A friend of mine married a much younger man last year. They celebrated their 1-year anniversary recently so I think it might stick. She is 101. He is 89.
“At my age,” Opal Clark Moss told me, “they’re all younger men.”
There weren’t many people at the wedding because most of their friends and many of their family members are now gone. I thought it was too special to let it slip by unnoticed so I talked Opal and Paul into recreating a wedding photo shoot for the back cover of This Land Press. The heat hovered around 95 degrees that day, but they didn’t complain.
“I like the heat,” Opal said. “Makes you feel alive.”
Opal’s great-grandson was visiting from California and came to watch as we stood on the balcony of a former orphanage building where Opal once learned how to sew. She is one day older than our home town of Sand Springs, Okla., and grew up at the Sand Springs Children’s Home. At age 76, she wrote a book about Charles Page, a man who promised his mother that he would take care of widows and children. He followed through on the promise by building a town that supported an orphanage and widow’s colony. Opal still calls him “Daddy Page.”
As she gazed across the green lawn to watch her grandson in his new Oklahoma souvenir headdress, she reminisced about drinking water from the spring and catching lightning bugs and all the holiday parties of long ago.
Opal and Paul met at a grieving seminar hosted by a funeral home. They shared a few dances and hours of conversation. Her husband had died in 1988. His wife died just a few years ago. When they started spending time together, he was seeing someone else. And she had a male friend – not a boyfriend, she insists – but a friend who was in poor health and even worse spirits.
One day, Paul sat next to Opal on a lobby bench and offered up the kind of pickup line that makes any author swoon.
“I hear you wrote a book,” he said. “I’d like to read it.”
“You know after Paul read my book and started asking me about Mr. Page, he’d want to come up to my 10th floor apartment because he said he liked the view,” she says, and I know that if we weren’t on the telephone she’d be winking. “But, he was seeing another woman back then so I told him that I didn’t think it was such a good idea.”
Things settled into a friendship pace until “he finally had a falling out with the other woman.” Next thing Opal knew, a marriage proposal was on her doorstep in the 10th floor apartment – the one with the good view.
“He surprised me one day and said he’d like to get married. Oh, I forget, first he wanted to go to Eureka Springs, and I told him that I’d lived all this time doing things right, and I didn’t want to do things wrong about the time I was knocking at heaven’s gate,” she says.
She refused to spend the night with a man without a ring. So he asked her to marry him.
“I told him it was ludicrous, just ludicrous, to marry someone who’s just shy of 100, and you know what he told me?”
I don’t know, but I can’t wait to hear.
“He said, ‘A short time of happiness is worth more than a lifetime of browbeating and making yourself miserable.’”
Those were marrying words for Opal. She said “I Do.” So did he. They came back from Eureka Springs and celebrated with a reception with friends and family and a blessing by the church. Then, they packed their bags again and went on a honeymoon – two trips to Branson and several weeks in California.
Last year at the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum built by Lucille Page in honor of her husband’s quest to build a town for widows and children, Opal Clark Moss introduced the new love of her life to the century-old love of her life. When the newlyweds kissed, a member of their family leaned over and said, “They’re going out with a bang.”
And Opal Clark Moss giggled.
To see Opal’s back cover photo in This Land Press, check out: http://thislandpress.com/08/16/2013/opal-clark-moss/