Eds. note: The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol interviewed this couple last year and checked back with them to see how they are doing.
Rudy Calderon lives by the adage you’re never too old especially for love.
Even if you’re 100 years old.
Whether it’s Calderon’s good fortune to have such a long life or because of his life long practice never to sit around and let grass grow under his feet, this Valentine’s Day, he is happy to have his sweetheart Christina Reed by his side. Next month, Calderon will celebrate his 101 birthday and Reed will be 94.
While Calderon was single for more than 40 years he always enjoyed dancing, doing his own yard work and camping. But he never liked doing it alone. As he puts it, “I needed a partner for everything.”
Two years ago, the Pacoima resident and former owner of the “Shoe Clinic” on Van Nuys Blvd. found his sweetheart at the Alicia Broadus Duncan Multipurpose Senior Center in Pacoima where he’d been going for the past 20 years. nReed, single for a decade, had been going to the senior center for about eight years.
While they had seen each other there while both were volunteering and enjoying the center’s activities, they never exchanged more than a few passing words.
But on March 18, 2015, as Calderon celebrated his birthday, someone at the center suggested he approach Reed and ask her when her birthday was.
“He asked me and I told him it was March 18. He said, ‘that’s my birthday.’ He got up, he hugged me and kissed me and that was it,” Reed recalls.
Calderon promptly asked her out and they went for ice cream.
“She’s a cheap date. No alcohol or anything,” Calderon said with a chuckle, adding Reed is allergic to alcohol.
“Yes we went for ice cream,” Reed confirmed, and, “we kept on eating ice cream,” Calderon chimed in.
“Both were good, the ice cream and her,” Calderon said with a smile.
A Strong Presence
For Reed, the attraction was the respect that Calderon commands.
“Even when he’s sitting there, he seems like he demands respect. That’s what brought me to him,” she said.
Calderon, however, breaks the seriousness of her description of him with more jokes that only a man of his age is likely to get away with. “I liked the way she walked. I said, ‘I have to get me that,’” he laughed.
After several months of dating, they moved into Calderon’s home and the couple is still going strong.
“We’re partners,” Calderon said.
Reed says they spend all day together, working at home in the yard or simply talking and enjoying each other’s company. “We have coffee in the same cup and we eat from the same dish,” she notes.
Contrary to what many believe, love is not limited by age, they contend.
“It’s like when you meet somebody for the first time (when you’re young). It’s the same emotionally, although physically it’s not,” he said. “You feel the same butterflies (in the stomach).”
“My butterflies few away,” Calderon adds with a joke.
If there’s “puppy love,” Calderon says, theirs is “old puppy love.”
“If you meet the right person, if you start talking together, that’s it,” Reed says of finding the “right one” even when you’re in your nineties and beyond.
They admit the romance came as a surprise, but it’s something that has given them another reason to get up in the morning.
“Everything’s better in twos than one by one,” said Calderon, who remains very active. He drives everywhere in his own car (his driver’s license is still good for another year), has fine eyesight and hearing and walks without a cane or any help. He remains much sharper than people 20 or 30 years his junior.
“It’s nice to have somebody to talk to. It’s nicer to have a warm body next to you than a cold pillow.”
“It’s nice to share everything together,” Reed said. “We’re very happy.”
This weekend the happy couple is gearing for the Valentine’s Day dance at San Fernando’s Las Palmas Park.
Just another occasion to keep their flame of love going.