sex and the elderly

I took a shower and went up to Bill | My Grandmother’s sex life

My grandmother tracked everything. Who needs an app to track when you have sex? She certainly didn’t.

Unfortunately, my Grandmother died when I was only 17. She was 77, a few years older than my Mother is today. Complaining of fatigue for months, her family doctor prescribed more and more medication. By the time she was hospitalized, her cancer was inoperable and she had mere months to live.

But this post isn’t about the failure of her doctor or her death; it’s about her sex life.

To my teenage self, 77 seemed rather old. My Grandmother was raised in a very conservative Christian faith. Her father was a church leader and came from a long line of leaders; she wore an external sign of her faith every single day of her life.

Her faith also dictated she didn’t mess with what God gave her: no shaving, no waxing, no hair dying, no bling, not even a wedding ring. I’m not sure she ever wore a dress above the knee. 

She had lots of friends and she taught me to play pool. I was shocked to find a recipe for homemade wine among her papers as drinking was frowned upon. A common joke about my ancestors is that sex is banned because it leads to dancing.

Well, sex certainly wasn’t banned – and if judging only from frequency, my Grandmother seems to have embraced the absence of sexual restriction.

Her husband died when I was only 7. A 67 year-old seems ancient to a child. She moved into a retirement community and started dating. I was the beneficiary of a great summer vacation from the suitor who dated her when they were in their 20s and who waited the requisite year of mourning to ring her up again.

Think about that for a moment. She was his unrequited love for almost fifty years.

When they broke up, she dated someone from her retirement community, until he died. There were others, but her brevity of writing and expression don’t give me many details. I will dig up the entry the day she was engaged to my Grandfather. If not for a subsequent reference to being engaged I would have missed it entirely, it was so terse. 

So while is hard to know whether “Carl came to call” means they sat and talked over coffee or they got horizontal – she definitely had several suitors and didn’t lack for male attention.

Her last boyfriend was Bill. He was blind, and with her until her death.


My Aunt had all of my Grandmothers journals in her attic. Over the course of several visits, I made my way through them. On one occasion we noticed she had circled a number of dates in red. Nope, not her menstrual cycle.

Every single date circled had a reference to Bill.

“Lovely evening with Bill.”

“Bill came over.”

“Took a shower and went up to Bill.” (My favorite, by far)

Yup. She marked every time she had sex.

It was a lot.

There are slips of paper tucked into the back of some of the journals – listing every date circled in red, and totalling the number. One list ends with a comment that Bill had hand surgery on a certain date. There were no entries listed after that and I confess to laughing out loud upon reading. Poor Grandma. 

Well into her 70s, my Grandmother had more sex in one year than I did in many years of marriage.

Having experienced a post-marriage sexual reinvigoration, it makes me miss her even more. I didn’t even know what questions to ask at 16. But now the list is endless.

I’m curious about her love life and her sex life. Why she didn’t marry the man who wanted to still date her 50 years later. Whether she had a libido similar to mine. Whether she ever struggled to reconcile it with her conservative upbringing. Did she ever talk to her friends or sisters about sex? Did she ever get on top? 

Or perhaps this was obligation on action. Perhaps she did what was expected and I am simply trying to find a correlation which isn’t there. Perhaps I am applying my 2016 thinking on a woman born in 1913. 

But as my Mom reminds me, human behaviour hasn’t changed all that much. 

So wherever you are Grandma, and whichever male companions are in your path, I hope you are rocking their worlds. I miss you.

50 thoughts on “I took a shower and went up to Bill | My Grandmother’s sex life

  1. What a great story to share! I bet she was every bit as sexual as you are today, but the times and culture dictated a different way of handling and/or talking about it. This inspires me to talk to my grandmom (who’s 90) about this stuff, before it’s too late.

  2. I so enjoyed this story….I would like to ask my mom so many more questions now too…it’s a shame when we don’t have the opportunity to ask when we finally know what to ask!

    My bet is on the genes, it’s in the genes.

  3. I sat one day with my wife, talking to my mother-in-law in the diner near her home. The conversation turned to my father-in -law who had passed away about a year before. We reminisced for a while and then she said, loud enough for much of the diner to hear, “What I really miss is SEX! Joe (not his real name) really knew how to…” My wife tried to shhh her but she continued, “and he was hung like a horse!”

    She was 80 years old! I hope they’re together today getting it on like IN THE OLD DAYS.

  4. Many years ago we used one of those birth calculators that doctors use to calculate the anticipated due date. They work backwards as well, so if you enter your birthday, you can see when your parents (for instance) did the deed.

    Funny how November 20th is almost exactly 40 weeks from February 14th. Give or take a week, you can tell who got what for Valentine’s Day.

    • Thank you. I have been working to accept my sexuality and desires and – probably more significantly – how I choose to act on them!
      My Grandmother was fun loving and wonderful.

  5. This is wonderful and resonates with me. My own Grandmother said so many things, that I never even recognized at the time, showed her sexuality. She was (Road Dave with bells on) pregnant when she married my grandad, she was a young mum, a young grandmother who was mistaken for my mum and she was a sexy gran. She loved to dance and sing, she was a party animal. But sadly I don’t think she was fulfilled, she didn’t meet anyone else (to my knowledge) after my grandad, but I always sensed she would have wanted to have. She is my greatest influence and perhaps the reason I am where I am today – happy and sexually fulfilled πŸ™‚

    • That’s a lovely testament to your Grandmother Julie! As I get older (and I still feel young) I have a much better understanding of aging and the things I used to assume changed as we get older.

  6. Being on the verge of the 7th decade, I can state that we do have lots of sex. It is so free from the worries of the earlier years and new drugs help carry both men and women to the younger prime.

  7. I work in an OB/GYN clinic and my favorite call from a patient was the 88-year-old woman who told me that she and her husband had tried out some new sex toys the night before and now she was experiencing some burning “down there.” While I empathized with her pain, I wanted to high-five her through the phone for still having sexy times with her spouse and toys when she was 88-years-old. You go, granny!

    • That is fantastic. I can see why that would be a favorite story!! I doubt my grandmother had any sex toys, but perhaps that’s an unfair assumption. My Aunt would have found them when they cleared out her apartment…but then again, maybe she wouldn’t say anything.

  8. The man who waited 50 years to ask her out again. That’s the part that gets me. Imagine his happiness when he finally got his second chance with her. I love stories like that.

    • My Mom gave me some insight after I shared that post with her. She said he was several years older (less than a decade, though) and I think my Grandmother also moved a couple of hours away. But yes, I remember they seemed pretty happy together… I wonder whether my Mom knows why they broke up. I still remember the first time I heard “The Tide is High” by Blondie was the one summer we went to a summer place owned by his family.

      • LOL, that Blondie reference is awesome. I love when a random song gets attached to a memory like that. It’s so much fun when it comes on the radio unexpectedly and triggers the memory.

          • And sometimes you don’t even remember the connection until you hear the song and the memory just pops into your mind. Embarrassingly I have a memory attached to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax. How bad is that, right?

          • No, not bad at all… but I suspect I’m from a similar vintage as you so you’re talking to someone who had a t-shirt that said “I don’t care what Frankie says” πŸ˜‰

          • LMAO, Yes, we are from a similar vintage, although I hate to think of our age as vintage. Perhaps we’re like a good wine or whisky and we’re better as we age. Based on your blog I’d say that’s definitely the case with you.

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