When she moved to Pikesville’s North Oaks Senior Living Community nearly two years ago, Carol Friedman didn’t know a single soul there. But her daughter, Lesley Adelman of Pikesville, assured Friedman, a New Yorker-turned-Floridian, that she would meet many nice and friendly people at North Oaks.
What Friedman, who is now just shy of her 95th birthday, didn’t expect was that she would also meet her fourth husband, Aaron Seiden.
“When I moved in, they wrote an article about me in the community newspaper,” she recalls. “It said that I had been married three times. I loved every one of my husbands, but they all died. So what does Aaron do? He walks up to me and says, ‘I’m not going to be your number four!’ So I said, ‘There isn’t going to be a number four!’
“But then, he came after me.”
Friedman and Seiden tied the knot last March at Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Greengate Jewish Center, where Seiden, 94, is a congregant. This Valentine’s Day will mark their first as a married couple.
“Aaron goes [to MMAE] every year on the anniversary of his bar mitzvah and recites his haftorah. I’m so proud of him when he does his haftorah!” gushes Friedman. “He’s Orthodox and I’m not, but that doesn’t matter.”
What does matter, she says, is that “he’s a wonderful man. We really love each other.”
Seiden, a New York native and World War II veteran who moved to Baltimore more than 60 years ago to work at the Social Security Administration, echoes his wife’s sentiments.
“She’s a beautiful person. We sing in harmony. And living here, she doesn’t have to cook, thank God!” he says with a laugh. “We enjoy being together. The world’s worst disease is loneliness. To be alone, that wasn’t for me.”
Cindy Wolf, North Oaks’ director of sales and marketing, says residents there often arrive as singles but end up becoming romantically involved. Still, she says that Friedman and Seiden, who is a two-time widower, are only the second couple at North Oaks that she has seen make it to the chuppah.
“It’s natural that this would happen in such a social environment,” she says. “People eat together, take classes together. Anecdotally, I’d say the people who work in the dining room are pretty good matchmakers. They really know all the residents and make sure that no one sits alone. Sometimes, they are the cupids.”
In some ways, the later-in-life courtship of Carol Friedman and Aaron Seiden seems to have been a case of beshert. Shortly after they met, Friedman, a retired guidance counselor, suffered a fall that left her with two broken ribs. She says she was thoroughly impressed with Seiden’s compassion and attentiveness.
“I had aides around the clock. [But] every day, like clockwork, Aaron came and visited for an hour,” she says. “He’s a very nice human being.”
During one particular visit, Friedman says, “He kissed me.”
And the rest is history.
Friedman and Seiden say some people may wonder why a pair of nonagenarians would bother getting married at that stage of life. But Seiden says, “I knew what I wanted. I had two happy marriages. Why not a third? Life goes on.”
Friedman says it was a matter of propriety as well. “I didn’t want him fooling around, coming to my apartment at night,” she says. “I wanted to set a good example for my grandchildren. I wanted it to be legitimate. We met in July, and by September we were hot and heavy. So we were married in March.”
Last December, the couple went on a family cruise with Friedman’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “On our cruise, there was wonderful stuff for children. They had everything – roller skating and bumper cars. The kids had a fantastic time!” Friedman says. “I had always loved bumper cars. They reminded me of when I was a kid in Coney Island.”
So Friedman and Seiden decided to also give the bumper cars a whirl. “It took a little effort to get in, and a lot of effort to get out!” says Friedman. “But it was a thrill to be driving again. Both of us gave it up.”
When the ride was over, and the couple was helped out of their respective bumper cars, “everyone clapped,” Seiden says.
Besides fate and chemistry, Friedman attributes her newlywed status to North Oaks’ staff and sense of camaraderie.
“Let me tell you something,” she says, “99.1 percent of the people who work [at North Oaks] are wonderful. How could I come here at my age, not knowing a soul? It’s a very welcoming place. Life is good.”
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