Later in Love: Love Was in the Cards
Photo: Courtesy of Elaine Mendicino
Neither Elaine, 72, nor Fiore Mendicino, 67, both of Oshawa, had any interest in going on a blind date. But his daughters, and Elaine’s esthetician, all felt deep down it was meant to be.
Elaine Mendicino: I’m a retired nurse. My husband died suddenly in 2011 after 39 years of marriage.
Fiore Mendicino: I was born in Italy, immigrated at three, grew up in Oshawa and worked at General Motors. I have four girls from my first marriage, which ended in divorce.
EM: Two of his daughters were clients – and friends – of my esthetician, Arezou. She’s Iranian and is said to have a third eye. One day she said, “I have these friends and they have this father …” She told me he’s retired and likes golf. I pictured some old guy and immediately said no.
FM: I’d been single for about three years and was feeling just fine. My daughters invited me to a barbecue and sprung a set-up on me. I pictured a goody-two-shoes nurse. We had a heated discussion, during which I said I liked my life the way it was, and left.
EM: Arezou made me promise to think about it, which I said I would over this river cruise I was taking, but I didn’t. I had his phone number scribbled on a piece of paper in my junk door in the kitchen. One day I found it and thought, like the Nike logo, just do it. I talked to old people for a living, so I knew I could do it.
FM: I’m younger than her, by the way. I’ll turn 68 in November.
EM: I didn’t know why, but I hadn’t been so nervous since I wrote my RNs. It was just so surreal. I hadn’t dated in 40 years, and I wasn’t even legal drinking age when I got married at 20. Just the thought of it felt so weird, but I did it anyway. I called on a Tuesday night and interrupted the hockey game.
FM: She was an unidentified caller, so I almost didn’t answer. She introduced herself, and we started talking. I don’t remember about what, and before I knew it, it had been an hour and a half.
EM: I mostly remember laughing.
FM: It was just so easy. We had a lot of weird little things in common. Our mothers had the same birthday – April Fool’s Day. We have the same rare blood type. I don’t believe in that third eye stuff, but sometimes it was almost eerie.
EM: We met in person for dinner that weekend. We picked a small restaurant so we wouldn’t look silly looking for each other. We told each other what we were gonna wear and we had the blind date after all. I was a nervous wreck, but he was so easy to talk to.
FM: I’m always early and she was late, but she brought me three homemade cookies. And she brought Tupperware for leftovers. I’m trying to be funny here because she was just wonderful. I don’t know if I ever thanked my daughters, but I should because they were right.
EM: He moved in soon and we got married a year later. A year exactly from the day we met. It was small and very casual: mostly family, wear whatever, no gifts. But Arezou, who was a witness and my bridesmaid, had already got us one: a bright blue ceramic third eye. It’s been hanging by our front door ever since.
—As told to Rosemary Counter
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A version this article appeared in the Aug/Sept 2023 issue with the headline ‘Later in Love’, p. 30.