeling also”. He 'phoned and we moved the date up to the next evening. I arrived at Mes Amis, to find him leaning against the doorpost in his now familiar position. He looked so handsome and dashing....
I paced up and down, waiting for her to arrive. As she drove in, I struck a pose that I thought looked dashing. She got out and I caught my breath. This woman was beautiful. My knees felt weak....
He cooked dinner for me and we talked the evening away. There was a tangible connection between us. He held my hand and we kissed.
There were almost 60 years of Anna that I knew nothing about. Oh, how we talked. And kissed. And talked. In addition to the weak knees I now also had sweaty palms. On Wednesdays I gave cooking lessons and invited her to the lesson the next day.
I left around 11 – work the next day, at least for me – after promising to return the next day to attend the cooking class. When I arrived at Mes Amis on Wednesday, the class of 8 people were gathered around the dining room table. He told them that the last class sequed into a social affair. Tonight he wanted them to leave directly after the class, because wanted to spend time with me. They looked at me. Talk about your most embarrassing moment....After the class, they tucked their handbags under their arms (yes, they were all women), and left.
The pupils left and we talked. And talked.
We talked. And kissed. Then he asked me “What are you doing Thursday evening”. I had a function to cater at the Club. “And Friday?” Another function. “Saturday?” Same answer. “Sunday?” I was free on the Sunday. “How about moving in with me on Sunday then?” It took me only a few moments, and then I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to do. I could not sleep that night, I was happy, scared - a mixture of emotions. Next morning I wanted to shout out to the whole world, I have found him!! The man that I had been waiting for my whole life. I have found him!!! Between organising functions and work, I packed one or two suitcases and a few personal things. In the meantime lots and lots of text messages between us also kept me busy.
Waiting for Sunday and Anna was not easy. I had never done something so impulsive in my life. At least not something this important. You just do not take decisions of this magnitude on an impulse. But I did. I was in love, totally besotted and incapable of rational thought. We were both 60 years old - a sure proof you can fall in love at 60 as easily as at 16. I knew with a certainty that brooked no argument that I wanted this woman at my side for the rest of my life. I sent her text messages. I told my family. I told the dogs. I hunted for more people with whom to share this extraordinary feeling. I was also scared that she would change her mind.
At 5 o'clock the Sunday morning, the ringing of my phone woke me up. The Innkeeper wanted to know when I was coming. So, I fed the dogs, locked up my house and at about seven o'clock joined him at Mes Amis. He was leaning against the doorpost. Looking dashing. We had tea and coffee on the patio, watching the sea.
A school of dolphins played in the waves and the first whale of the season lifted his tail in salute. I was content. Anna shortly after arriving that Sunday. I still had to meet Anna's kids. Two married boys. 4 Grandchildren. She had arranged for them to come to breakfast that Sunday to meet me. Hah! “Hi, my name is Gerhard. I am the guy your mom moved in with this morning”. A daunting prospect.
My children arrived for breakfast to meet the Innkeeper. Awkward.Very awkward. If one of my children had done what I had done, I would have killed him. Breakfast was understandably quite stiff and they did not stay long.
The breakfast that Sunday morning (note how nonchalant the Innkeeper is): Anna and the Innkeeper were married a year later. Anna gave up her catering business and joined me innkeeping at Mes Amis. My kids love Anna. And mine him. We are happy. Very happy. And in love and contented and everything that a married couple should be. We still talk a lot. And I have not smoked since that Sunday. Following your heart sometimes pays off. Big time.