Tamas Panczel - Eross/ShutterstockReader’s Digest editors asked the Reader’s Digest contributor network to tell us their stories of first-time love. The following piece was written in response to that prompt. To share your own 100-word true story for possible inclusion in the magazine or on RD.com, click here.
Being a carhop in the 1950s afforded me the possibility of meeting some handsome young men. Each car I brought burgers and drinks to could mean new prospects. However, my youthful age of 14 scared off many possible suitors. But, there was one gentleman in particular that was enamored by my black hair and brown eyes. He asked if he could take me home from work when I got off at midnight. Of course, this needed the permission of my folks and I am still not sure why they agreed that this 18-year-old man could bring me home.
There were also some actual dates during that same summer. I was flattered by this young man wanting to be in my company. This came to an abrupt end though when one night a young woman came into the restaurant and before God and all the customers she screamed at me for dating the man she planned to marry. Oops!
However, each summer he continued to check me out, and yes, I still agreed to meet with him on his own terms. A special dating site was Harvey Stone Park on the campus of the nearby college he attended. I was truly smitten by his kisses. I never asked about this other woman and he did not offer any explanation. That seemed to me to be her problem.
Upon my own high school graduation, I moved from Maryland to Virginia to attend college. During the summer months, I once again worked as a carhop at the local hangout. I was now going steady with a guy from college. But, lo and behold, the guy from days of yore appeared one evening. I knew he was there for me, so I very discreetly removed the ring of my steady and dropped it into my pocket. We reconnected with no questions asked. (Here are more summer love stories that will make you swoon.)
Come fall we both returned to our former loves and lives. I found out that he married the young woman who he was pinned to in 1960. My own life took many twists and turns as I was hospitalized for major depression. My steady vanished. A young man living nearby asked me to marry him. I was not madly in love, but I was now 22 and desperately wanted to be a mother.
I gave birth to a son whom I adored. The marriage took us to Houston in the early 1960s. There were frequent visits back to Maryland to visit family. As I landed at the Houston airport coming back from one of these visits, I heard someone say, “Well, hi there. What are you doing here?” It was the heartthrob from those early years who was also now living in Texas. “Could I come visit you?” he asked. “Sure,” I replied, “however, you will be meeting my son and husband.” That was okay with him. The visit was brief but I was delighted he wanted to see me again. The spark was still there for both of us.
In the 1970s, my marriage ended in divorce. I returned to college and obtained my BA in Sociology, an MS in Pastoral Counseling, my LCPC in the state of Maryland (a license to practice counseling), and ordination to ministry in the Church of the Brethren. My second husband was very supportive of these endeavors. I enjoyed a career of 23 years in the same mental health setting where I had obtained treatment during my late teens. I was committed to giving aid to others suffering from major depression and other mental illnesses.
I took daily walks to clear my mind of all the stories I heard in the treatment center. One time, when I reached the house where I usually turned to head back home, a gentleman came out of the house to greet me. “Oh my God!” I said to myself. There he was again and just a short walk away. He introduced me to his second wife, as the first one had died in 1996. He had moved back to Maryland. So, I surmised again, he still also recalled our time together with fondness. I did, too.
At that point, both of our lives became very busy as caretakers for spouses with major health issues. His spouse died in 2009. My son had died earlier that year. I was devastated and yet still needing to care for a husband dying of cancer and under the care of hospice. “I wonder…” I asked myself. Yes, I called this gentleman and tentatively asked, “Would you like to have lunch sometime in the future?” I figured that he might need some time to grieve. “How about breakfast this Saturday?” he asked. “I’ll be there,” I replied. We had breakfast at the same restaurant where we met when I was 14 and he was 18. We both knew at this breakfast that destiny was finally on our side. He was very supportive of my need to care for my husband until death came in early 2010.
We were married October 30, 2010 at Harvey Stone Park, the place so many years ago where we stole our first kisses. Don’t miss these 49 quotes that perfectly capture what it’s like to fall in love.
Patricia Hollinger is a Reader’s Digest reader. She is also a member of the Reader’s Digest contributor network.