Englewood, Florida - Connie Friess and Jim Wasowski can’t keep from smiling whenever they say the word "newlyweds."
That’s because, in their sixth and seventh decade of life, they are newlyweds finding joy in each day they are together.
"No matter how we spend it, every single day is so special ... even more so because of what we each went through before we met," Connie says.
Jim and Connie had both endured the loss of a beloved longtime spouse. Both discovered how losing a spouse impacts life in ways both big and small.
After 46 years of marriage, Jim’s wife Libby passed away in 2015, leaving a void in his life he found impossible to fill.
"After your spouse dies and your family leaves, you discover the meaning of 'alone.’ No one can understand that loneliness unless they’ve been through it.
"The first four months were absolute hell," he says. "In our weekly conference call, my sons had to keep talking me off the ledge."
When he tried going alone to "Hair," his favorite show, he got dressed to go but couldn’t go through with it. The same thing happened with his Paul Anka tickets.
"It’s a couple’s world out there. At the shows everyone is all coupled up."
What he learned through all that, he says, is how much he needs another person in his life.
Meanwhile Connie was struggling to adjust to the loss of her husband Joe by staying active and going on one cruise after another.
"But you can’t stay on a cruise ship forever and when you come home the loneliness hits you. I’m a well-grounded person and I faced the fact that I wanted to have someone in my life," she says.
Both Connie and Jim decided to find someone through Match.com.
"I had three requirements. I didn’t want someone shorter than I am, didn’t want a smoker and didn’t want someone who was divorced," Connie says.
Connie says she knew she was talking a chance with online dating because her sister had gotten burned when she met someone online.
But after talking online with Jim, she had a good feeling about him.
Jim had dates with two other women he met on Match but says "there was no chemistry."
When he met Connie for their first date, he says he knew right away he had met his perfect match.
"It was obvious in the first five minutes. What I loved right off the bat was her obvious spunk and her sense of adventure. We’re both outgoing, both active and we have so much in common," he says.
"I was smitten!"
It was a mutual attraction that grew stronger with each date.
Their only surprise was that they didn’t meet sooner because they visited the same places, both in Ohio and in the Englewood area.
They each started their days exercising at the Englewood YMCA yet had never met.
Known as Mr. Trivia Pursuit, Jim holds trivia nights several times a week in the Englewood area. Connie definitely loves trivia nights but they never met there either.
The Rotonda West residents were married in May, seven months after they met. The groom was 69; his bride was 66.
"When someone asked why we didn’t want to wait a while, I said at our age we didn’t want to waste more of our lives," Jim declares.
The newlyweds both proclaim they are ecstatically happy because they found the perfect partner.
"We wouldn’t have considered this if our first marriages weren’t so amazing," Connie concludes.
They have blended their lives effortlessly, continuing an active lifestyle filled with the adventures they both enjoy.
When Frank Sinatra croons, "The Second Time Around," they can relate to the words:
"There are those who bet
Love comes but once and yet,
I’m oh so glad we met
The second time around."
Pattie Mihalik is a regular columnist for the Sun. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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