Former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania has penned an essay for the New York Times as he prepares to marry his partner of 15 years, Matthew Charlton.
Married for 48 years to his wife (who passed away from cancer), Wofford was surprised to find love a second time with Charlton, who is 50 years younger. The two met in Florida 15 years ago and have been together ever since.
The essay is truly a must-read. Wofford writes with clarity of the deep, rich bond he shared with his wife, as well as the joy of his upcoming nuptials.
From Wofford’s column:
It was afternoon, and the tanning beachgoers faced west, toward the wall of concrete buildings lining the boulevard, to catch the sun, ignoring the beautiful sea. I swam alone in the water, attracting the attention of two bystanders near the shore. They came over to say hello, which is how I met Matthew Charlton.
As we talked, I was struck by Matthew’s inquisitive and thoughtful manner and his charm. I knew he was somebody I would enjoy getting to know. We were decades apart in age with far different professional interests, yet we clicked.
I admired Matthew’s adventurous 25-year-old spirit. When he told me that I was “young at heart,” I liked the idea, until I saw a picture of him on a snowboard upside down executing a daring back flip. The Jackson Hole newspaper carried the caption, “Charlton landed the jump without mishap.”
We took trips around the country and later to Europe together, becoming great friends. We both felt the immediate spark, and as time went on, we realized that our bond had grown into love. Other than with Clare, I had never felt love blossom this way before.
It was three years before I got the nerve to tell my sons and daughter about Matthew. I brought a scrapbook of photographs, showing Matthew and me on our travels, to a large family wedding. It was not the direct discussion the subject deserved. Yet over time my children have welcomed Matthew as a member of the family, while Matthew’s parents have accepted me warmly.
Twice in my life, I’ve felt the pull of such passionate preference. At age 90, I am lucky to be in an era where the Supreme Court has strengthened what President Obama calls “the dignity of marriage” by recognizing that matrimony is not based on anyone’s sexual nature, choices or dreams. It is based on love.