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Before our big downsizing after Don’s stroke, I collected greeting cards. Fifty years’ worth of collecting went up for auction along with more than half of our possessions and I never started collecting cards again even though the inclination to do so pops its head up from time to time. Of my card collection, I only saved a few things including an old leather suitcase full of Valentines from the 1800’s that came down through Don’s family and an 8” x 10” Valentine's Day card in its own, custom box.
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I found the large, boxed card recently while cleaning closets. It was from Don and opening that card, made me smile warm and wide. I had forgotten his habit of rarely signing his name on the greeting cards he gave to me. Instead, he’d put a few words and his name on Post-it notes so he wouldn’t lower the collector value of the cards. That was Don. He could spend money with abandonment on silliness and flowery, over-sized cards but his practical side always showed up as well. It was very cool to re-discover that card so close to Valentine’s Day and it came with the Hallmark message of, “Loving you, sweetheart, the way that I do means finding contentment in being with you…finding such joy in just knowing that you care and real inspiration in the dreams we share.” Don never, ever calling me ‘sweetheart’ unless he was holding a pretend Groucho Marx cigar in his hand while making a smart-ass remark. His endearment for me was a made-up word and as much as I’d like to remember what it was, right now I can’t. The tiny details that made up our relationship are fading with time and leaving behind broad strokes we might label love, loyalty and friendship. Finding that forgotten card brought some of the details back and that was a good Valentine’s Day gift to get this year.
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This will be my third February 14th living on Widowhood Lane and this week I went to the annual Valentine’s Day luncheon at the senior hall. The first year I went---less than a month after Don’s passing---I had to leave shortly after the entertainment started because I couldn’t keep my tears in check. Bands that are entertaining a bunch of mostly widows shouldn’t sing sad songs like Duke Ellington’s, “Missed the Saturday dance. Heard they crowded the floor. Couldn't bear it without you. Don't get around much anymore.”
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In my second year of widowhood I stayed for the whole Valentine’s Day program at the senior hall and I didn’t cry when the entertainment played an assortment of longing-for-love songs but a recent widow sitting near-by did and I whispered understanding words in her ear. This year something astonishing happened. While the entertainer was singing Fats Domino’s, I Left My Heart on Blueberry Hill the lady sitting next to me burst out laughing. Then she explained that the song reminded her of a time when her sister was in high school and a guy came to pick her up for a date. Without asking for permission, he sat down at the family piano and started playing that song. The sister was so put off by his boldness that she made up an excuse not to go on the date. That piano was for Sunday morning hymns, after all, not for singing about ill-gotten thrills found on top of a hill.
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“That was my husband’s favorite song,” I told her, “and”---I drew out my words so their full weight could sink in---“in the entire 42 years that I knew him he never passed by a piano without taking the opportunity to sit down and play Blueberry Hill.”
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“It couldn’t have been your husband,” she said a couple of times. “This took place in---. “ Then she named a tiny town north of here. By then I was laughing so hard I could hardly tell her that Don grew up just a few miles from where she and her sister lived. Yup, it turned out it was him that got judged too bold and brazen to date.
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“Tell your sister thanks for passing him by,” I told her. “I got him and he was a keeper.”
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What are the odds in a city of over 600,000 people that two strangers would sit next to one another and find a bizarre, half-century old connection like that? Needless to say, I had a great time this year at the Valentine’s Day luncheon. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call progress here on Widowhood Lane. Or was this latest coincidence just another example of ‘ghost games’ at work?  I don’t know, doctor, but give me two chocolate covered caramels and I'll call you in the morning when I figure it out. ©
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My other blog is HERE.

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Comment by Maria Louisa on March 4, 2014 at 9:59pm

Thank you for the great story!

Comment by Blue Snow on February 15, 2014 at 4:22am

Joyce, I do too. I've had some pretty incredible "coincidences" like this happen since my husband died that are making me into a believer in what I call ghost games.

Comment by Joyce on February 14, 2014 at 12:02pm

Oh Blue, I loved this story. No matter how big we think the world is - it really is small.  Glad you got to make the connection and had such a nice time.  But I really think Don had a hand in it.  Hugs to you.

Comment by Blue Snow on February 12, 2014 at 8:38pm

Thank you!

Comment by laurajay on February 12, 2014 at 11:47am

Love your story.  Thanks for the blog.  I always have the urge to thank some unknown girl named Sandy that my husband used to play with back in his red-wagoned childhood  days   for moving away...otherwise  he might not have been there for me to meet and fall I love with... as for chocolate covered caramels I will end my reply lest I drool on my keyboard.   Laurajay

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