This is a Short Story about a Long Love
March, 2006 - Issue #17
Monny and Dolly Schwimmer
Monny and Dolly Schwimmer
It doesn't matter why you meet people, as long as you learn something from them.

When I first encountered Dolly and Monny Schwimmer, I was 17. When I met them, they had already celebrated 50 years together.

But that's no great accomplishment in itself. What struck me then, and now, 10 years later, was that had I not known better, I would have guessed them newlyweds. Old newlyweds, yes, but newlyweds none the less.

He called her Honey. She always made sure she was close enough to hold his hand. They played a lot bridge together, and golf. And whenever a guest graced their home, they made a delicious Chinese Chicken Salad - him readying the ingredients, she prepping the table.

Dolly was a dancer, and a good one. The joke was that Dolly was too short to be a Rockette, but even in her late 70s, her shapely legs would have inspired envy of the tallest supermodel. At their granddaughter Wendy's wedding, the two hit the dance floor together. It didn't matter that Monny had lost a lung to cancer, or that she was pushing 80 - their feet moved in unison and their eyes sparkled. They danced as one, their steps as sure as their love for each other.

But life wasn't always easy for the pair. He spent years overseas during World War II, leaving Dolly alone to worry and wait. They lost a child, but God was kind and later graced them with a daughter, Jill. They fought like any couple would, but unlike many, through thick and thin, they worked to keep their love strong.

Wedding Day!
Wedding Day!
Maybe it's because they were drawn together from the beginning. The pair met at a local hangout, and even though each was dating someone else, that quickly changed. After a short engagement, the two were married; all told, they spent 63 years together as man and wife.

With age comes an increased recognition of one's mortality. I don't dare to hypothesize what the pair was thinking when Dolly was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, but my guess is that like everything else the two did in life, they worked it out together.

Dolly died last November. This is not an obituary, but if it was, it would say that she left behind a loving husband, daughter, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. But what an obituary wouldn't tell you is that she also left behind a legacy: one of unconditional love and affection, unwavering loyalty to family, and a keen addiction to outlet shopping. She also left behind many trophies. Like I said, they played a lot of golf and bridge.

As I write this, I stare at the short list of typed notes Monny left for me - a compilation of Dolly's defining moments. What's most telling, though, is not her many accomplishments. Instead, it is the last line written in 83-year-old-man scrawl: "ILY," their private short-hand for "I love you."

You've just met Monny and Dolly Schwimmer. What did you learn today?
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