Almost five years ago, on a rainy afternoon, I met a wonderful gentleman "on line." Not the kind associated with computers, but the line waiting for prescriptions at Rite-Aid in Williston Park. Luckily, the man in front of me took quite a while for his transaction.
While waiting, I heard this charming voice in back of me belonging to a man from Garden City named James Bliss, who started a conversation. After I finished my purchase, I started to walk away. He called after me, "When will I ever see you again?" To my surprise, I answered as I walked away, "I'm in the phone book."
James did call and we decided to meet for lunch at Ivy Cottage in Williston Park (now closed). He was a widower, with a son in California and a daughter on Long Island. I had been blessed with a very happy marriage for 57 years until my husband died two years earlier. I also have been blessed with four daughters, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, all living on Long Island. It wasn't easy to explain to them that I was meeting a stranger for lunch. After all, I had a happy life with all of my loved ones around me, am very active in my painting group, garden club and church. I didn't need anything or anyone else in my life.
That lunch was the start of such a sweet and loving romance. We found we loved all the same things -- concerts at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts; touring the arboretums and beaches; trips to New England, Pennsylvania, etc.
We also have attended family weddings and holiday parties together. We treasure each day as a gift and thank God that we both needed those prescriptions at that place and on that day.
The next time you're "on line" and someone with an enchanting voice starts a conversation -- hey, you never know.
New Hyde Park
I WISH MY DEAR WIFE WERE AROUND TO SEE US NOW
In 1969, I was living in Howard Beach. I had just gotten my driver's license and convinced my dad to let me use the family car on a Saturday night. My cousin and I decided to drive to Nathan's in Oceanside to meet a friend who had recently moved to Long Beach. She was going there with some of her new friends. This was when Nathan's occupied a few square blocks and had numerous arcade games, all under heat lamps suspended from the ceiling.
I didn't know it at the time, but that night, I met the girl of my dreams. The next day my friend called me to tell me that this girl really liked me and thought I was cute. She had given me her number. I hadn't called her in the next couple of weeks, and she asked our mutual friend why. I finally called and we went out for dinner in Chinatown when my dad loaned me the car. I drove from Howard Beach to Long Beach to Chinatown back to Long Beach, then home. It was a great evening.
I started to commute on weekends from Howard Beach to Long Beach. I would take the Q41 bus to Jamaica and then the Long Island Rail Road to Long Beach, and then walk. I stayed at another cousin's house and borrowed his wife's car for the weekend. On Sunday night, I made the return trip. I did this until I was able to save enough money for my own car. We saw each other every weekend. Most weekends, we would take her niece to Nunley's on Sunrise Highway.
In 1975, we were married and lived for two years in Howard Beach: a mistake. In 1977, we decided to move to Southern California, where I had friends. We loved it there and had two beautiful children. My wife was such a beautiful person. In 1984, right after the birth of our second child, my wife of nine years passed away. I was devastated. My son was 5 years old and my daughter was 3 weeks. What was I to do?
I returned to the East Coast to be close to family. We settled in Melville, near relatives. My brother soon moved to Dix Hills from Manhattan, and my parents would come out to visit us all the time. All were a huge help to us.
My dad passed away in 2008, and my mother, who is now 91 with dementia, lives in Melville as well. My relatives, brother and family, and my mom now live within two miles of each other.
I have lived in my home since 1984 and will always remember the last 30 years as being mostly great ones, some ups and downs. The Half Hollow Hills School District knew our history and everyone helped with our situation. My children went on to college and have moved away -- but not too far. My son to West Islip, and my daughter now lives in Rego Park. I have two beautiful grandchildren.
I only wish my wife could have watched us grow. She would have been a wonderful grandmother.