1: LONELY HEART
“I felt bad for trying to live a happy, full life, while my heart was buried in a dead man’s chest.” – Kristen Hope Mazzola, Crashing Back Down
I loved my rings and safely tucked them away after I became a widow. My daughter suggested resetting them into a necklace. No way! My rings held a special place in my heart because of the way Buddy bought them for me—I’d never change a thing.
My late husband, Buddy, called me Angel Face for over thirty-two years—although an angel I was not. Then the ugly spectre of death invaded us, ripped through our lives, and tore my world to pieces. The love of my life disappeared from my arms into the arms of a real angel. His death left a mark on my heart, his ring left a mark on my hand.
Our search began at a local jewelry store. One set seemed perfect. The engagement ring was gold with one large diamond in the center and a smaller diamond on each side. The gold wedding band had three matching diamonds, equally spaced. All the same, when I glanced at the price, I quickly gave them back to the sales clerk.
“We’ll look someplace else later,” I whispered to Buddy.
The next day, when I opened the door to greet him, he was all smiles, so handsome in his tan suede jacket, with that sexy brown wave in his hair.
“Wow,” I said, “you look sharp, just like James Dean himself.”
Buddy bent down on one knee and opened a box he pulled out of his pocket. I was amazed. Sparkling like a thousand stars, the set of rings I had loved.
He was always full of surprises. Humor was the quality I missed most. We had laughed together and held each other through heaps of hard times.
A few months later I moved in with my daughter, Lynn and her husband, Alan. They worried about me living alone in my house on forty acres. I was grateful for their invitation. They had converted their downstairs into an apartment, and it suited all my needs. Before I moved in with them, I auctioned off my excess stuff, and a 28-foot Mayflower moving van put the rest in storage. The Realtor placed a for sale sign on my property.
Lynn and Alan made me comfortable, although I felt in the way. I wondered if I’d ever enjoy love again, especially since I qualified for A.A.R.P.. I didn’t consider myself old. Lynn’s full length mirror proved that my daily walks maintained the right weight for my height.
Slowly, my grief over Buddy’s death healed.
I became preoccupied with finding someone special to share life with—a man to love and laugh with after the parties ended. Thoughts on Internet Dating crept through my mind. My three kids didn’t approve.
“Mom, predators and psychos troll the dating sites.”
“People can say anything. You never know who’s hiding behind the computer.”
“You’re an easy target.”
The long days of winter were over. As usual, it brought a freshness of life with buds on trees, green shoots popping through the earth, and the fragrance of spring in the air. I raised my eyes from the computer and glanced out the window. A bluebird flew by scouting for a mate. Life and love start anew. When I could no longer resist the urge, I uploaded my profile to a few dating sites. My headline flashed across the top, beside my picture.
“Hopeful Heart, Looking For Honest Guy.”
I hoped my smiling face and sparkling profile would bring responses. A couple of friends said I favored Helen Mirren with my shoulder length, naturally wavy hair. With any success, the resemblance would at least snag a guy’s attention.
As I read through the men’s profiles, I noticed that a few old geezers were looking for cooks and maids. Even though cooking is one of my passions, I didn’t want a potential match knowing this until his intentions were clear. I wanted a relationship, not a job.
I awaited a response.
However, finding a suitable man was much harder than I expected. A few guys replied, but nothing clicked. I mean, if a guy wanted any woman between nineteen and ninety-nine, well, he wasn’t particular enough for my needs. After four months, I had reached the point of putting my search to rest.
I wondered. Should I remove my profile and be done with it? Am I meant to live the rest of my life alone?
One by one, I started deleting them. On my way to the last dating site, an email from the administrator flashed on my screen.
“Hi Wanda—Lanny sent you a smile. Pick up your smile now or log in to read his profile.”
Curiosity won. I logged in to the dating site and clicked on, “Get My Smile.”
His name was Lanny, and his tiny picture appeared decent. From what I could make out of the one inch head shot, he looked almost bald—except for gray hair at his temples. He had a full, gray mustache and wore large-rimmed, tan glasses. “May I instant message you?” he wrote. “I’d like to get to know you better.”
I pulled up his profile. The first sentence stated that he loved the Lord. He’d been saved since age fourteen. My relationship with the Lord began at age twenty-eight. Finding a Christian match was my top priority. Sudden negative thoughts dampened my spirits.
Don’t get too excited. Lots of guys call themselves Christians on dating sites. Still, when they answer the question of how often they attend church, most of them check “Never.”
I read on.
Lanny’s profile stated that he enjoyed going to worship every week, and he read his Bible daily. He even sang in the church choir and belonged to a traveling gospel group. Sitting beside a man in church and sharing a songbook topped my list of favorite Sunday activities. I scanned for his age—we were both sixty—another plus for him. The mirror to the left of my desk reflected my wide smile. Could Lanny be the one?
As I read on, I learned that we shared broken hearts. He’d lost his wife to cancer two years prior, only two months after I had lost Buddy. My heart felt warm and fuzzy about him, until I read the next line. The gulp of hot chocolate in my mouth spewed everywhere in a coughing fit.
He lived in Ohio—almost 500 miles away. A relationship wouldn’t work, unless he didn’t mind driving the distance. I figured the connection was over before it even began. With my index finger poised over the delete button, I leaned in to remove his profile, when something caught my eye.
Humor was a huge factor in Lanny’s favor, but how could we overcome the distance barrier?
Lynn hollered down the stairs, “Mom, would you like a bowl of butter-pecan ice cream before bed?”
Bed? The time had raced by. I struggled to pull myself away from Lanny’s profile, but couldn’t help wondering. “I’ll be up in a minute.”
Lanny claimed his past relationships taught him that honesty, kindness, and taking things slowly were the best ways to go. His profile contained tons of the qualities I desired in a man. He also came across as intelligent, and that ranked high on my list. In fact, the more I read his profile, the more I longed to connect with him, but I wanted to pray about it overnight before answering.
My feet almost skipped up the stairs. Lynn asked if I found anyone on the dating sites. “Maybe,” I said coyly. I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure.
Lynn watched me eating ice cream. “You seem happier than usual, Mom.”
My nonstop chattering must have given me away. “I guess it’s fun communicating on the dating sites.”
First thing the next morning, while still in my robe, I booted up my bedside computer and pulled out my padded office chair. As I sank into the comfortable cushion, I realized my comfort zone was about to sink into the unknown. Nevertheless, time is a thief, and it wasn’t raining men, so I continued.
An email from the dating site popped across the screen. “Hi, Wanda—Lanny sent you a smile.” I logged in and found three more messages from him. They all read the same way. “I liked your profile. May I instant message you? I’d like to get to know you better.”
Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. I’d never used instant message. My typing ability consisted of two fingers poking around for letters and numbers.
I sent a return smile. “Good morning. I would like to get to know you better, too. I’m not one for instant messaging, though. I’d rather pray about it first and send emails through the dating site, if you’re still interested. Have an awesome and blessed day.”
“Okay,” he wrote, “if you’re more comfortable with email through the site, that’s fine with me. Yes, I’m interested.”
Within seconds, the dating site sent me a message saying, “Click Alert! You Both Said Yes! What are you waiting for? Log in to start a conversation.” Before I had a chance, another email from the dating site appeared. “Lanny sent you a card.”
The card had a picture of a yellow mug with a smiley face. “Thank you for making me smile. I would like to get to know you better. Here’s my email address. Take care and God bless you, Lanny.”
With baited breath, I typed my first message.
“Hi, Lanny, thanks for the cards and smiles. I see you’re an early riser. I’m a morning person, too. I enjoyed reading your profile. It’s a pleasure finding a man who loves the Lord.” I took a deep breath and with my hand on the mouse, I clicked “send.”
Chapter 1 from Wanda’s book, “Lonely Heart Meets Charming Sociopath,” Due to launch in October.