A writer is speaking out about the moment he knew he was in love with a Holocaust survivor who was 60 years his senior.
Gregor Collins opened up about falling in love with 92-year-old Maria Altmann back in 2007, when he was 32 years old. Collins says that a friend had convinced him to apply for a job as a caretaker for an elderly woman, and when he got called into an interview, he immediately noticed he had a strong attraction to Altmann.
“I’d never seen someone so elegant, yet there was something childlike about her too,” Collins confessed. “She had an insatiable curiosity about everything. We sat down together as if we were the only two people in the room. And she listened to me not with her ears but with her heart. On that morning my life changed, and believe me, I don’t just let any girl sweep me off my feet. I set everything aside for the next three years until her death, the first of someone I truly loved in my entire life. Our connection was immediate. It was like we had met in another life.
“Despite the age difference between us, I would daily forget she was what others may consider old,” Collins added. “We both felt like we were in our 20s, and we would admit that to each other regularly, without it ever getting uncomfortable. It was just perfectly magical. My friends were really supportive and were all eager to meet her. I was very selective about who I introduced her to, though. It was like I was taking them to meet my new girlfriend, and all the butterflies that come with that. The last thing I wanted was for a woman with such gentility, who in many ways saw me as perfect, to see me with a bunch of goons.”
Sadly, after a four-year relationship, Altmann, a Holocaust survivor, passed away.
“I stood there and watched her take her last breaths,” Collins recalled. “I didn’t want Maria before I met her, but I needed her once I did. We were exactly what we both needed. At the funeral her daughter Margie came up to me and said: ‘You were the last great love of my mother’s life.’ To hear it said aloud from a family member brought tears of gratitude, and humility — that I had the chance to make someone’s last three years on earth a pleasure. Since I met Maria I’ve done some of the best creative work of my life. She guides me in everything I do. True love never ends.”
Collins wrote about his relationship with Altmann in his 2012 book, “The Accidental Caregiver: How I Met, Loved, and Lost Legendary Holocaust Refugee Maria Altmann.”