American photographer Lauren Fleishman created the series ‘The Lovers’ which was inspired by a series of love letters written by her grandfather to her grandmother during World War II that she found in a book next to his bed. The letters spoke of a young love, the type filled with expectations of a new life together. They connected Lauren Fleishman to her grandfather and his 59-year marriage in a way that she had not been able to connect to him in life. The letters inspired her to seek out and record the love stories of other long-married couples.
Yevgeniy, We met at a dancing party. It was in January 1938. My friend invited me to the party, he said there would be a lot of beautiful young girls. Another cadet with high boots had approached her, but she didn’t like high boots and so she said no to him. I was the second one to approach her. I had a different uniform, but I’m still not sure if it was my uniform or my face that attracted her to me.
Angie, You really don’t think about getting older. First of all, you’re aging together, and when you see a person constantly, you don’t notice big changes. Like you don’t notice, oh you’re getting a little wrinkle here and tomorrow you say it’s a little deeper. No, those are things that just happen. You don’t pay attention to those things. I mean, I’m not thinking every day, “Oh my husband’s 83 years old, he’s gonna be 84, oh my goodness, I’m married to an old man!” And I hope he feels that way too.
Moe, Now I’m going on 88, my wife is 85, and I’m only wishing for another five or six years of life. This is all we want. We don’t want to live much longer. We’d like to see our grandchildren get married and be happy like we were. As a matter of fact, I always say to my wife, “I wish I could reach 94.” That’s the aim of my existence. And I’d hate to leave my little wife here. And she’d hate to leave me.
Golda, We knew each other before the war, but we never spoke. He was with other girls because he was much, much older than me. You know, he was very nice-looking! He was a tailor, and he had a place where he made suits for men. When we came back from the war, he had gone to my sister’s house. I was staying with her. In August of this year, we will have been married 63 years. I would say love came little by little. Not right away. We were young. And he was older, but I liked him. He spoke to me in a very nice way.
Yaakov, What is the secret to love? A secret is a secret, and I don’t reveal my secrets!
Sheila, It was my mother who had suggested that I go see David because I had to write a music paper, and I had never written anything about music. So I went over, and I thought maybe he would write it for me. But he said, “No, I’ll help you, but you have to write it yourself.” He always had very high standards, much higher than mine. In everything. So after we wrote the paper together, he suddenly says, “I’m going to a party with some of the guys from the army.” So he took me out that night, and he was very friendly. And you know, I had never thought of him romantically. But he looked at me like a man who was just coming out of the army would look at a sexy woman.
All images © Lauren Fleishman