Loading my groceries from the car into my wheel barrow, I let out a deep sigh.
My house was on a large block and since breaking my wrist two years earlier, I couldn't lug the heavy bags up my front stairs.
I really need to sell up and move somewhere smaller, I thought, looking at my large three bedroom home in Dargaville.
I'd spent most of my life in Waiuku, four hours away, but when my husband David was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we moved to be closer to where he was having treatment.
I was devastated when he passed away just a year later.
Five years on, I was still rolling around this big empty house all by myself.
Lonely, I looked up the Waiukiu Grapevine Facebook page and posted that I was after a cottage to rent and share with my dog, Panda.
Then I noticed a post already on the page.
Any lady, I have a spare room. I am 75, just share expenses, live alone - my wife passed away two years ago. Just someone to talk to. It gets so lonely by myself. Not a very good cook. So maybe it might suit you. Live in the Waiuku centre of town, close to shops, a man named Jerald had written. His profile picture was of a car, so I couldn't see what he looked like.
It wasn't exactly what I'd had in mind but then, what did I have to lose? It would at least be some company.
I sent Jerald a message and we wrote back and forth about our situations and what we were both looking for.
One day, I was shocked to open a message from him saying he'd looked at my photos and thought I was beautiful.
Oh what a flirt, I thought, blushing.
Then he drove down to meet me two weeks later, just before Christmas.
Greeting him at the door, I couldn't help but notice how handsome he was, with his full, bushy beard.
As soon as he sat on the lounge, Panda jumped straight up on his lap and snuggled into his tummy.
I could hardly believe it!
"She never usually likes men," I said, which only solidified my inkling that Jerald must be a good egg.
I asked if he wanted coffee or tea.
"Don't I get a kiss after driving all this way?" the cheeky bugger replied.
Well, alright, I thought, giving him a quick peck on the cheek.
Before I knew it, he wrapped his hands in my hair and pulled me in for a long deep kiss.
It'd been o long, I'd forgotten how blissful it felt to be so passionate!
We must have sat there smooching like teenagers for a good 20 minutes.
When we finally parted, Jerald looked deep into my eyes.
"Well, it's official, I like you and I'm not leaving without you," he grinned.
"I feel like I'm 17 again," I giggled, still rosy-cheeked.
We had so much in common, we ended up staying up all night talking.
I found out Jerald had been married to a lovely woman named Barbara for 55 years, but she'd sadly died of cancer three years earlier.
We both had kids but they'd all grown up and moved on.
I invited him to stay another night and it was a relief, otherwise he'd have spent Christmas Day by himself.
I made roast pork with all the trimmings and we finished it off with a big bowl of plum pudding.
"That was delicious, I've only had frozen meals since Barbara passed," he told me.
The next day, Jerald drove me to his house, and by then I was already in love with him.
It'd hit me like a lightning bolt out of nowhere.
I've never felt like this before, I realised, hardly believing how lucky I was.
At 73, I never thought I'd meet the love of my life!
Pulling into the driveway, I felt instantly at home.
His garden was full of gnomes, just like mine was!
"I'm going to be very happy here, Jerald," I told him sealing the deal with a kiss.
It wasn't long before I put my house on the market.
Jerald helped me unpack my boxes at his place and he came across one with my vintage doll collection in it.
I showed him the first doll I'd started with and he held it in his hands.
It had belonged to my mother Edith and she'd given it to me on her deathbed to remember her by, after telling me she'd come back to visit me as a butterfly.
"Your stuff looks like it belongs here, Val," he said softly, placing it on a shelf.
Just then, a beautiful blue butterfly floated past me in the lounge room.
My eyes welled with tears.
I knew Mum was giving me her approval.
Jerald and I were meant to be.
After moving back to Waiuku, life became wonderful.
Not only had I found love with a wonderful man, but I reconnected with old friends I'd missed so dearly.
After a couple of months, Jerald presented me with a diamond ring in the shape of a flower.
"The first time I looked in your eyes, I knew it was love at first sight.
Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?" he asked.
"Yes," I shouted, planting a kiss on him.
We're planning to get married in December, just before our one year anniversary.Who would have thought I'd get engaged again in my seventies?!
Before I met Jerald, I didn't have much to look forward to.
I'd thought the best years of my life were behind me.
But I'm proof that you don't have to be lonely.
All you have to do is put up a post on Facebook and you might just ending up meeting a friend, or even your soulmate.