Love & Family

40-year age gap love: I was his carer, now I’m his partner!

Donna hadn't planned on falling for her client

As told to Candice Fernandez
HotSpot Media

Donna Brickell, 40, fell in love with her patient despite their 40-year age gap

As I waited for the mash and carrots to heat, I caught a glance of myself in the microwave’s reflection. Then I quickly adjusted the buttons on my navy blue tunic and fixed my hair.

I wanted to look good for my new patient.

After the microwave pinged, I balanced the food on a tray and took it into the bedroom where Eric was. He’s such a silver fox, I thought.

Eric had grey hair, wrinkles and gorgeous blue eyes.

Here you go, darling,’ I said, as butterflies danced in my tummy. I didn’t know why I felt so nervous!

After he finished eating, I helped Eric into his wheelchair.

At 38, being a carer for the elderly had always been my life-long dream.

For the past year, I’d been doing house visits at pensioners’ homes, and this was the first time I’d met Eric.

Eric and I clicked right away (Credit: Hotspot Media)

Chatting away, I realised we shared a love of musicals and had an identical sense of humour.

‘I’ve not laughed this hard in years,’ I giggled, wiping away tears.

‘Me neither,’ Eric said. ‘You have a wonderful laugh.’

Despite being married and a mother of three, I fancied Eric like crazy.

One hour passed and I was sad when my shift ended. ‘This has been amazing,’ Eric said. ‘Please take my number?’

We weren’t supposed to exchange numbers with our patients, but I couldn’t say no.

Back at home, I kept checking my phone to see if Eric had messaged as my husband watched TV.

We’d been married for 20 years, but we’d fallen out of love and though we’d discussed separating, we stayed together for the kids.

Then, later that evening, Eric texted! When are you coming next? I want to see you, he wrote.

Me too. I’ll come tomorrow, I told him.

I wasn’t rostered on to care for him that day, but after my shift ended, I drove to his flat. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t help myself.

‘I’ve been excited all day,’ Eric gushed at the door. Bending down, I hugged him.

I was 38 – 40 years younger than Eric (Credit: Hotspot Media)

During the next hour, Eric told me how he’d been paralysed from the waist down for 10 years.

‘It’s very hard to live like this,’ he said. ‘You have me to look after you now,’
I soothed, meaning it.

The following day, I noticed Eric’s file at my desk.

Opening it, I saw his date of birth – 1939. That made him 78!

He’s 40 years older than you, I stressed. You can’t feel this way.

A week later, I decided to bring it up to Eric.

‘I didn’t realise how old you were,’ I said, nervously.

‘Do I look it?’ he smirked.

‘No,’ I giggled.

All my doubts and fears suddenly faded away. It was too late to care about a silly number, I’d fallen for him.

During the next three months, I cooked for Eric, bathed him and helped him around the house during shifts.

When I wasn’t scheduled to visit him, I did it anyway.

Eric and I loved chatting while watching TV and I took him to the park.

I discovered he’d been married once before and had a daughter and son in their 50s.

‘Your kids are older than me!’ I chuckled. Back at home, I couldn’t stop mentioning Eric.

‘You sound like you’ve got a crush on this old man,’ my husband teased.

Nervously, I fake laughed.

But there was no denying it, and I decided to come clean to Eric about my feelings.

‘I’m falling in love with you,’ I admitted.

‘I’m crazy about you too,’ he smiled.

Then, we kissed passionately. As my husband and I had discussed separating, I didn’t feel guilty.

Eric was a silver fox (Credit: Hotspot Media)

A month later, my boss called me into her office.

‘You’ve been seeing Eric Morgan while you’re not on shift,’ she said.

‘I can explain,’ I stuttered.

Tons of excuses flooded my mind, but I was so sick of lying.

‘We’re in love,’ I declared.

I knew it was unethical to be seeing a patient. It’s Eric or my career, I realised.

‘I want to be with him,’ I said. ‘I quit.’

Back home, I confessed everything to my family.

‘That’s disgusting,’ my husband said. ‘He’s an old man!’
But I didn’t care at all.

Eric was so kind and I phoned him immediately to tell him we could be together.

From that day on, we were a couple, and two months after that, I moved in with him.

I knew Eric was the one for me (Credit: Hotspot Media)

My middle son came to live with us too. Thankfully, Eric’s kids were accepting of us.

‘I’m glad Dad has you to look after him,’ his daughter said, hugging me.

‘Eric looks after me too,’ I smiled back. ‘He’s my
best friend.’

Neighbours often assume he’s my dad, but I just laugh.

‘Eric’s my boyfriend,’ I tell them. ‘Before you apologise, don’t worry about it.’

Even doctors make the same mistake when I take Eric for check-ups.

Now, Eric and I have been together for nearly two years and we recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

As soon as my divorce comes through, we plan to get married.

I worry every day about how long I have left with him.

But I just count my lucky stars that I was assigned to Eric that day and met him at all.

I may have found love in the most unusual way, but I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. ●

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