*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by my mother, who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission.
He married an older woman for a green card and didn’t live long enough to get it.
Sometimes you don’t get what you bargained for.
When my parents were young newlyweds, they met another newlywed couple in their tightly-knit neighborhood. The other couple may have been newlyweds, but they weren’t young. Rather, only one of them was young.
It appeared to be a May-December romance.
The couple comprised a young man and his noticeably older bride.
My mother knew they must have an interesting story. Their story was interesting and surprising.
The young man was a tourist from the same island overseas where both my parents were born. He needed a green card if he wanted to remain in the United States once his tourist visa expired.
The older woman was a widow who never expected to find love again. She especially didn’t expect to find love with a younger man. That he needed a green card to remain in the country mattered not at all to her. She was in love.
By all accounts, their marriage wasn’t bad. He made her breakfast every day for the first couple of years of their marriage. He did the dishes after every meal. He never complained. He had more than enough money to leave her, but he stayed because they’d built a life together… and because he needed her to help him get his green card.
According to my mother, their relationship shocked the entire neighborhood. The local gossips discussed the situation at length. Everyone seemed to agree. The young man was using his older wife for a green card, and he would leave her as soon as he got the chance.
He never got the chance.
The young man developed a toothache. Since he didn’t have a driver’s license, his wife drove him to the dentist’s office. He needed to have a routine tooth extraction, but he was afraid to have his tooth pulled while he was awake.
So the dentist extracted the tooth under general anesthesia.
The young man died there in the dentist’s chair, leaving his bride a widow once more. He never got his green card. In the end, he didn’t need it.
With them both dead and buried, it’s impossible to ask what their marriage was really like. Isn’t it possible that they loved each other despite their age difference and his need for a green card? None of these things is mutually exclusive.
I choose to believe there was more to their marriage than the neighborhood gossips knew. Maybe the reason he was so keen to remain in the United States was that he wanted to remain by her side. If that’s the case, they have their happy ending.
This all happened more than half a century ago. His wife may have outlived him, but not by much. She lies buried beside her husband in their family plot.