The Marriage Proposal That Wasn’t

Bob Morris could tell that something was changing with his elderly father: His car was clean, his manners had improved and he had a shine in his eyes. He had a new “lady friend.” Her name was Arlene.

Arlene loved Bob’s father, but she also set clear boundaries with him. She didn’t want to care for him when he got sick and — despite what Bob’s father led Bob to believe — she didn’t want to marry him.

Today, Anna Martin talks to Bob about his father’s last love story. Then, she talks to Arlene herself about a misunderstood marriage proposal and the limits of love.

Today’s episode mentions suicide. If you’re having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be having those thoughts, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Modern Love is hosted by Anna Martin and produced by Julia Botero, Christina Djossa, Elyssa Dudley and Hans Buetow. The show is edited by Sara Sarasohn, and our executive producer is Jen Poyant. The show is mixed by Sophia Lanman and recorded by Maddy Masiello. It features original music by Dan Powell and Pat McCusker. Our theme music is by Dan Powell.

Special thanks to Daniel Jones, Miya Lee, Mahima Chablani, Jeffrey Miranda, Renan Borelli, Nina Lassam, Julia Simon and Anna Diamond at Audm.

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Want more from Modern Love? Read past stories. Watch the TV series and sign up for the newsletter. We also have swag at the NYT Store and two books, “Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption” and “Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less.”

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