Winter Love

6:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 83 Comments


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
In the fall of our lives, Ken and I said good-bye to our kids as they emptied the nest. Our oldest, Cathy married and moved south. Then went her sister, Lisa, to the Navy and then onto marriage. Same with Ken Jr., he joined the Navy and then took a very circuitous path (that's a mom's polite way of saying he was a turd for several years!)to marriage and kids. Then Dennis went onto the Army and marriage. Lastly, was our baby, Elizabeth, who went onto college and then married the guy I personally picked out for her (you're welcome, Chad). 

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. 
Ken, Jr. 

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
what you're missing when you suddenly have no companion. No amount of visits from my kids or grandkids was going to replace what I lost. I didn't like being alone. I was used to being part of a team. I explained this to my daughter, Lisa, and she quickly decided I should join eHarmony. I thought she was crazy, but before I knew it, I had men interested. In me! A seventy-five-year-old grandma. 


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 night before I met Frank, he warned me he wasn't an attractive man. I warned him I was fat. Suddenly, I was nervous. What if he stepped off that plane, and I did think he was ugly? What if he saw me and wanted to run the other way?

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: 




83 comments:

  1. Caroline, glad you found someone to share your life with. You had a life filled with love and family and now your second adventure is just beginning.

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  2. Wonderful story. So glad you found happiness with Frank and I hope your winter isn't too short.

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    1. I'll have to teach mom how to comment on a blog! She'll love all the well wishes.

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  3. What a great story! I'm sharing it because I believe this is one many men and women who are in the same place as you were, Caroline, will be given hope for the future. Very inspiring. Great topic for your blog, Elizabeth!

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    1. Thanks for sharing <3

      I'm a big believer in hope, without it- what do we have? And as long as we are alive, we have to keep living.

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  4. I love your story of Wintertime love, and love in all the seasons. You've had a wonderful life, and continue to live it to the fullest. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Mary at Play off the Page

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    1. Sometimes, as a person's child, we forget they're also human. I'll admit, I was in not so certain about my elderly mother moving to Alaska! But it has worked out great and I'm so happy my mom is happy.

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  5. That was a wonderful story! So glad you were able to find your winter love.

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    1. I'm glad she did too. I honestly don't think I'd have had a mom much longer if she hadn't found some happiness. A person can only have so much heart ache before it wears them down.

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  6. What a wonderful story. Here's to a long winter with a lot of snuggling warmth!

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    1. Not too much snuggling...this is my mom we're talking about. LOL

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  7. Such a lovely story. Thank you for sharing this. Full of hope and we all need a little hope on this journey of life, with it's love's lost and found! Beautiful!
    I wish you and Frank continued happiness!

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  8. Stupid allergy to onions making my eyes all watery! :)

    Seriously, what a great love story! This really did make me teary-eyed with a bit a of sadness but so much more with happiness too. Thank you so much for sharing it with us Ms. Caroline. And thank you for hosting Elizabeth.

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    1. I hate it when those onions do that!

      My pleasure to host. I can't wait to read all the posts :)

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  9. Elizabeth, your mom is da bomb, if I may use the youngster's slang. This was funny, sad, and showed what a brave woman your mother is. That picture of the dog on the roof--priceless!

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    1. Your youngster slang is welcome here. :)

      Isn't Jack awesome? I told mom I was going to miss him as much as her. I'm such a bad daughter.

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  10. Awesome story indeed. Had to laugh at the foreign country remark haha

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    1. That was priceless. We were all a little shocked. It's not your average love story.

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  11. So, so sweet! I love this! My mom remarried too after Dad died, but she was only in her 50's when he passed, so she had a long LONG time ahead of her to be alone. Even then, her second husband had to court her for a good 4 years before she said yes. I'm glad she did. Life only gets better with more people to love.

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    1. You're right. I was lucky to have my dad as long as I did. Many people don't get the privilege. And once I came to terms with the idea that Frank will not try to replace my dad- I realized we have a new ally and friend in our family.

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  12. A wonderful story of joy and sadness, with such a beautiful ending. Elizabeth's Mom, it's nice to meet you :-)

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    1. I need to figure out a way to get her to be able to comment. Teaching my mom to do things on the computer is NOT easy. We had to go snail mail doc to share her story.

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  13. That is such a sweet story! I'm so happy you found love again. :)

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  14. That was one of the best love stories I've ever read.

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    1. I suppose now Mom will want to be the writer in the family, LOL.

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  15. I adore your mom!!! She is so amazing to come over and share such wonderful and tragic stories of family. Love you Caroline!!! You raised a pretty stellar family ;)

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    1. You're so right. I mean raising me is enough stellarness for anyone, right? ;)

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  16. Elizabeth, I can't believe I've been reading your blog for so long. I remember you mentioning your mom was leaving to get married in Alaska... two years ago?!?!?

    Caroline, This is an excellent reminder to go after that which is important to you. As someone who hasn't been successful in the Love Department, I tend to get a bit too contented when I'm not in a relationship and can stay there a long time. However, I do learn something each go round, so I do think the next one will be better (because I'm more discerning). However, do I really want to let the next twenty years slide by and then go after it... or maybe try a little sooner??????

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    1. We now qualify as old friends, Robin! I'm so glad you've been reading for so long :)

      I say you follow your heart. If it says move ahead, then start looking. I think looking for a love from a place of contentment is the best way to look. That way you're less likely to make mistakes. I always told my husband- I don't need him to be around; I wanted him around.

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  17. What a wonderful story, both happy and sad...but I'm very glad you got a happy ending! I giggled at the 'foreign country' part, by the way. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It was new to me too. My mom never told me my uncle said that, but I'm not surprised. We were all skeptical, but only because we love her and didn't want her hurt.

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  18. A powerful message, beautiful and bittersweet compacted into a short post. That was a lot of life along with some sad loss. I hope there are many more years to this story. So poetic this message of "winter love". Thank you for your wonderful story.

    And Elizabeth thank you for helping us make this blog event a great success.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. It was my pleasure! Thanks so much for inviting me.

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  19. What a wonderful wonderful story. I've been married nearly fifty years, and I can't bear the thought of losing him, so I have an inkling of how hard it must have been for you. I'm beyond thrilled that you have a new love, no matter what the season. It may be winter, but we still have a lot of living left to do.

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    1. Susan, I'm thinking your profile picture must be twenty years old. You look way too young to be celebrating 50 years together! I totally agree that we have to keep living.

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  20. Such a heartwarming (albeit wrenching at some points) story! I feel fortunate just having had the pleasure of reading it:-) Would that we all could know the wonder of the seasons and serenity of a winter love.

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    1. I think we have to somehow find the wonder. I sometimes think of all that happened to my family and my mother in those winter years, and I'll feel flattened. I couldn't imagine how hard it was on my mom.

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  21. Beautiful story, thanks for sharing. I'm so grateful for second chances.

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    1. Sometimes a fresh start is the best way to go.

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  22. I am so overwhelmed with emotion right now. Liz you've always been a cool gal but your mother is a real trooper and believer of true love. Hugs for you both.

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    1. You know I love ya Sheena-kay. You're one cool gal too.

      My mother is a true dreamer. I can thank her for teaching me to think outside of the box and reach for stars.

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  23. What a wonderful love story Caroline! And you made me laugh too. I'm so glad you found love for a second time. That's rare to have two great loves. You are a blessed woman.
    Thanks for sharing your mom with us Elizabeth! What a delight.

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  24. What a touching story! I think all of us can find hope in knowing that we could find love again if we lost our spouses. I met my husband on an online dating site--it's amazing how it can bring two people together! And she gets to live in a new part of the country!

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    1. I have met some of my best friends online. It's just a great way to connect with like-minded people.

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  25. Elizabeth, your mom is such a lovely soul. And so is Jack. And Frank. I am so thankful your mom found happiness. And Alaska. :-) Please give this family our love. xoxo

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    1. That Jack is the best. LOL. Just kidding- Mom and Frank are pretty awesome too.

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  26. That was the most heartwarming story I've read all day. I'm so happy for your mother, Elizabeth.

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    1. I'm happy for her too. I hated seeing her so sad. I will always appreciate Frank for bringing my happy mom back. We all miss my dad and my brother, but tears can't bring them back.

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  27. Hi, Elizabeth, Hi, Caroline...

    What a LOVELY story.... It warms my heart to know that no matter what age a person turns, LOVE is always there for them if they want it....

    Congrats to the two of you... may you enjoy each day with love and happiness.

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  28. An absolutely beautiful story. I'm so glad your Mom could share in this bloghop!!

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    1. It was fun. I'll have to make her write some more.

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  29. What a fantastic story. It really warmed the cockles of my heart and made me believe again that there must be some where out there for me.

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    1. I believe there is someone and somewhere for all of us. We just have to be ready to make the leap. Good luck! I hope you find your blessing.

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  30. A heart-warming, inspirational love story beautifully told. Many congratulations to your mum for finding her winter love.

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  31. It is so wonderful to let us share your Mom's happiness. Frank certainly had decided early that she is for him. Great story Elizabeth!

    Hank
    PS Had earlier on tweeted but not sure if you'll get it (he reason for this second comment)

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    1. Yes, they did decide quickly- both of them. It almost gave me whiplash!

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  32. This was a really lovely post to read, most enjoyable.
    Yvonne.

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  33. What a special love story!
    I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Thank you for sharing, Liz.

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  34. Oh, what a sweet tale. It was fun to go through. So hard to lose a son though--that would be the very hardest loss of all, I think.

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    1. I can't even imagine and never, ever want to know what it's like.

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  35. Awwww, that's a sweet tale. My grandma had a friend that lived with her. Naturally, we weren't sure about him, but it made her happy and he was a nice guy. He passed away and my grandma went back to living alone. Now, she lives with my aunt because her health issues means she can't live alone.

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    1. We were hesitant too. It all happened so fast, and we knew nothing of Frank. My son had to remind me Grandma was an adult. Sorry to hear about your grandma's friend passing.

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  36. Elizabeth, far and away the best idea for a post! You have an amazing family. The only thing missing are pizza pies from a reputable Italian restaurant.

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    1. I do love pizza , even from non-reputable places. LOL.

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  37. I love your mom's story. She's a gifted writer. Love how she pulled me in. I felt sad, glad and I laughed. Loved it.

    Good choice for a love story, on your part.

    Teresa

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    1. She is very gifted. She's a born dreamer with a very creative spirit.

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  38. Such a beautiful love story. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

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  39. What a beautiful story and kudos for taking a chance!

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  40. Hot wiring bulldozers, siding down banisters, dogs on roofs. Fun post.

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  41. Sorry I'm so late getting here. My employment schedule has me working 12.5 hour days every Monday through Wednesday (37.5 hours in 3 days), which leaves me no time for anything until Thursdays, when I begin my 4-days "off" from work.

    This was a neat story! I'm glad things turned out so well.

    Hot-wiring a bulldozer on the first date... nothing like a very traditional first date to get things off to a good start. Ha!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  42. This might be the best post on the Lost & Found I've read... And I've read some seriously excellent ones. WOW! Caroline, you are one classy—and very talented!—lady. Elizabeth, your mom vouches for you in ways you can't imagine. I'm so happy to have met you, both of you, and especially to have done so through this story of loss and love and hope. I love the voice of the telling. I love the simple way a whole family—and whole lives—come through in the story without any intentional (I mean forced) description. Really, truly excellent.

    Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for co-hosting the hop with us! (And for making your mom a part of it, too!) I'll be coming back for more :)
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

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  43. This is a beautiful, heartwarming post. There will always be ups after the downs. Family, friendship, and love will always be there for us.

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