They say love often comes when we least expect it, which proved to be the case for Frank and Molly Valdes, two Bethesda residents who found love again in their late 40s.
Molly, born and raised in St. Louis, married her first husband at 19 after she graduated from Roosevelt High School and took a job at Southwestern Bell. They were married for 20 years and had two children before getting a divorce. After the divorce, finding a new love was the last thing on Molly’s mind. She was satisfied in her life—she had a home, a good job, and spent her time raising her children.
Frank, also born and raised in St. Louis, met his first wife shortly before joining the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in San Diego, where he served 4 years. During his time in the service, Frank and his wife had two children, but they divorced once he returned home after his service.
“Love at First Sight”
Out for an evening of dancing at the urging of her friends, Molly wasn’t looking for a relationship when Frank came into her life. “I was sitting by myself, wishing I was at home, when this handsome man approached me and asked, ‘Would you like to take a dance?’” recalls Molly. “So we went out to the dance floor, and we danced to the Jitterbug. I couldn’t stop staring into his eyes. I instantly fell in love with his blue eyes,” giggles Molly. “It was love at first sight,” glows Molly, 83, as she reminisced about the first time she met Frank, 84. “I fell in love with him the minute I saw him.”
Frank and Molly’s initial connection instantly blossomed into a courtship. The couple frequently went dancing. “The first time we kissed was magical,” recalls Molly. “One evening, after a dance – we like to dance – Frank escorted me to his car, grabbed me and took me!”
After a whirlwind romance, Frank proposed to Molly in 1980. The couple were married at Trinity United Church of Christ and moved into their first home together in South St. Louis.
They created a marriage built on friendship and love. They shared many common interests and views, which Molly says helped build their strong relationship. They would sit on the pouch and talk for hours and laugh. “We had such good times and enjoyed each other,” said Molly. “We have a love that can’t be explained.”
An Easy Transition into Retirement
During their retirement years, Frank and Molly spent most of their time traveling. They took trips to Alaska, Canada and England. They also took several railroad adventures throughout the United States. “Frank has always had a love for trains,” said Molly.
In 2013, Frank and Molly decided to sell their home and move into an Independent Retirement Living community. They chose Bethesda Terrace in Oakville and moved in August of that year. They were very active, and spent a lot of time participating in community events and socializing with other community residents. “We were always having a good time,” recalls Molly. “On a few occasions, we would dress up in our clown suits and go down to the dining room. Everyone had a good laugh.”
In late 2014, their lives were thrown off-course when Frank unexpectedly lost the use of his legs and had difficulty speaking. The decline in his health required him to move to a skilled nursing home community to get the care he needed. They chose Bethesda Southgate as it is located on the same campus as Bethesda Terrace, which made it very easy for Molly and Frank to remain close.
Staying Positive through Hardship
Frank’s illness has presented them with challenges, but their love for each other only grows stronger. “I love him. I would do anything for him and he would do anything for me,” says Molly. “I visit him every day and feed him his lunch. We spend most days sitting and holding hands.”
Deeply in love with a husband whose health is deteriorating, Molly continues to stay positive. “Some days Frank is real good, and other days not so good,” she says. “It’s terrible to get old and not be able to help yourself. I think he’s holding on and staying because of me. I tell him, ‘If you ever want to go to heaven, you go, but you better wait for me at the pearly white gates,’” says Molly with a grin, though it’s clear that her grin is hiding her true feelings.