Love & Family

I became a granny at 22

Isabella, 22, reveals how she fell in love with a 61-year-old.

Following her heart, Isabella found true love.

Here, Isabella Buckingham, 22, tells the story in her own words.

Sprawled on the sofa, I was on an online dating app.Scrolling through profiles of the potential blokes, no-one was taking my fancy – until my thumb stopped at Barry.

He seems great, I chuckled at his witty bio.

With me being 20 and Barry’s profile showing he was 59, I knew he might be put off by my age. But I’d always had a thing for older men. Even at 12, my first crush was my 38-year-old history teacher!

Despite trying to date blokes closer to my age, they just didn’t do it for me, so I’d adjusted my dating profile to only show me guys 30 and up.

I know I’m a lot younger, but I’d be thrilled if we could meet for a coffee? I typed. My heart leapt when I got a response from Barry, giving me his number.

We agreed to meet the next day. Pulling into the car park at the cafe, my phone buzzed with a message. Look up, Barry had written. Glancing up, I locked eyes with Barry and grinned. He was gorgeous!

As the coffee shop was so noisy, we grabbed a drink and sat in his car to talk, and three hours later, we were still chatting away.

We both loved sports, particularly rugby, and swapped stories about our families. 

age gap couple
Barry and me – we are a perfect match

Barry had been married before and had two kids, Amy, 32, and James, 30. It was weird to think they were older than me!

At 39 years my senior, Barry was older than my dad and closer to my grandad’s age than he was mine!

Admitting this was new to him, Barry said, ‘This is my first time dating someone younger than me. I never thought I’d appear attractive to you.’

When we kissed, I knew we had something special. Things moved quickly and just two months later, Barry asked me to move in. I was living with my dad, so I had to tell him the news.

Taking a deep breath, I said, ‘Dad, I’ve met someone. He’s a bit older, but I’m happy.’ ‘I’m pleased for you, but I don’t want to know anymore about him,’ he said.

We were so close and I knew Dad struggled with the fact I was dating, let alone an age difference.

As Barry and I became serious, I did tell my mates.By now, he’d had a birthday, so the age gap sounded even bigger.

‘Holy moly!’ my friend Joanna, 23, exclaimed. ‘Sixty!’ But hearing the excitement in my voice, she smiled. ‘You’re happy and that’s all that matters,’ she said.

Next time we met up, Barry came too and the two of them chatted about music. ‘He’s lovely,’ Joanna beamed.

When we’d been together for three months, my mum Anne, 51, sent me a text inviting me to her place for Christmas Day. Bring the guy you’re seeing too! she wrote.You do know he’s 60? I wrote back, nervously. Age is just a number, don’t worry love, she fired back immediately.

It was such a fun day and everyone loved Barry. His daughter Amy was a bit dubious about me at first. ‘She’s worried you might be a gold digger,’ Barry said. But we got along really well and Barry’s son James even invited us to stay at his place in Perth. He’s recently become a dad, which means I’m a step-grandma!

barry and son
Me, Barry and Barry’s son James
family photo
Me, my mum and my siblings

There are times we get mistaken for father and daughter. One day we were both donating blood. ‘It’s so nice to see a dad and daughter doing this together,’ the nurse said.

Throughout the procedure, she kept making references to us being related and when we left she said, ‘Enjoy the rest of your father and daughter day out.’

On that occasion it had gone too far for us to correct her, but other times we’ll point it out. The other person usually gets flustered and apologises. It doesn’t bother me, as it’s an easy assumption to make.

Obviously with Barry’s age, it’s likely I’m going to be around a lot longer than him, but we both agree that we’d rather have some years together than none at all. And even if he gets sick, I’ll be with him to the end. Age gap or not, you always look after your loved ones. I’ve always said that I don’t want kids, so that’s
an obstacle we don’t have to worry about!

I don’t go out clubbing either, much preferring to watch a documentary or try a new restaurant with Barry. 

Now we’ve been together for two years. Barry is all I’ve wanted in a partner and I’m not going to let his age change that. There will be times when our gap shows – I’m happy to listen to Justin Bieber, while he’s more of a ’70s rock kind of guy. But our differences mean we can teach each other new things. And while we don’t know what the future holds, we’re enjoying every moment. 

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life!, on sale now.

Related stories