A 72-year-old grandmother has spoken about her marriage to a man who’s only 19-years-old.
The late-great Aaliyah once sang Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number and in the case of Almeda and Gary Hardwick, the sentiment couldn’t be truer.
Despite the 53-year age-gap Almeda and her young husband have remained married for the best part of two years, and it’s still going strong, enjoying their cosy little life in Maryville, Tennessee.
Their whirlwind romance kicked off in 2016 when the two meet at a pizza restaurant, and after two weeks of dating, the lovebirds were already getting hitched.
It was Gary who popped the question to Almeda, who at the time, had just come out of an unhappy relationship with a 77-year-old man.
Speaking about the elephant in the room - their age gap - Almeda said:
If you love somebody, age is just a number. I’ve now been happily married going on two years with my true soul mate.
We met at Chuck E Cheese, there was a birthday party there. I looked into his eyes and I just fell in love.
I knew he was the one I wanted to spend my life with. I was never intimidated by the age at all.
Reminiscing about the first time Gary met the love of his life, he says it was Almeda's 'beautiful, gorgeous blue eyes' as well as 'her personality' which swept him off his feet.
He went onto say:
She’s always full of laughter and we just connected so well. The chemistry was great.
Everything about her has just captured my heart since day one.
Despite the staggering difference in their age, Gary and Almeda have similar interests and hobbies, so Gary never feels as if he's 'missing out on anything by being married to someone who's far older than him.
I’m really mature for my age, I don't fit into the young age bracket at all. I’ve never been attracted to younger women.
Even when I was 13 or 14, I’ve always had an attraction for older women and when I told my grandmother, who raised me, I didn’t know how she would take it. But she accepted us.
A lot of people wait years to get married and everyone has different opinions on getting married quickly, but we knew we were in love, so I jumped on that.
The first time we made love was on our wedding night. It was an amazing experience. There was such a deep connection there. She’s a wonderful lover.
Naturally, there are those who don't agree with their union, and one of those people happens to be Almeda's son, who hasn't spoken to her since the day she met Gary.
Their marriage has also affected Almeda's relationship with her grandchildren, Aaron and Indiana Elliott.
In the early stages of their relationship, the two found it hard to accept – Aaron in particular who's only three years older than Gary.
However, over time, the tensions between him and his step-grandfather have eased and he's now at a point where he can call him a 'friend'.
I only called him Grandfather once and it was when I was drunk. In my head, I see him as a friend more than a Grandfather. But you know, our Grandmother is happy.
17-year-old Indiana added:
How can you not be supportive about that? For me personally, whenever they first got together it was a little bit weird. But I mean, we live in the 21st century and those things really shouldn’t matter.
My mom on the other hand is very outspoken, because you know there’s an age difference between him and my mom too so it’s a little weird to see your mother walking around with someone the same age as your own kids.
Despite the disapproval, it seems the bond between Gary and Almeda has not wavered.
The two have even taken to YouTube to display their affection. Their channel, which has 49K subscribers, mainly focuses on their undying love for one another.
More recently, they've included merchandise, such as pens and mugs with their faces on, to sell to their fans.
So what does the future hold for Gary and Almeda? For the latter, she believes Gary will be with her for the rest of her life. As for Gary, he wants to spread the message, 'age is just a number'.
Gary hopes he and his wife can 'inspire more and more people every day' how age is a concept which 'should not matter'.
As long as you’re in love with that person, you should follow your heart and be happy and be yourself.
If you want to find out more about Gary and Almeda you can follow them on YouTube by clicking here.
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