My Grandma’s Boyfriend

A short documentary that explores love after 80. When Verna met Patrick, she was a 70 year old widow and he was a 73 year old separated Irish man. All it took was a spot dance, a bottle of wine, and one year to bring them together. Eleven years of happines in eleven minutes.
16mm, colour, 11 minutes

Patrick O’Boyle & Verna Hayes
With special appearances by Sue Quackenbush, Gary Hayes, Cheryl Hayes-Olesky, Emily Olesky, Jessica Olesky, Paul Kipps, Collette Whiten, Megan Whiten, Kelsey Woods, and Shayla Handsor.
Cinematography by Marcos Arriaga
Written & Directed by Lisa Hayes


The international jury of the XXVI International Festival of Professional Films, TV and Videoprograms EKOTOPFILM 99 awarded My Grandma’s Boyfriend the Prize of the Ministry of the Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic, October 1999.

Film Festivals

  • Toronto Worldwide Short Film Festival, Toronto, June 7 & 8, 2001.
  • Sex & Death Film Festival, Toronto, December 5, 2000.
  • Rehab Festival of Film & Video, Toronto, June 18, 2000.
  • Contemporaty Issues Film Festival Loule, Algarve, Portugal, June 17 – 23, 2000.
  • Images Independent Film & Video Festival, Toronto, Canada, April 21, 2000.
  • Magnolia Independent Film Festival, Mississippi, USA, February 5, 2000.
  • The Winnipeg Film Group, Winnipeg, Manitoba, January 28, 2000.
  • XXVI International Festival of Professional Films, TV and Videoprograms EKOTOPFILM 99 , Slovak Republic, October 26 – 30, 1999.
  • New Orleans Film & Video Festival, New Orleans, October 10, 1999.


  • Goddard, Peter. 2000. “Parkdale’s streets were made for watching,” THE TORONTO STAR. June 16, 2000.
    “…With Grandma’s Boyfriend, Lisa Hayes has fashioned what has to be the least preachy film about romance and old age ever filmed.”
  • CIUT Radio Interview with Craig Barnes, Toronto. April 19, 2000. “My Grandma’s Boyfriend in the “Shouting From the Hip” program at the Images Film Festival.”
  • CKLN Radio Interview with Stacey Donan, Toronto. April 21, 2000. “My Grandma’s Boyfriend in the “Shouting From the Hip” program at the Images Film Festival.”

Production Notes

It was the fall of 1987. I got a call from my mother telling me that my Grandmother had a boyfriend — an Irish man named Patrick O-something. The whole family thought this was great, and I was looking forward to meeting him. Little did I know that we would become roommates that summer. Both my sister and I had moved in since we found summer jobs near her house. Pat moved in for other reasons.

Over the years, I have seen this unique and wonderful relationship grow. They give something to each other that allows them to live a richer and fuller life. They seem like they’ve been together forever. Having Pat in her life has allowed my Grandmother to reveal and celebrate sides of her personality that she has been repressing for years. Making this film allowed me to realize this.

Pat and Verna are average people, living normal lives, who found each other after they turned 70. This film shows that life and love can live on strong after 80.

The idea of a film on this topic began several years ago. I was debating whether to make a fictional film based on them and shoot it with actors, or go for a documentary. When the National Film Board’s Filmmaker Assistance Program agreed to support the film, I made the decision to go ahead with the documentary. But the subjects had changed dramatically in the time that I concieved the idea and finally received some support for the project. They were no longer the sexy hot couple, out on the town and the golf course every day. On a visit to my Grandmother’s farm, I found Pat in declining health with a new pacemaker and a walker, no longer able to golf. While their physical activities had been dramatically decreased, I found them to be as charming together as ever.

When I suggested the idea of a film, they both declined the offer. (Little did they know that I already had plans to shoot in a few weeks.) Just like my maternal Grandfather in Grandpa’s Fingers, my Grandmother felt that her life was far too dull to be the subject of a film. She reluctantly agreed to participate in hopes that it would help me and because she would like a film about Pat for his family. I believe that Pat went along with it to appease my Grandmother.

Our four person crew — myself, Marcos Arriaga, Jeff Sterne and Lisa Cupoli — spent two days at my Grandmother’s farm, about one hour north-east of Toronto. How often can you get the subjects of your film to make you lunch (while you film them) and then break for a leisurely meal with white wine, and then break for the day at 8 p.m. It was a fun shoot, despite the fact that neither of them would say anything that I had expected or wanted. So, after a few months of post-shoot depression, when I finally dug into the material and started to cut together small sequences, I found that their true, charming selves shone through, even though they wouldn’t talk about any of the topics that I had wanted to include in the film. When I finally allowed myself to follow their lead, I was able to weave together an endearing story about love after 80.

I nervously showed the final product to them on June 26, 1999. There were lots of smiles and laughs, and it seems that all my worry was for nothing.

Financial Assistance from the NFB Filmmaker Assistance Program