Later In Love: The Journey Was the Destination
Photo: Margo Viner
After a lifetime’s worth of travels, Ontarian Maureen Doherty (left), 67 and Californian Sindi McGrath (right), 69, met and fell in love in Nunavut and finally settled in Greenwich, N.S., with their miniature dachshund, Frida.
Maureen Doherty: I was trained as a teacher and taught in Nigeria for a year. Then I got married, headed north to Nunavut, and raised three boys. Eventually, I found myself single again and realized if I was going to be with somebody again, it would be a woman. I was 60 when Sindi came into my life.
Sindi McGrath: I grew up in San Francisco and put my kinesiology degree to work in everything but physical education: roofing, manufacturing, car mechanic. I moved around the U.S. and then to Nova Scotia. I got my nursing degree there and was headed to Rankin Inlet [in Nunavut] to work in mental health nursing in 2016.
MD: Before Sindi moved, her friend asked my friend if I’d answer a few questions for a nurse moving north. I said sure. Her Facebook profile was her kindergarten picture, so I had no idea how old she was. I’m used to questions like, “How cold is it?” “How many coats will I need?” Sindi’s questions were very unusual.
SM: I asked, “How’s the fishing?” “How’s the social life?” “Is there much of a queer community up there?”
MD: She wasn’t the least bit concerned about the climate. I found myself kind of intrigued, even though we were very different. We kept the conversation going all summer, which was the summer I turned 60. Sindi tried to send me flowers, which made me think there was something more than friendship happening.
SM: My flower effort was a bit pathetic. She was at a cottage in the States and they wouldn’t accept my card. I was upset because 60 is a big deal. But I was headed north in September, so we made plans to finally meet in person.
MD: I helped her unpack and get her apartment set up. I learned she had brought absolutely nothing practical. We were so busy chatting that we forgot the actual purpose of our conversation.
SM: Well, I brought my fishing pole.
MD: I visited all the time, flying back and forth. We went to a yoga retreat together in Costa Rica with my friends, who very much approved of her. A year later, she changed jobs for a position in Iqaluit. This time, she squeezed her stuff into my apartment. We’ve been together since then.
SM: Maureen was so lovely, caring
MD: Sindi was so fun! She’s led such a colourful, interesting life and has a great sense of adventure. I gravitated to that and her. I’d been so comfortable and content on my own, but Sindi made me reconsider. You’d think at 60 that most of life’s behind you, but we realized we had a whole other one to live together.
SM: We both retired at the beginning of the pandemic and purchased a house in Nova Scotia. We got a little freckled lapdog named Frida, and then Maureen completely surprised me by asking me to marry her.
–As told to Rosemary Counter
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A version this article appeared in the Oct/Nov 2023 issue with the headline ‘Later in Love’, p. 32.