These humorous and poignant love stories help older people meet the challenge of loneliness and social isolation that comes with the death of a partner.
An exhibition explores what love has meant to 14 older Londoners. Told in photograph and video, LoveLived shares the excitement, rejection, commitment and heartbreak which are part of loving someone and being loved.
The range of stories show how unique an experience love is to each of us. Harry, 91 met his wife at the age of 16 and says that during his marriage “Every day was a happy day”. He shares that his daughter would sometimes catch them dancing or holding hands. It wasn’t until that he lost his wife that “my happiness died. I have never really been happy again.”
“Life is not a bed of roses, but we had more roses than thorns” - Chitra, 74.
Chitra, 74 was slower to fall in love. Wary of the arranged marriage which was expected of her, she chose instead to pursue a professional career. But, when she did meet her in husband to be Ron, she could not resist the pull of love. Still she points out that the idea of Mr or Mrs Right is a fallacy “I used to believe that there is only one person for you but years have taught me differently, now I tell people younger than me that life is like a bowl of cherries, you try one, you don’t like it, you spit it out and try another one!”
The path of love didn’t always run true for everyone.
Ninety year old Sidney walked out on his marriage after ten years. But, he did return and states now that “I think myself lucky that I stayed with her for 62 years.” All the same he advises young people that “don’t get married, don’t worry about a piece of paper, go and see places. Have children, bring them up and then decide about getting married.”
Despite the difference in the experiences of love there are recurring themes. For those that are in a relationship, one important lesson is that life is short, and so it is important to cherish that love and respect the person you are with.
Ernie, 81 who has been married to his wife for 56 years advises young men looking to embark on a committed relationship that ““Give that person respect, if you do not have that respect for someone you don’t have the basis of love”
LoveLived is the result of a collaboration between video production Bold Content Video and photographer Holly Wren. All of the participants in the project were referred by national charity Contact the Elderly which seek to end social isolation amongst older people through regular face to face contact.
Adam Neale, managing director of Bold Content Video, says that he was inspired to film the LoveLived subjects because he was “intrigued by the possibility of listening to elderly people tell me some of their best stories from a lifetime of experiences ... these people have lived long and rich lives and their wisdom was invaluable. It certainly changed my perspective on the whole subject of love and I believe that anyone viewing the videos will gain the same appreciation for what it means to have lived and loved.”
These humorous and poignant love stories remind older people of the challenge of loneliness and social isolation that comes with retirement and the death of a partner.