Jim Taylor carries the reputation of a harmless flirt, the kind of charmer who’ll joke that he’s too young and too good-looking to date you – even at age 81.
Around Jordan Oaks retirement community, he’s known as a live wire, the sweet-talker who boards an elevator full of women and hopes out loud that it breaks down.
But then he met Barbara Blalock, a widow of 73, and suddenly the shackles of marriage seemed as soft as silk pajamas. They courted over hamburgers at Wendy’s, watched Christmas lights twinkle and finally Blalock let Taylor visit her at home in Fuquay-Varina, so long as he left before dark.
“She was afraid I’d lose my way,” said Taylor.
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Once their wooing hit the three-month point, Taylor asked his sweetheart to put her head on the pillow next to his, where he gently proposed. Or so he’s been told. He was having gall bladder surgery at the time, and he doesn’t exactly recall.
“You can’t hold me responsible for that,” Taylor said. “I was on drugs.”
“But it was sweet,” said Blalock.
“I guess I said it,” said Taylor. “I’ll stick to it.”
“I told him my son had a shotgun,” Blalock confided.
In July, this pair of aging heartthrobs will wed in the front room at Jordan Oaks, where every retiree in the place is on the guest list.
It’s the second marriage for both bride and groom, and neither figured they’d be worrying about floral arrangements or reception hors d’oeuvres at their age. Now Blalock, who was only visiting the retirement center, will take home the beau she met there.
“I’m elated,” said the groom. “It sure hit me between the eyes.”
Blalock’s oldest daughter had to briefly don her mother’s shoes when she first heard the news.
“She said, ‘What would you tell your daughter if she wanted to marry somebody she’d known for three months?’ ” Blalock recalled.
But at 73, Blalock knew enough not to rush in, and to let Taylor chase her a bit.
They first met while she was visiting a friend at Jordan Oaks, and she overheard Taylor making his too-young-for-you wisecrack to another woman. She turned around and told him, “I’m 72, so I guess you are too young for me.”
The next time she passed him, she said, “I see you’re behaving yourself.”
Soon, he was asking her out, and when she told him no, not yet, Taylor folded his arms behind him and said, “I’ve got all the time you need.”
Taylor is the goodwill ambassador at Jordan Oaks, so everybody knows him there. All the residents told Blalock what a catch he’d be, how funny he is, and how kindhearted. As they drew closer, Taylor told her all of his medical issues so nothing would be a surprise.
And as winter turned to spring, the sun stayed out longer, which meant Taylor didn’t have to drive home so early. He never lost his way.
“Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t fall in love in your golden years,” Blalock said. “It’s just as special the second time around.”
Taylor’s flirting days are done. Now his eyes are fixed on a single star – a mature one that’s nowhere near dimming.