We’re more than halfway through Gerry Turner’s televised search for late-in-life love, and The Golden Bachelor goodbyes are becoming increasingly unbearable with each passing rose ceremony.

After Bachelor Nation bid farewell to April, Kathy, and Nancy in Episode 4, longtime fans of the franchise understandably assumed that four contestants would receive roses ahead of Hometown Dates, as is typically tradition. But with six women remaining at the start of Episode 5, host Jesse Palmer revealed that Gerry would only be giving out THREE roses, which meant three more emotional goodbyes were on the way.

After first impression rose winner Faith Martin snagged the first rose on a romantic one-on-one date, Gerry handed his two remaining Hometown stems to Leslie and Theresa, which meant three fan-favorite contestants — Kris Jenner lookalike and the show’s last remaining ASKN member Susan Noles; the sweet, swear word-slinging Sandra Mason; and pickleball co-captain/Roberta’s BFF Ellen Goltzer — headed home alone in Episode 5. And you know what? I’ll genuinely miss them!

Rarely when watching The Bachelor or The Bachelorette do I get so attached to contestants ahead of Hometown Dates that I’m sad to see anyone be sent home. Heck, I usually struggle to remember names of most contestants for the first half of each season. But from Night 1, The Golden Bachelor‘s group of seniors made my heart swell and left lasting individual impressions, thanks in part to Gerry’s efforts to chat with everyone and the show’s solid job of highlighting contestants’ unique personalities in edits.

Ellen, Susan, and Sandra on 'The Golden Bachelor'
Photo ABC/Ricky Middlesworth

Though Susan, a 66-year-old wedding officiant from Aston, Pennsylvania, didn’t get as much screen time as some of the other women by the end of Episode 5, her outgoing, caring, glamorous, maternal sides shone throughout the season. Remember when she popped out of a cake for Gerry’s surprise birthday party? When she spent the morning making chicken piccata and frying meatballs for the entire house, then later farting those meatball out? How about when she broke a wooden board during the talent show? Or comforting pals Joan and Ellen when they were down? That’s one loyal, lovable lady.

Susan popping out of a large cake on 'The Golden Bachelor'
Photo: ABC/John Fleenor

Similarly, Sandra, a 75-year-old retired executive assistant from Doraville, Georgia, had me — and Gerry! — at first “****.” Ever since she stepped out of the limo and professed her deep love of “F and S words” she captured Bachelor Nation’s hearts. She spent the season speaking her mind, but never showing malice. She admittedly had nerves, but they didn’t stop her from doing a stand-up comedy set with a joke about “big boobs.” She missed HER DAUGHTER’S WEDDING for a group date with Gerry, and emerged as an unlikely pickleball MVP. And she did it all with two artificial knees! She had me belly laughing when she powered through a game of Never Have I Ever — despite being lactose intolerant — and admitted she and her husband “did it everywhere” when asked about having sex in the workplace. Then looked right in the camera and said, “If I was married, I’d do it again!” An icon. But she also brought tears to my eye when she told Gerry she’d been single for 29 years and was ready to expand her and her two daughters’ family with his family. Sandra is a spritely, witty gem who made the Golden Bachelor‘s season brighter. As did Ellen, a 71-year-old retired teacher from Delray Beach, Florida.

Gerry and Sandra FaceTiming Sandra's daughter on 'The Golden Bachelor'
Photo: ABC/John Fleenor

Ellen may not have received the first impression rose, but her limo exit resonated the most, as she dedicated her entrance to Roberta Zaktzer, her longtime bestie of 60 years who had cancer and passed away in 2023. Throughout her Golden Bachelor journey, Gerry could see how special Ellen was, but at the same time, how she desperately needed to be reminded of that fact. He gave her thoughtful gifts — a framed photo from their romance novel cover shoot and a Michael Costello dress up day to a pair of fancy earrings — and those gestures helped Ellen look inward and become more vulnerable.

Gerry and Ellen on 'The Golden Bachelor'
Photo: ABC/John Fleenor

Ellen was the first to tell Gerry she was falling in love with him, which helped him realize how powerful and successful the process could be. She told cameras he made her feel like she’d just met the love of her life for the very first time, and Gerry admitted she was the contestant who helped him feel most like himself. Aside from her heavy emotions, Ellen also was a consistently cheery, hilarious personality in the group. As a pickleball captain who plays four times a week, she led her team — the Picklicious Paddles — to victory on the group date and won a spot in InPickleball magazine, saying, “Hasta la vista, baby! You’re done!” to her competition. She spent the episodes laughing, smiling, and “feeling like a kid again.” And even after her devastating goodbye, she left with her head held high, wishing the best for Gerry and saying, “This has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have a lot more optimism about love and the possibility of finding love at this stage in my life.

These three queens may not have been endgame for Gerry, but they were unapologetically themselves and showcased incredible strength, compassion, warmth, humor and genuine spirits until the end of their Golden Bachelor journeys. Here’s hoping we’ll see them again at a Women Tell All special, and if The Golden Bachelorette ever happens, we know the franchise has some serious contenders to choose from.

New episodes of The Golden Bachelor air on Thursdays from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC. Next-day streaming is available on Hulu. And be sure to read our full interview with Gerry Turner for more Golden Bachelor tidbits.