Al and Doris Grund are newlyweds, married on Sept. 24, four months after their first date. This is their first Valentine's Day as a married couple.
"We have a lot of firsts," said Doris. "Our first month together. Our first Christmas together. Now, our first Valentine's Day together."
Their story is an unexpected, late-in-life valentine, proof of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love and the surprise of a few more firsts in older adulthood.
She is 66. He is 93. They met at Carmichael Oaks Senior Living. She was Doris Loney when she moved there in 2005. Al Grund and his late wife, Lucy, moved in a year later. Doris knew them as a couple and watched as Al took care of Lucy in her final days.
Then she watched him grieve, alone.
Together, Al and Doris' previous marriages totaled 94 years of wedded life.
They live in a cozy independent-living apartment with her African gray parrot, Gypsy, and her two cats, Albert and Audrey. Al is a retired postal carrier, and Doris worked in a bank before leaving to deal with her multiple sclerosis and her late husband's Parkinson's disease.
Before he asked her out, Al got his grown children's permission to date and then he asked a mutual friend if Doris might want to go out with him.
"We had a little help," he said.
"A matchmaker," said Doris. "Al was just going to be a companion, someone to go to dinner with or go to the show. We had several dates. And one night I got misty-eyed and told him I had a problem.
"I said, 'I think I'm falling in love with you.' "
"I said, 'Join the crowd,' " Al said. "I didn't know how to tell her. I was afraid I'd scare her off."
Three months later, after Al had mentioned several times that he was too old to marry again, Doris suggested they live together instead.
"I said, 'No, I can't do that,' " he said. "I'm not the kind of guy to move in."
"He's from the old school," said Doris.
So he asked her to marry him anyway. It wasn't until after they married that he finally asked her her age.
He didn't worry about the age difference, but she did.
"I struggled with it a long time," she said. "Then I realized that me loving him and him loving me is all that matters."
At the wedding, Al's daughter, Janice Martin, told Doris she wouldn't call her "Mom."
"She's not old enough to be my mom," said Martin, 60, of West Sacramento. "I call her my sister. I like her a lot. I'm so happy they're together.
"I tell them all the time they remind me of teenagers. We'll go somewhere together, and I'll tell them, 'You can hold hands, but no making out.' "
For Valentine's Day, Al and Doris Grund are returning to the scene of their first date, the Ruth's Chris Steak House at Pavilions in Sacramento.
"We'll have a bottle of Champagne," Doris said.
She's festooned her walker with shiny red heart decorations, ready for her first Valentine's Day with her husband.