Tag Archives: 1981

Another Love Story

Another Love Story

“There’s no tick-tock on your electric clock,
But still your life runs down”
— Harry Chapin (song: Halfway to Heaven)

The Long Island Expressway is often called by its acronym LIE, and seldom by its assigned number ID: I-495.  It is also often called the Long Island Distress-way, a tribute to its notorious snarly traffic jams that can go on for miles and miles and several hours each weekday.

Monday through Friday the expressway turns into a slothful snake, slithering on the cold concrete as it stretches from the Queens Midtown Bridge out east to Suffolk County.  Late in the morning and early in the afternoon, the LIE wakes up.  The traffic drops below a volume threshold, and — voila! — cars can often zip along at 65mph (105 kmh), sometimes even with a few car lengths between them.


I have a confession to make.  During my high school and college years, I didn’t like the contemporary popular music as much as I let on.  Sure, I learned the words to many of the more popular songs and was, thereby, able to fit in.  I faked it.

The songs that attracted me were more earthy.  Songs with words that could be understood; songs with words that told stories; songs where the words were more important than the music.  The music was simply the walls upon which murals were painted; murals that told stories of a vast range of “ordinary” people, trying to do their best, survive the world’s vagaries, and just – somehow – get along.

Thirty or forty-five years ago a guy would rather die before admitting that Barry Manilow’s songs about a washed up show girl (Copacabana) or a man who mourns that he is no longer in love (Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again) were his preference.  Include Gordon Lightfoot’s saga of a doomed freight ship (Edmund Fitzgerald).  Or maybe worse, “chick” songs: Judy Collins singing a ballad about someone who did all the right things in life, except the important things (Send in the Clowns), or acknowledging that everything important we think we know about life might be wrong (Both Sides Now).


At lunch hour the LIE offers an enticing route for mid-day errands.  Clients to meet.  Lunch with friends.  Errands to run.  Doctor appointments.  In the summer, pick up or drop off kids at camp, make an early get away to – or late return from – the outer beaches.  Trucks are out making deliveries and pickups.  Noon hour traffic usually zips, but it’s a crap-shoot: sometime it’s a bit tight for 65mph, and – with just one accident, or breakdown, or a little precipitation – it can return to “the Distress-way”, slowing to a sudden and unwelcome complete stop.


Shoot, I even liked some ballads, like Marty Robbins’ cowboy ditty “West Texas town of El Paso” and Simon & Garfunkle’s “The Boxer.”  Among the “story teller” singers and songwriters, by far I liked Harry Chapin the most.  He wrote and arranged his own songs.   His voice was just bad enough that anyone could convince themselves they could sing them.  But the stories — the lyrics — captivated me.

Harry Chapin, Album cover: Heads & Tales

By Chapin’s own admission, he was a delusional dreamer.  His first songs (he often joked) went something along the lines of “If only everyone could hold hands and hum along to the wonderful songs I am singing, the world would be a wonderful place and we’d have peace and friendship and boundless goodwill.”

Born to a musical and theatrical family, Chapin even made a brief yet successful foray into movie making, writing and directing a documentary for which he earned an Academy Award nomination.[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legendary_Champions]

Harry found his stride in music in his own form of ballad, telling stories of life.  His breakthrough song, in 1972, was Taxi, a story about a taxi driver who has lost his life’s dream and purpose — and then, without warning one night, he picks up a fare who turns out to be a former lover needing a ride home.  Her life has also not turned out so well.  They briefly reminisce.  Among his many studies:

  • Sniper – a confused and frustrated young man seeks notoriety ·
  • Better Place to Be – a midnight watchman fills his empty life for one night, and then, maybe, for the rest of his life. ·
  • WOLD – a washed up DJ is still trying to make something of his life and career
  • Mr Tanner – A dry-clean shop owner with a talent for singing ·
  • Corey’s Coming – an aged railroad worker still hangs out at the rail yard
  • What Made America Famous – Hippies living in a communal hovel survive the scare of a life [which he also wrote into a full length musical play,The Night that Made America Famous; it ran a full season at the Ethel Barrymore Theater in Manhatten]
  • Dance Band on the Titanic – title tells it all
  • 30,000 Pounds of Bananas – a young truck driver negotiates the hills of eastern Pennsylvania
  • Dogtown – Life in the old whaling town of Gloucester, MA ·
  • Mail Order Annie – Life on the North Dakota Plains
  • Vacancy – A Motel Keeper’s Life
  • Six String Orchestra — Harry makes fun of his guitar abilities
  • Tangled up Puppet — A father’s love for his daughter is clouded by the mystery of transition from young girl to young woman

It was in telling the stories of simple salt-of-the-earth people’s lives that Harry made his mark, but it took a while before he made it really big.  Most of his good songs were quite long, six to ten minutes.  That makes good concert material, but doesn’t get you on the radio. After a few years, with the help of his wife, Sandy, he finally made it really big.

Sandy had already been in an unhappy marriage and divorced with three children – and nine year Harry’s elder – when they met.  [Of course, Chapin adapted their meeting and falling in love to a song: I Want to Learn a Love Song]. When they married, Chapin adopted her children and became the loving father that they never had.

The Chapins’ marriage and coming together as a family began a happy story just as it ended a sad story for Sandy — a sad story she wrote into a poem … and Harry turned into a song.  All at once the story describes both the relationship between her first husband and his father, as well as the relationship between her first husband and her children.  The song was poignant, touching and of the right length, under four minutes.  Harry had his only #1 hit with Cat’s in the Cradle.  Now he wasn’t just famous and well off, he had a substantial cash flow.


There is a lot to do to set up a benefit concert.  Especially when you have to — okay, maybe when you insist on — doing most of it yourself.  Better leave plenty of time, just in case the LIE gets all jugged up.  After a few hasty phone calls and a quick check to make sure that the contracts, music and guitars are all packed – oh, and a fast food lunch – it’s time to hit the road.  The LIE is remarkably smooth.  To heck with that silly 55mph speed limit, 65 is plenty safe.  And besides, the oil crises are long over.


Born exactly one year after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, perhaps Harry Foster Chapin was destined to great things. He surely had great visions. Great aspirations. Harry was out to change the world. He received a commission to the Air Force Academy. But he dropped out: the military was certainly not his style. He transferred to Colgate in his home state of New York to study music and theater, through which he — of course — intended to change the world. He soon learned it wasn’t so easy. When his music couldn’t change the world, he figured out another way: he would use the money and notoriety that his musical success provided to change the world.

Among Harry’s many concerns were the inanity and the evil of Hunger.  And not just hunger, but hunger on a global scale.  Harry founded and funded the WHY (World Hunger Year, which is now called Why Hunger … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Hunger_Year).

The foundational beliefs of WHY are: 1) that the world produces every year more food than we can all possibly eat and, yet, people suffer in hunger around the world, and 2) that most causes for hunger are local, and therefore can be solved locally.  But he didn’t just think globally; he also founded the Long Island Food Bank.

Harry was in love with the human race; and wanted to make a huge positive impact.


I saw Chapin in concert only once — at Arkansas State University.  I think it was April, 1977.  He was alone.  Perhaps one of his brothers Tom or Steve came out to do a few songs with him.  He had a rather large band and following at that time, and I wondered why he was mostly alone.  Well, it turns out that by this time most of the concerts Harry did were benefits, usually supporting a combination of local charities (philharmonics, theaters and food banks were often favorites) as well as his world causes.  He was WAY ahead of his time; before FARM-AID and LIVE-AID he was putting together concerts with other save-the-world types like John Denver and Elton John. Turns out he often had a falling out with his band, and they wouldn’t perform with him – sure his causes were great, but they wanted to be paid.  Harry didn’t care about the money and couldn’t figure out why they did.

At least two of his songs were views of his own life.  One an overview: the appropriately named Shooting Star, in which a man lost in his own visions is given meaning to life by his wife.  And another song was a portent: 30,000 lbs of Bananas, in which a young distracted driver must negotiate a potentially deadly situation while driving a truck.


Harry lived fast and hard, always on a mission.  He wrote and performed constantly.  Even with a large income, he gave so much money away that he had no idea how much money he had.  He lived simply, driving a 1975 Volkswagen Rabbit, eating quickly and horribly.  Nonetheless, he had the ear of President Jimmy Carter, and lobbied congress on the president’s behalf to get support and funding for the Commission on World Hunger.


The LIE is really moving now.  Not much farther now.  The concert will be just past the next exit; from there to East Meadow, near Levittown, the humble first post-war planned community — the one that set the model for suburban sprawl.

The 1975 Rabbit has moved to the center lane, preparing to exit soon, as it shoots down the expressway, when — suddenly — it slows from 65 mph to 50, then to 40, then to 30.  The emergency flashers come on.  Cars are whizzing by on both sides.

The driver is trying to make it to the right shoulder.  Something is terribly, terribly wrong.  It slows to 20, then 15 mph.  Is there a chance to slide into the right lane?  No, a car is there and the Rabbit nearly collides with it; the Rabbit’s driver over-reacts, veering to the left.  It hits the car to its left. Careening and over-correcting again, it turns to the right, entering the right lane ahead of an 18-wheel tractor-trailer semi-truck, en route to a delivery at a Long Island supermarket.


<updated> Thirty-six years ago this summer, on a glorious, sunny and beautiful Thursday noon hour, July 16, 1981, Harry Chapin made his way down the LIE, as he had so many times before.  Heck, New York City was his hometown.  Along the way he passed signs and exits (“that he should have seen“) for parks, buildings and humanitarian institutions that would one day bear his name.

He was a man with a big heart and big dreams.  He had spent his adult life giving from his heart, sharing his dreams.  Now, his big heart had little left in it; on that sunny afternoon Harry Chapin had a massive heart attack right there on the LIE, and at that moment it became, truly, a Distress-way.

His car came to a nearly complete stop, directly in front of a grocery store delivery truck.  The truck was unable to stop.  In a cataclysmic collision, the truck not only rammed the tiny Rabbit, it ended up on top of Chapin’s VW Rabbit.  Ironically, he was under a truck carrying 30,000 pounds of groceries. Miraculously, brave passersby, together with the truck driver, were able to extract him from the car, through the window, just before it erupted into an inferno.  To no avail.  Harry left his heart and dreams behind and moved on, aged only 38.


When I heard the news that night, where I lived with two friends in a rented house in West Seattle, I got physically sick.  This was a punch to the gut.  My intestines roiled and their contents emptied out.  As was our custom, when someone famous died, we would have an Irish wake – which meant drinking.  For me it was a drowning of sorrow.  And at that time, I didn’t know the half of it.  I just liked Chapin’s music.  I had no idea of what a big dreamer and doer he was.


I don’t think I would have liked his politics much.  As a dreamer he had the opinion that every problem should be fixed with a big societal toolbox.  He was hanging out with Michael Moore before he was famous, helping keep his little protest-print-shop in Flint, Michigan alive.  I’m sure Harry would be touring the “Occupy” protests, going from city to city, country to country, putting on free concerts and offering encouragement.

But Harry was way better than that.  He didn’t just demand that somebody else, or government, fix problems.  He set out to do it himself.  He poured himself into his beliefs and humanitarian causes.  And THAT I admire.

My lessons from Harry:

  • Life is short, sometimes tragically short.  Get over it.
  • Get a dream and just do it.
  • Tell your stories.  Share your dreams.
  • Be in a bit of a hurry.
  • Enjoy the Music of Life, whatever it sounds like to you.
  • Make no excuses for whatever inspires you, no matter what others may think.
  • Pick causes greater than yourself
  • Listen to your wife


Don’t let this be you:

Oh, I’ve got something inside me —
Not what my life’s about.
I’ve been letting my outside tide me
Over ’til my time runs out

— Harry Chapin (song bridge lyrics: Taxi)

Joe Girard ©November, 2011 (republished, slightly edited ©2017)


(1) this essay’s title “Another Love Story” is derived from the title of Chapin’s Album: Sniper and Other Love Stories.
(2) Long Island Expressway: I don’t know why it is I-495.  The rule is that the first digit (“4”) is supposed to indicate a loop or bypass to the nominal route (I-95).  Not only is it not a loop, it is a spur and doesn’t even formally connect to the I-95.  Those crazy New Yorkers.
(3) Disclosure: “Even though Chapin was driving without a license, his driver’s license having previously been revoked for a long string of traffic violations, his widow Sandy won a $12 million decision in a negligence lawsuit against Super Markets General, the owners of the truck.” — Wikipedia


Joe Girard’s other older essays at essays


Final thoughts: Some choice songs:


Wish I knew, oh baby

At the end of your life you will groan,
    when your flesh and body are spent.
You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    How my heart spurned correction!
I would not obey my teachers
    or turn my ear to my instructors.
And I was soon in serious trouble …”
—Proverbs 5: 11-14

The 1973 song “Ooh, La, La” by the British rock group Faces has been covered many times, and gets

Folder of Folderol

resurrected from time to time in pop culture by inclusion in movies, TV shows and commercials. [1] No surprise, I suppose, since — in short select snippets — it has a pretty upbeat melody and palatable message:

“I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger.
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger.”
— Faces, 1973 (Lyrics by Ronnie Lane & Ronnie Wood)

In reality the song is bitter-sweet at best, its balance consisting of regret, remorse and wistfulness.  It’s actually part of a big club; there’s a pretty substantial list of songs that sound pleasant yet can pain one’s heart when you listen carefully — or read the lyrics.

Consider Abba’s “Mama Mia”, the Spinners’ “I’ll be Around”, The Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes” and Elvis Costello’s “Allison.” Or even previously mentioned “Happy Anniversary, Baby.” These all come off OK as elevator music and even party music; but they all have a bittersweet and even dark side.[2]

I suppose Rod Stewart might want to have known in 1973 what he learned a few years later.  When Faces cut their last album “Ooh, La, La” with the eponymously named single, well, Sir Stewart already had a very large and growing personal music career outside of Faces, even though he was also simultaneously lead singer for Faces for most songs.

Stewart and Faces were already falling out when he decided that “Ooh, La, La” was a crappy song and beneath his dignity.  It would never go anywhere.  Or so he thought. The producer insisted it stay on the album, and convinced co-writer Ronnie Wood to do the lead vocals.

The song was a winner, and has been ever since. It reached #1 in the UK, and #21 in the US.  Stewart finally covered the song himself in 1998, and his raspy voice is often associated with it, although “Woody” did the original and classic version.

Simply read the lyrics and the song’s meaning is fairly clear, although open to some interpretation, as all good works of art are.  My interpretation: a man is reflecting back on a chat session with his grandfather from very long ago.  Grandpa seems bitter and gives him only a few hints about women, perhaps as a metaphor for life.  Then gramps sort of stops and says something like: “oh, you won’t really listen anyhow. You’ll just have to go out and learn by yourself.  I was the same way.  Good luck with that. Be prepared.  It will probably hurt.”

And then the man reflects: … wish I knew then what I know now … now that I’m older.

It is an old message. An old story. See Proverbs.


I’m going through a lot of old “crap” that we’ve saved over the decades.  This is partly to simplify my life, partly to make it easier for our kids when we move on, and partly to refresh some memories.

A few weeks ago I came across a sheet of paper that staggered me. Notes I’d made to myself a very long time ago.

I’ll try to shorten the backstory. But from 1969 to 1979 I was practically illiterate.  Turns out that I had a rare form of epilepsy that, among other things, made it almost impossible to read intently for more than a few minutes at a time.  I just learned to fake it, listen closely in class, and passed all my courses, although I recall “earning” a grade of D in one high school literature class.  Mercy was in play. I tried to hang around the smarter kids in lit classes (usually girls) … if and when they would put up with my stuttering and facial ticks.

Coming out of grad school in late 1980, now treated with medication, I was determined to catch up.  I read everything I could. Motivation? I felt culturally lost.  I stayed up very late on many nights. Went through piles of books.

I picked up a faddish book of the time: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I really struggled with that book.  What a waste of time. Or so I thought.

Several months later, in November of 1981 {when I thought there was still a chance with Miss Summer of ’81 (See Happy Anniversary, Baby)} I spent many hours in deep reflection and self observation. Revelation: Clearly  Joe, you have some problems.  But, what are they? And what would motivate me to dig critically deep and make some changes?

I scribbled some motivation.  Growing old together.  Just time at the mall, or on a beach. Sledding after a surprise snowstorm. Or lingering over a morning cup of coffee.

Now, dig Joe.  Dig down where it hurts. For some reason some paragraphs from “Zen” came back to me.  I went back to the book.

There is a section in “Zen” on Gumption Traps worthy of review.  I copied some sentences. Then, as memory becomes clearer, I spent hours and days thinking about them.  How could they be expanded and applied?

I really wanted to be worthy. In “Zen’s” words: exhibit Quality.

The Gumption lessons apply mostly to setbacks and struggles. Now slightly expanded, slightly edited and made more blunt by time, these can be simplified to:

  1. Develop patience and fortitude — the good things in life are worth waiting and working for.
  2. When there is a conflict or a setback: step back, mentally slowly walk 360 degrees around the issue to consider all points of view. (i.e. eliminate “rigid thinking“).
  3. Be open to the possibility that others have a good reason (to them) for why they do what they do.
  4. Make yourself a subject of study.  Especially: Know your weaknesses and personality flaws. Then: manage your life and behavior appropriately. If you think you have no serious flaws and weakness — then pride is the first one to identify.
  5. Seek and accept counsel of elders.
  6. Be creative in finding things to be grateful for; and be creative in expressing gratitude.

[* By the way, most of these lessons were in play while courting the wonderful Miss Audrey soon thereafter, although I wasn’t a very good student

** I’ve always thought about the topic of candor, but haven’t included it.  I’ll just say every relationship needs it, and from the beginning.  Too much, too soon is dangerous. And too little too late is dangerous too; in fact, catastrophic.  Be careful out there.  It’s a timing thing.]

Portion of “Notes to Self”, mid-November, 1981

Sad, I suppose, but I have to keep re-learning all of these.  I had only a vague recollection of even writing them down. I had stuffed them in a box with a bunch of other notes of folderol I was accumulating from all that reading.

I nearly wept upon finding them and the decades of memories they brought.  How … could … I … always … be … so … dense?

And … of course … my wonderful mother had been telling me all of these lessons since my earliest memories.

Guess I’m just like the old proverbs, stories and songs: You’ll just have to go through life and learn it on your own. And oh, it will often hurt.

Q: “What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?”

A: “Now they must learn from one another …
Day by day”

— Tevye asks; Golda replies. From the  song Sunrise, Sunset, from  Fiddler on the Roof.

I’m also going through piles of stuff from my parents that have been haunting me in the years since they’ve moved on.  Time to thin all this down too, for the same reason: our kids shouldn’t have to do this.

Came across one more gem from my mom’s collection of notes.

Be nicer to everyone than necessary — nearly everyone is fighting some kind of battle.

It’s now my tagline. The only really significant regrets I have are that I’ve hurt others.

Wishing you all peace and strength in dealing with your battles and foibles.


Joe Girard © 2017


(1) “Ooh La La” has been featured in the following movies: Rushmore (1998); Without a Paddle (2004).  In the following TV series: Grass (2003); Blackpool (2004), Entourage (HBO) and Californication.  It’s also been used by Nike in a 2005 commercial that used images of a very young Tiger Woods playing golf.

(2) Some insightful lyrics [I’ve added the words in brackets that I think can be inferred]
Mama Mia:
“Look at me now, will I ever learn?
I don’t know how but I suddenly lose control
“Yes, I’ve been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
[Oh] Why, why did I ever let you go?”

What a Fool Believes
“The sentimental fool don’t see.
Tryin’ hard to recreate what had yet to be created”

No wise man has the power to reason away … [what a fool believes he sees]”

“Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
when I hear the silly things that you say.”

Oh, Alison, my aim is true.”

I’ll Be Around
“You made your choice, now it’s up to me
To bow out gracefully

and yet …

“Whenever you call me, I’ll be there
Whenever you want me, I’ll be there”

Happy Anniversary Baby
“…when I look back baby
…look back to what we had.
And I know I’m countin’ good times,
But there were just as many bad.”




Happy Anniversary, Baby

Ah, June 27. A baring of one’s soul.

Happy anniversary baby.
Got you on my mind. [1]
— Little River Band

Riff-raff: people, or a group of people, regarded as disreputable or worthless

As the date approaches each year, decade after decade, memories flood back. The good, and the not so good. The joys. The pain. Then the date itself: the crescendo.  Eventually, the waves break. [2]

Since the car crash and brain injury I’m still prone to extraordinary periods of insomnia … and lingering headaches. I try mediation and acceptance, which now seem to be the only treatments worth attempting. This often drifts off to periods of contemplation, and almost as often drift further to what I call “Existential Contemplation.”

One consequence of this contemplation is that I have replayed much of my life in greater detail than ever before. I’ve made a long list, dragging up instances of gratitude not shown, apologies not given, friends lost to the winds of fate whom I’ve lost contact with. I’ve directly attempted to fix a lot of this. Often I’ve succeeded.

Another consequence: the summers of 1981 and ’82 come back more clearly, more joyously, — and sometimes more painfully — than before. The summer of ’82 consisted mostly of the courtship of the wonderful Miss Audrey. Success! We wed the next summer.

With absolutely no lack of respect or admiration for my wife … The summer of ’81 started for me on June 27, when the most remarkable and dazzingly beautiful young lady who ever spent more than one minute in conversation with me (in my life as a single man) fell out of heaven and — quite literally — into my lap.

Of course I noticed the wedding ring she sported from a distance; I noticed it well before we chatted that one minute. Men don’t have to be taught to look for details like that.

As chit-chat turned to flirtation (why did she fixate on “ME?”) I asked about the ring. She said: “Oh, that’s my grandmother’s. I wear it to keep the riff-raff away.” Then she pantomimed “oops” with her mouth and shoulders, while simultaneously, deftly, moving the ring over to her right hand.

After a simply wonderful hot summer that went suddenly very cool, as I recall, right around Labor Day [3] — out of respect I will spare you the details; perhaps teasers in a later essay — well, it didn’t work out.

[3] Seattle had a most glorious and warm summer in ’81.  In Late July a heat wave hit, and several more arrived, lasting on and off until just after Labor Day.  For five days in August, the mercury hit 100F, and more, in many places in the metro area.  Although things turned cool, the faux courtship lasted — on and off — another several ambiguous and agonizing months. Quite the coincidental parallel.

Thanks to two goddesses — one a healing therapist, the other my patient wife — I’ve finally after 36 years come to a reasonable peace with that long-ago wonderful adventure of ’81. The adventure that ended awkwardly and a bit painfully.  Last night, again thanks to them, I worked up the courage to find – and go through – some old cards and letters. These were items I knew that I had kept — somewhere — fearing to touch, or even search for, these many decades.

I’m so glad I did.  Although the collection is clearly incomplete (for example, I have no copies of what I sent her; only her references to them), it shows that I treated her  better than the lies my recollection was telling me. I really was a good person. What a relief. Certainly not perfect; I admit to missing some growth opportunities.

Here is what I’ve learned, about matters of love and the heart.  What I would share with any and every searching young single person. Some things that no one, not my parents, not anyone, ever told me explicitly.

  1. Sometimes the man does not get the woman.  But, he can always deserve to win her. [4]

  2. In relationships, timing is critical.  Even the “perfect” match might not work out if party XX is not quite yet ready for party XY. There’s no shame for either XX or XY.

  3. These matters are subject to many unexplainable vagaries of the universe. That implies pain … which leads to 4 and 5:

  4. Forgive yourself and your potential mate. To do this:

  5. Focus on on what you’ve both done right, not the outcome.

[of course XX/XY and man/woman can be plugged into each slot].

Epilogue 1. I looked up Miss Summer of ’81 and reached out to her. She was difficult to locate; maintains a very low internet profile. [Updated: 7/18/2017]. We are now in light email contact.  I call this a “repair.” [5]

Epilogue 2. Last year my wife asked me if she could join her grandmother’s wedding ring to the one I slipped onto her finger back in wonderful 1983. Of course she could.  Most certainly.

Her grandmother’s wedding ring is on her left hand ring finger.

I am not riff-raff.  Never, ever was.


Joe Girard © 2017


(1) “Happy Anniversary, Baby” is a wistful song by Little River Band about a lost love that can’t be forgotten. Feelings well up on their anniversary… probably the anniversary of the breakup, unlike this short bio story, which is on the beginning.

(2) I do not contend that I am the only one who suffered pain.  Nor that I did not cause pain … through my neglect and thoughtfulness.

(4) I do not contend that I “deserved” Miss ’81.  Only that I tried to.  Sometimes seems like the harder you try, the more you fail. <Sigh>

(5) Since connecting I’ve re-learned that she is a good woman. Devoted mother and wife.  Still dazzling. Absolutely no surprise there. The aforementioned wedding ring has been on her right hand pretty much ever since I met her.  Until spring, 2017.  That ring was then given to her daughter and sent to a jeweler.  It is now joined with Miss ’81’s mom’s ring for the occasion of her daughter’s wedding (September, 2017) — both integrated together into one wedding ring — to adorn her left hand ring finger for many decades.