When His Air-Conditioner Broke Down, Things Heated Up

In July 2019, after a committee meeting of their homeowners association, Dorine Ruth Seidman, 77, asked Harvey David Starin, 76, if he wanted to grab dinner at Papa Giuseppe’s, an Italian restaurant in Delray Beach, Fla., where both lived. Her invitation was made in a neighborly way, without a hint of romance.

“I think she felt sorry for me,” said Mr. Starin, whose wife of 43 years, Dottie Starin, had died two months earlier.

He and his wife had moved to their boating community in 2000 from Chester, N.J., while Ms Seidman and her husband, Bob Goldsteen, moved there later that same year from Silver Spring, Md. After a 24-year marriage, her husband died in 2007. So she could identify with Mr. Starin’s grief.

Mr. Starin and Mr. Goldsteen both loved fishing, and even went trolling together for mahi-mahi and bottom fishing for grouper and snapper.

Soon Ms. Seidman and Mr. Starin thought nothing of grabbing a bite after a meeting, and a couple of months later they even caught a movie or two.

Mr. Starin, then president of the association, always thought of Ms. Seidman, a former association president, as “stern and scary,” the perfect negotiator. (She is about 5 feet 2; he, 6 feet.)

Ms. Seidman retired as a corporate counsel from the Paris-based hospitality company Sodexo, originally part of the Marriott Corporation, for which she previously worked. She then did legal consulting based in Delray Beach. Ms. Seidman, who grew up in West Hartford, Conn., graduated from Simmons College (now Simmons University) in Boston. She received a master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University and later a law degree from Georgetown.

Mr. Starin retired as a general manager of new business development in Holmdel, N.J., from Lucent Technologies/Bell Labs, the former telecommunications company. He then became a licensed real estate broker covering Southern Palm Beach County for Realty Home Advisors in Boca Raton. He graduated with high honors from the University of Florida in Gainesville, from which he also received an M.B.A.

That fall, before the Jewish High Holy Days, Ms. Seidman offered to get him a ticket, and did, next to her and her friend in a synagogue in Boca Raton. He then joined them for a break fast after Yom Kippur at another friend’s place.

“Are you shacking up?” she recalled a guest asking, to which Mr. Starin joked, “Not yet.”

“I hadn’t dated in over 40 years,” he said. “I lost my moves, but it worked out.”

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In October, they had their first kiss as he left her house one evening. When his air-conditioner broke down later that month, she invited him to stay over. Things soon heated up.

“I was conscious he was a recent widower,” she said. “I did not want to rush things. He needed to heal and grieve in his own time. I didn’t want to intrude on that.”

It was not a smooth transition for Mr. Starin. “My wife’s death was relatively new,” he said. “I had professional help. It was nice when I realized there was somebody who liked me and I liked very much and I could move on together.”

In November 2019, they took a trip to the Florida Keys in his old red BMW convertible, and they picnicked on his fishing boat in Lake Boca in Boca Raton.

By February 2020, they spent so much time together, that Mr. Starin brought up living together. They soon looked at golf communities, and joined a golf club at one in Boca Raton as outside members.

During the pandemic lockdown, they took long walks and drives to Palm Beach in his new, more roomy blue BMW convertible.

“He whipped up caponata, ratatouille, stuffed peppers,” she said, from boxes of peppers, tomatoes and eggplants being sold by local farms.

During Memorial Day weekend 2021, with Mr. Starin’s expertise as a broker, they closed on a house at the Boca Raton golf community, and had sold Ms. Seidman’s house within a week. His house sold at the end of last year.

“We were a new couple,” he said. “We wanted to start fresh, in a nice way. We upsized.”

They kept tarps over her furniture during a gut renovation, and then moved into their new place on Halloween.

“Marriage was not on the table,” Ms. Seidman said.

At least not until the next summer.

In July 2022, he asked: “Would you ever consider being married?” They dropped the subject until she brought it up a month later.

“Maybe that’s not such a bad idea,” she said.

He proposed a few weeks later at their house. “I’m going to get down on one knee,” he said. “But I’m not sure I can get up.”

On Jan. 14, Rabbi Richard Polirer officiated before 30 guests on the pool deck of their new house in Boca Raton, under a huppah that Mr. Starin built using garden trellises painted white and a white tulle cover.

“I feel like we have the world in front of us,” she said, “to travel, play golf and enjoy the years we have left.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com