Family Matters


Family Matters

The Last Joke: The Pathos of a May-December Marriage

By Elizabeth Young

July/August 2019


I fall in love with Dave because he’s confident, sensitive, smart—and funny. Before we get married, the expensive, humorless lawyer who makes our will urges us to have a prenup. We’re not rich, but Dave is 28 years older than I, and we live in Southern California, where the point of reference is Hollywood.

“Do you think I’m going to leave you to run off with Ben Stiller?” I turn to Dave and ask, holding his hand in the lawyer’s ice-cold office. We’ve just seen Meet the Parents.

Dave shakes his head. “Do you think I’m going to run off with his mother?” I think of the wonderful Anne Meara and groan. We grin at each other as the lawyer makes several references to the likelihood that Dave will die before me. After a while, my 65-year-old fiancé gets edgy: he’s healthy and vital.

The fourth time the lawyer says, “Assuming Mr. Fine will predecease Ms. Young,” Dave whispers to me, “You could get hit by a bus, you know.”

I chuckle. “I’ll try to remember to look both ways,” I tell him.

After we’re married, a neighbor comes over to talk with me one day as I weed the garden. “I’m a little concerned about your father,” he begins. I’m confused. My father has been dead for seven years. “Yesterday he fell when your dog yanked the leash.” He looks startled when I begin to laugh. “I thought he might’ve gotten hurt,” he explains, drawing himself up.

“Oh, no, he’s okay. I’m not laughing about his fall. He’s got spinal stenosis and he loses his…

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