Never Too Late for LOVE

by Tamara Eberlein - June 2000 Woman's Day Magazine

They thought love would never find them again. Were they in for a surprise!

For some of us, connecting with a true soul mate can require a decades-long search. For others, there’s a sudden, grand surprise in learning that love is more than a once-in-a-lifetime blessing. Share the joy and inspiration in these stories of couples who found wedded bliss when, where or with whom they’d least expected.

An Old Flame Rekindled


Fifth grader Curtis Kelly was skip- ping rope outside the two-room schoolhouse in Goodison, Michigan, when she noticed the new seventh grader, Bernie Gudobba. Cute! Heart fluttering, the farmer’s daughter prayed, "Let him like me."

It happened. They shared movie dates, box lunches, even a first kiss in the schoolhouse cloakroom. But two years later, Bernie left for high school, then moved to Detroit. When he visited Goodison, the cool Casanova astride a motorcycle barely seemed to remember Curtis. She was crushed. 

After finishing high school in 1958, Curtis went to college, leapt up the publishing ladder in New York City and later won acclaim as a painter in Palm Beach, Florida. But she never married. "I got engaged several times, but always broke it off," she explains. "Call me a hopeless romantic, but none of those men was my soul mate."

When she visited Michigan, she occasionally heard news of Bernie from his mother. An adventurer, he loved scuba diving, even skydiving. So Curtis was amazed when, at age 30, he settled down with a local girl. "He’s the marrying type after all!" she thought. "I should’ve looked him up sooner." Over the next two decades, she received sporadic updates: Bernie’s promotion to senior automotive engineer, his four kids, his happy marriage.

Fast-forward to October 1993. Curtis, 51 and living in Palm Beach, was engaged again. But when her mother became terminally ill, Curtis returned to Michigan to care for her. Bernie’s mom visited. "My daughter-in-law died three years ago," she said. "Bernie’s been devastated. Why don’t you call him?"

Curtis called, and the two agreed on dinner. "Look for a bald guy with a paunch," Bernie warned. But he had the same thick hair, muscled physique and sexy smile she remembered from 35 years ago. They had a lovely evening and went out often in the following weeks. Recalls Bernie, "Curtis told me she was engaged and kept things platonic - a peck on the cheek, an early good-night."

When her mother passed away that December, Curtis returned to Florida. Bernie missed her more than he expected. "My marriage was so great, I figured I’d never be that lucky in love again."

His phone conversations with Curtis grew increasingly intimate. By the fall, he realized that if he didn’t take action, he’d lose her. So he invited Curtis to Michigan for a party. In a corner he pulled her close. "It’s a mistake to marry that other man," he declared, his voice husky. "We have something special. Don’t throw it away."

Then he kissed her - no peck on the cheek, no puppy-love smooch, but a passionate lip-lock that left Curtis aquiver. Instantly, she knew: Here was her soul mate. It was that simple. Except it wasn’t simple at all - not at first - to break her engagement, leave Florida, convince herself wasn’t just a fairy tale. "It took ‘ to extricate myself. Finally, spring, I told Bernie, ‘Come get me

They’ve been together ever since. On June 22, 1998, Curtis Kelly — a first-time bride at age 56 — walked down the aisle of her home town church and into the arms of childhood sweetheart.


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