Dancing Through Life

Posted by Louise Tucker Jones on 02/01/2014

Eleven years ago, Gaylen and Nelson Ford met at a “senior dance” and have been dancing through life ever since. They were 57 and 61 years old, respectively, and neither was seeking a relationship, both having been through painful divorces and Nelson had also been widowed. “I didn’t trust myself to find the right man for me,” said Gaylen.   

“I told God, if I was to have another partner in life, I wanted a godly, faithful, trustworthy, one-woman man.”

At the same time, in another town, Nelson was telling God much the same about finding a new mate in his later years. Who would have guessed that God would answer their prayers at a dance in Checotah, Oklahoma, halfway between their homes?

The fateful event happened at a Waterfall Dance­—where men lined up on one side of the room and ladies on the other. The woman scooted across the floor and met her mystery partner, then the gentleman danced her back to the other side. It was Nelson and Gaylen’s first meeting. Who could imagine that two months later they would become lifelong partners?

Gaylen and NelsonAt first, the two simply met at dances and for coffee or tea. Both were cautious with this new relationship. Then one night, a woman sat next to Nelson without invitation. Nelson immediately took Gaylen onto the dance floor and said, “I’m not here with anyone. I want you to know you have absolutely nothing to worry about.” He walked her to her car and kissed her goodnight for the first time. Gaylen got into her vehicle and announced to her friend, “I’m going to marry that man!”

What she didn’t know was that Nelson had a similar experience. He had been watching an old rerun of “Mel’s Diner” on TV when the waitress, Flo said, “If you see something you want, you need to jump in with both feet.” Nelson leaned forward and spoke to the TV. “I’m jumping!”

Soon, Nelson drove to Henryetta to visit Gaylen. Next, she drove to Enterprise to attend church with Nelson. On Thanksgiving, they decided to share the holiday with each other’s families in order to meet their grown children—Nelson’s two sons and Gaylen’s two sons and daughter, along with spouses and grandchildren.

In December, while trying to plan a Christmas get-together, for both families, the couple decided to make their relationship permanent and told their speechless children they were getting married. On December 22, 2002, the couple was married at a small church that Nelson helped build in Keota, Oklahoma, blessed by the presence of several family members and a few close friends.

Both Nelson and Gaylen, who now make their home in Stigler, say it has been an interesting journey. “Our golden years have sometimes turned into tin foil,” said Gaylen, speaking of some health challenges. She has had two knee replacements and Nelson has survived three strokes as well as triple bypass surgery. “But taking care of each other has just made our marriage stronger.”

People are often shocked to find the couple has been married only eleven years, thinking they are lifelong mates. “I just tell them we’re old newlyweds,” said Gaylen.

Just goes to show that it is never too late to find true love or your soul mate as the couple refers to each other. They’re always planning new adventures, taking it day by day.

“It’s all in God’s hands,” Gaylen added.

After all, that’s how their love story began. 

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