Welcome to the Lost & Found Blog Hop!
For this event, I invited a very special guest...the lady who gave birth to me, my mother! With a credential like that, need I say more?
Welcome, Caroline Hartman Miller!
Hello! I'm glad to be here. Glad to do my daughter's work for her. It reminds me of when she was a teen, and she'd talk me into cleaning her room by telling me I did it best. Of course, I know that's pathetic manipulation, but she is my baby.
I call my story Winter Love.
|A Hartman gathering.|
Just some of my kids and grandkids.
Love comes in seasons. In the spring, you're young and hearts race and passions run high. I married my first husband, Ken, when I was eighteen. We were high school sweethearts. He was an ornery man who took me to hot wire a bulldozer on our first date.
We enjoyed a wonderful summer. We bought a big two-story house on a quiet street in a small town where we raised our five kids. I have so many wonderful memories of my family in that house. The huge lilac bush out front where we'd take the kids prom pictures was one of my favorite spots. There was also the banister in the living room. The kids used it to slide down, I'd use it to decorate for Christmases year after year. I can still see my kids, as little ones, poking their faces through the spindles taking peeks for Santa.
It was a good time. A happy time. It was so much fun, it was easy to fool myself into believing those long, light-filled days would never come to an end.
|Lisa, Elizabeth, Cathy, and Dennis|
Summer was over, but fall has its own beauty.
Our fall was filled with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our house was quiet (and clean!) between their visits, but they'd all return and we'd enjoy holidays, gatherings, and vacations together.
It was a good time, but winter always comes. No matter how much a body loves a longer day with more sunshine, the shorter, darker days do come.
My winter started when I lost my son, Ken, to cancer. Losing a child creates a hole so large, you feel like you can lose yourself in it.But somewhere in that grief, you remember you have other people who are grieving, other people who need you.
Just as life was settling back into a new pattern, my husband's cancer returned, and he passed away. Ken was more than my husband. He was my best friend. We'd grown up together. We'd suffered the worst loss together. I wasn't sure if I could, or even wanted to do this life alone. I was living in a dark world, driving my kids crazy. I knew I was wearing them out, but no matter how much I tried to talk myself into grabbing some boot straps, I just couldn't.
My kids tried to pick me up and brush me off, but I felt useless. I knew, if I didn't do something to change my life, I'd lose my kids. Either they'd resent me, or I'd wear out the ones who were trying to help me.
I was lonely.
When you've been happily married for 50+ years, you know too well
|My first husband, Ken|
This fella from Alaska caught my eye. His profile picture was of him with his grandkids. That gave him instant high marks. His answers to the questions on the dating site were direct and funny. More bonus points. There was nothing pretentious about this man. I found a winner!
His name was Frank. We started emailing each other. Then we exchanged phone numbers, and we'd call each other and chat. It felt nice to have someone to talk to. Frank would call me the same time every single day. Pretty soon, I was watching the clock, anxious for the phone to ring. Just hearing the smile in his voice made me feel like a massive weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Then Frank told me he had to have surgery on his carotid artery. I know from living alone that surgeries are a nuisance. You don't have anyone there to take care of you when you get home. I told Frank I'd come to Alaska and stay with him after the surgery. He liked the idea so well, he asked me if I was willing to come to Alaska, why didn't I just stay there with him, on a permanent basis?
Well, I told him, I'm not that sort of lady. I wouldn't live with a man unless I was married to him. Frank didn't miss a beat. He is a man of solutions. He promptly suggested we get married.
It sounded good to me, though my family wasn't quite as keen on the idea as I was. My little brother was so taken aback by the suggestion, he yelled, "I'll not let some stranger take my sister to a foreign country!" Poor guy. He was so upset, he totally forgot his geography lessons.
Frank wasn't ruffled, though. He was certain he could win my family over. He'd fly to West Virginia in June, meet my family, and then we'd get married.
Then I mentioned one more problem. My one-eyed dog, Jack. Who would take care of him if I left? Chad and Elizabeth bought him for me after Ken died, and the crazy mutt had been my loyal companion ever since.
|Jack didn't like me to leave him, even for a day.|
He went through the screen of an open window and waited until I got home from a doctor's appointment.
Frank said he'd build him a fence around his yard. Jack would be his crazy mutt too.
|Frank and Caroline Miller|
Winter time love birds
The time arrived. Elizabeth and her son, Cole, drove me to the airport, and we went to the gate and waited. In a few short minutes, Frank was there.
Far from ugly, he was a handsome man with a fine laugh. He gave me a kiss, and it didn't feel like kissing a stranger. I was kissing my friend. We married two weeks later, and Jack and I moved to Alaska with him.
We'll be married two years this June. In those two years, we've had good times camping and fishing, and we've had rough times. At our age, health issues come up quickly and have a way of slowing down our fun. But no matter what happens, we face it together.
I know what it's like to be alone. At one time, I felt like there was no light left in the world. I was sure I had nothing to look forward to, but I was wrong. There is light. But when it's winter, the days are shorter and shorter,and you have to learn not to waste a single moment. Frank and I understand time is precious. Every day is a new adventure with my friend, my support, my winter love.
Thanks to Arlee Bird and Guilie Castillo-Oriard for coming up with this blog event. And special thanks to the co-hosts, Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey. and the ever romantic Alex J Cavanaugh. Check out other stories of love lost: