Charles joins new practice in Louisville, Kentucky. Paula returns to work: "This was a great period—I was able to have a bigger chunk of being me." Charles works less, discovers something new: free time.
Trip to Europe. Charles falls ill in Rome, gets kidney stone in Venice. Both slammed with awful flu in Paris. Charles: "I'm telling you, we're jinxed!"
David studies law. Michael studies nursing.
Charles expands horizons, enters law school. Couple considers next step, visits Key West. Smitten. Paula: "Key West had everything—music, theater, lectures, great library, great people." They promptly buy a condo and eventually move there.
David marries. Two years later, Michael will, too.
First two grandchildren born. One more will follow.
Paula works at domestic abuse shelter; Charles fishes, takes up guitar. They read, volunteer. Famous dinner parties now include whole new group of friends.
Paula diagnosed with aortic aneurysm. Life saved by major surgery, but ongoing monitoring required. Dr. Charles brings home flowers often. Couple moves to Bonita Springs, Florida. House has pool—and space for visiting grandkids.
The sweet life: cooking for friends ("We have lobster dinners, no occasion necessary"); mini-spats while driving ("You can't turn on the radio, she forbids it!"); not traveling (Charles: "My New Year's resolution? Never leave home again"). Couple perfectly, wonderfully happy together—spats, Steelers, and all. Paula: "We've laughed, wept, been puzzled, angry, dumbfounded, amazed—and most of all, we've been grateful to whatever gave us the chutzpah, courage, or stupidity to love and marry, to have children, to face life's challenges and remain bonded together." Best of all: "Forty-five years later, I still like being with him. He is the best of me."
Editor's Note: Paula Graff passed away in late 2010.