Mars & Venus

Love Story – Viet Nam War …

Posted on May 22, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Searching for Success |

“A Family Reunion,” by Repps Hudson –  a freelance writer and adjunct instructor of journalism and international affairs who lives in University City, Mo.

One day in March 1975, I was covering a story in the Kansas City Power and Light building for The Kansas City Star. But my mind was far away, in South Vietnam, which I knew from constant news reports was under siege as the North Vietnam Army launched its final assault to topple the South Vietnamese regime.


Maps on the evening news showed the northern provinces of South Vietnam turning red as Hanoi’s hardcore troops moved south, rolling through the country that more than 58,000 Americans had died to defend.


I had become so depressed from that drumbeat of news that I walked out onto the fire escape 20-some stories above the Kansas City streets and took a long look over the rail before backing away and deciding to seek psychiatric help.


My worries were personal: My 25-year-old wife, Le thi Nhung, six months pregnant with our first (and only) child, had left Kansas City in October 1974 to return to her family in Vietnam, north of Saigon in Binh Duong Province.


Our marriage was in so much trouble we could not seem to resolve it. The cultural misunderstandings between us were enormous. In great sadness, she had boarded a plane for the West Coast, then on to Saigon, vowing never to return.


We hadn’t agreed to divorce, just to live half a world apart. We hadn’t decided what would happen when it was time for her to give birth in June.


We had met when I was a 21-year-old second lieutenant with the First Infantry Division at our base camp at Lai Khe, on Highway 13, which ran from Saigon north to the Cambodian border. The climate around Lai Khe was unusually cool, and it was one of the best bases in South Vietnam. It was in an old French rubber plantation and had a Vietnamese village inside the perimeter wire.


Nhung was from that village. Her father, a supporter of the South Vietnamese government, had been kidnapped and murdered in the early 1960s by the Vietcong, she believed. She was clearly on the side of the Americans. She  worked in the officers and noncommissioned officers club in our company area. She could speak English and was stunning in her form-fitting ao dai.


Far from my home in a farming community near Kansas City, I was taken by her almost instantly. We talked often, whenever my rifle company was back from operations up and down Highway 13, known to us G.I.s as Thunder Road.


In September 1968, I rotated back to the States and left Nhung behind. I was assigned to the Sixth Army Reserve Headquarters in Seattle. From there, I wrote her constantly, but she did not reply. She told me later she was afraid of being  hurt. But I was determined. When my two-year active-duty commitment was over, I flew to Saigon so we could marry.


While we waited on her passport and visa, I landed a job as an office boy at The Associated Press in downtown Saigon and worked alongside such stars of the bureau as Peter Arnett, Horst Faas, Nick Ut, Dick Pyle, George McArthur and George Esper. This was how I happened to be working for The Star when South Vietnam was about to fall in spring 1975.


By the time Nhung was with her family and I out of touch with her (phone calls were impossible, and there was no internet), I was a city desk reporter.


I could not keep my mind on my work, since my wife was in a war zone, pregnant with our child. My parents, who lived on our family farm near Norborne, Mo., 75 miles northeast of Kansas City, were likewise frantically worried about Nhung; the future of their unborn grandchild was at risk. What if the Communists took over, sealed the borders and punished anyone, like Nhung, who was sympathetic to the Saigon government?


We tried everything to reach her. My mother, eyes constantly on TV reports, would see a young woman from behind and believe that was her daughter-in-law. She cried and prayed so much through late March and early April.


Finally, my mother wrote to George Esper, a good-hearted man who helped to send many Vietnamese abroad in the final days because they had worked for Americans and, he believed, were vulnerable.


Being farmers, my parents had little money. As a junior reporter, I too had little. Still, somehow my parents managed to send several thousand dollars to Nhung so she could pay the necessary bribes and buy a one-way ticket to the States.


I was at the farm Friday evening, April 11 – just 19 days before Saigon fell –  upstairs in my bedroom when the phone rang downstairs. My mother answered it and began crying. I could hear her shouting at me. She was so happy. She yelled upstairs: “She’s back in the United States. She’s coming home.”


After Nhung arrived at the farm, The Star sent a reporter and a photographer to write a story about one of the early refugees from the last days of that long war. I remember what Nhung said: “Human life in Vietnam is not worth more than an ant.”


Our daughter was born in early June. It was a normal delivery.

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Storks – Faithful Love …

Posted on April 17, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

A faithful male flying thousands of miles each year to join his handicapped female who cannot fly — the story of two storks in Croatia, Klepetan and Malena, is one of love and devotion beating the odds.

By late March, Klepetan was back in the tiny village of Brodski Varos in eastern Croatia for the 16th year in a row, after leaving his winter home in southern Africa.

There he again met the love of his life, white stork Malena — “Little One” in Croatian — who was waiting to start having more babies, to add to the 62 the pair already have.

The faithful couple’s long-distance relationship has made them celebrities in Croatia. Local school caretaker Stjepan Vokic, a 71-year-old widower, adopted Malena in 1993 when he found her near a pond, injured by a shot from hunters.

She spends winters in a storage building in what Vokic calls an “improvised Africa” with a nest, heating and aquarium. In spring Vokic makes a gigantic nest for Malena on the building’s roof.

Klepetan, the father stork, teaches his baby storks to fly before migrating with them in early August to southern Africa.

Meanwhile, Malena stays with Vokic, who bathes her and puts cream on her feet to stop them drying out, as she is away from her wetland habitat.”I also take her fishing since I can’t take her to Africa. We even watch TV together,” Vokic told AFP.

“If I had left her in the pond foxes would have eaten her. But I changed her fate, so now I’m responsible for her life.”Klepetan, named after a knocking sound storks make with their beaks, wears a tracking ring.

His final migratory destination has been traced to near Cape Town, some 14,500 kilometres (9,000 miles) from Malena. It takes him a little over a month.

Croatia is home to some 1,500 pairs of white storks. Cigoc, in central Croatia, was proclaimed the first European stork village in 1994.

More than 210 birds live there in nests on the roofs and lamp posts. Their number is more than double the village’s human population.

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Valentine’s Day History …

Posted on February 18, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Personalities |

From Apple News – This article was originally published on The Conversation by Lisa Bitel, Professor of History & Religion, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Valentine’s Day originated as a liturgical feast to celebrate the decapitation of a third-century Christian martyr, or perhaps two. So, how did we get from beheading to betrothing on Valentine’s Day?

Early origins of St. Valentine
Ancient sources reveal that there were several St. Valentines who died on Feb. 14. Two of them were executed during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus in 269-270 A.D., at a time when persecution of Christians was common.

How do we know this? Because an order of Belgian monks spent three centuries collecting evidence for the lives of saints from manuscript archives around the known world.

They were called Bollandists after Jean Bolland, a Jesuit scholar who began publishing the massive 68-folio volumes of “Acta Sanctorum,” or “Lives of the Saints,” beginning in 1643.

Since then, successive generations of monks continued the work until the last volume was published in 1940. The Brothers dug up every scrap of information about every saint on the liturgical calendar and printed the texts arranged according to the saint’s feast day.

The Valentine martyrs
The volume encompassing Feb. 14 contains the stories of a handful of “Valentini,” including the earliest three of whom died in the third century.

The earliest Valentinus is said to have died in Africa, along with 24 soldiers. Unfortunately, even the Bollandists could not find any more information about him. As the monks knew, sometimes all that the saints left behind was a name and day of death.

We know only a little more about the other two Valentines.

According to a late medieval legend reprinted in the “Acta,” which was accompanied by Bollandist critique about its historical value, a Roman priest named Valentinus was arrested during the reign of Emperor Gothicus and put into the custody of an aristocrat named Asterius.

As the story goes, Asterius made the mistake of letting the preacher talk. Father Valentinus went on and on about Christ leading pagansout of the shadow of darkness and into the light of truth and salvation. Asterius made a bargain with Valentinus: If the Christian could cure Asterius’s foster-daughter of blindness, he would convert. Valentinus put his hands over the girl’s eyes and chanted:

“Lord Jesus Christ, en-lighten your handmaid, because you are God, the True Light.”

Easy as that. The child could see, according to the medieval legend. Asterius and his whole family were baptized. Unfortunately, when Emperor Gothicus heard the news, he ordered them all to be executed. But Valentinus was the only one to be beheaded. A pious widow, though, made off with his body and had it buried at the site of his martyrdom on the Via Flaminia, the ancient highway stretching from Rome to present-day Rimini. Later, a chapel was built over the saint’s remains.

St. Valentine was not a romantic
The third third-century Valentinus was a bishop of Terni in the province of Umbria, Italy.

According to his equally dodgy legend, Terni’s bishop got into a situation like the other Valentinus by debating a potential convert and afterward healing his son. The rest of story is quite similar as well: He too was beheaded on the orders of Emperor Gothicus and his body buried along the Via Flaminia.

It is likely, as the Bollandists suggested, that there weren’t actually two decapitated Valentines, but that two different versions of one saint’s legend appeared in both Rome and Terni.

Nonetheless, African, Roman or Umbrian, none of the Valentines seems to have been a romantic.

Indeed, medieval legends, repeated in modern media, had St. Valentine performing Christian marriage rituals or passing notes between Christian lovers jailed by Gothicus. Still other stories romantically involved him with the blind girl whom he allegedly healed. Yet none of these medieval tales had any basis in third-century history, as the Bollandists pointed out.

In any case, historical veracity did not count for much with medieval Christians. What they cared about were stories of miracles and martyrdoms and the physical remains or relics of the saint. To be sure, many different churches and monasteries around medieval Europe claimed to have bits of a St. Valentinus’ skull in their treasuries.

Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, for example, still displays a whole skull. According to the Bollandists, other churches across Europe also claim to own slivers and bits of one or the other St. Valentinus’ body: For example, San Anton Church in Madrid, Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Prague, Saint Mary’s Assumption in Chelmno, Poland, as well as churches in Malta, Birmingham, Glasgow, and on the Greek isle of Lesbos, among others.

For believers, relics of the martyrs signified the saints’ continuing their invisible presence among communities of pious Christians. In 11th-century Brittany, for instance, one bishop used what was purported to be Valentine’s head to halt fires, prevent epidemics and cure all sorts of illnesses, including demonic possession.

As far as we know, though, the saint’s bones did nothing special for lovers.

Unlikely pagan origins
Many scholars have deconstructed Valentine and his day in books, articles and blog postings. Some suggest that the modern holiday is a Christian cover-up of the more ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia in mid-February.

Lupercalia originated as a ritual in a rural masculine cult involving the sacrifice of goats and dogs and evolved later into an urban carnival. During the festivities half-naked young men ran through the streets of Rome, streaking people with thongs cut from the skins of newly killed goats. Pregnant women thought it brought them healthy babies. In 496 A.D., however, Pope Gelasius supposedly denounced the rowdy festival.

Still, there is no evidence that the pope purposely replaced Lupercalia with the more sedate cult of the martyred St. Valentine or any other Christian celebration.

Chaucer and the love birds
The love connection probably appeared more than a thousand years after the martyrs’ death, when Geoffrey Chaucer, author of “The Canterbury Tales” decreed the February feast of St. Valentinus to the mating of birds. He wrote in his “Parlement of Foules”:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day. Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

It seems that, in Chaucer’s day, English birds paired off to produce eggs in February. Soon, nature-minded European nobility began sending love notes during bird-mating season. For example, the French Duke of Orléans, who spent some years as a prisoner in the Tower of London, wrote to his wife in February 1415 that he was “already sick of love” — by which he meant lovesick. And he called her his “very gentle Valentine.”

English audiences embraced the idea of February mating. Shakespeare’s lovestruck Ophelia spoke of herself as Hamlet’s Valentine.

In the following centuries, Englishmen and women began using Feb. 14 as an excuse to pen verses to their love objects. Industrialization made it easier with mass-produced illustrated cards adorned with smarmy poetry. Then along came Cadbury, Hershey’s, and other chocolate manufacturers marketing sweets for one’s sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.

Today, shops everywhere in England and the US decorate their windows with hearts and banners proclaiming the annual Day of Love. Merchants stock their shelves with candy, jewelry and Cupid-related trinkets begging “Be My Valentine.” For most lovers, this request does not require beheading.

Invisible Valentines
It seems that the erstwhile saint behind the holiday of love remains as elusive as love itself. Still, as St. Augustine, the great fifth-century theologian and philosopher argued in his treatise on “Faith in Invisible Things,” someone does not have to be standing before our eyes for us to love them.

And much like love itself, St. Valentine and his reputation as the patron saint of love are not matters of verifiable history, but of faith.

And finally we have not even covered Al Capone’s St Valentines Day Massacre …

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Falling in Love …

Posted on June 12, 2017. Filed under: Guide Posts, Mars & Venus, Searching for Success |

During a seminar, a woman asks, “How do I know if I married the right person?” There was this guy sitting next to her, so the guy asks, “Is that your husband?” Taken aback she asks, “How did you guess?” He goes onto explain.

’Every relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse. You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.

Falling in love with your spouse wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called “falling” in love. Because it’s happening TO YOU.

People in love sometimes say, “I was swept off my feet.” Think about the imagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something came along and happened TO YOU.

Falling in love is easy. It’s a passive and spontaneous experience.

But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It’s the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens) and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.

The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship but if you think about your marriage you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angrier subsequent stage. At this point, you or your spouse might start asking, “Did I marry the right person?”

As you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when marriages breakdown.

People blame their spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment. Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV or abusive substances.

But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it. I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better.


SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It’ll NEVER just happen to you. You can’t “find” LASTING love. You have to “make” it day in and day out.

That’s why we have the expression “the labor of love.” Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM.

You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work. Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to succeed with your marriage.

Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It’s  direct cause and effect.

If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable. You can “make” love. Love in marriage is indeed a “decision”. Not just a feeling. “No one falls in love by choice, it is by CHANCE. No one stays in love by chance, it is by CHOICE.’

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‘Red’ Skeleton! Any One Remembers him? …

Posted on February 9, 2017. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

Twice a week we go to a nice restaurant, have a little beverage, good food and companionship She goes on Tuesdays; I go on Fridays.

We also sleep in separate beds. Hers is in California , and mine is in Texas .

I take my wife everywhere…. but she keeps finding her way back.

I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. ‘Somewhere I haven’t been in a long time!’ she said. So I suggested the kitchen.We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

She has an electric blender, electric toaster and electric bread maker. She said ‘There are too many gadgets, and no place to sit down!’   So I bought her an electric chair.

My wife told me the car wasn’t running well because there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was. She told me, ‘In the lake.’

She got a mud pack, and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.

She ran after the garbage truck, yelling, ‘Am I too late for the garbage?’ The driver said, ‘No, jump in!’

Remember: Marriage is the number one cause of divorce. I married Miss Right. I just didn’t know her first name was Always.

I haven’t spoken to my wife in 18 months. I don’t like to interrupt her.

 The last fight was my fault though. My wife asked, ‘What’s on the TV?’ I said, ‘Dust!’
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Beware the Oldies …

Posted on February 3, 2017. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Uncategorized |

In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked: “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?

She responded:  “Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked: “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?

She again replied: “Why yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him“. The defense attorney nearly died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench, and, in a very quiet voice, said,If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair.

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Marlene Dietrich … Among the Best …

Posted on May 25, 2010. Filed under: Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, Mars & Venus, Movies |

Marlene Dietrich started as s cabaret singer and chorus girl in the 1920s Berlin. She was Hollywood star in the 1930s.  She constantly re-invented herself and became one of entertainment icons of the 20th century. The American Film Institute ranked her amongst the Greatest Female Stars of All Time. Earnest Hemingway on Marlene Dietrich – “I know that everytime I have seen Marlene Dietrich, it has done something to my heart and made me happy. If this makes her mysterious, then it is a fine mystery”. Here she is in her own words.

 I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.

 The average man is more interested in a woman who is interested in him than he is in a woman with beautiful legs.

To be a complete woman you need a master and in him a compass for your life. You need a man you can look up to and respect. If you dethrone him it’s no wonder that you are discontented; and discontented women are not loved for long.

Most women set out to try to change a man, and when they have changed him they do not like him. Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast. Grumbling is the death of love.

How do you know love is gone? If you said that you would be there at seven and you get there by nine, and he or she has not called the police yet – it’s gone.

It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter. There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.

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Wit and Wisdom of a Woman …

Posted on May 24, 2010. Filed under: Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, Mars & Venus |

Helen Rowland was a very quotable journalist and humorist whose possible counter was the acerbic HL Mencken. Here are her gems.

Flirting is the gentle art of making a man feel pleased with himself.

It takes a woman twenty years to make a man of her son.  Another woman comes and takes twenty minutes to make a fool of him.

A man snatches the first kiss, pleads for the second, demands the third, takes the fourth, accepts the fifth – and endures the rest for life.

Never trust a husband too far, nor a bachelor too near. There are only two kinds of men – the dead and the deadly.

A husband is what is left of a lover after the nerve has been extracted.

It isn’t tying himself to one woman that a man dreads when he thinks of marrying but it’s separating himself from all the others.    A man’s heart may have a secret sanctuary where only one woman may enter but it is full of little ante rooms which are seldom vacant.

When a man makes a woman his wife, it’s the highest compliment he can pay her. And it’s usually the last.

A wise woman puts a grain of sugar into everything she says to a man. And she takes everything he says to her with a grain of salt. To be happy with a man you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.

Before marriage, a man will lay down his life for you. After marriage he won’t even lay down his newspaper.

When a man spends his time giving his wife criticism and advice instead of compliments, he forgets that it was not his good judgment but his charming manners that won her heart.

After a few years of marriage a man can look right at a woman without seeing her. And a woman can see right through a man without looking at him.

Home is any four walls that enclose the right person.

And Verily, a woman may need but know one man and understand all men; whereas a man may know all women yet understand not one of them.

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HL Mencken … acerbic as any …

Posted on May 23, 2010. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, Mars & Venus |

H. L. Mencken, the “Sage of Baltimore “, was an acerbic critic of life and culture. An nfluential writer and prose stylist, made famous by his satirical reporting of the Scopes trial, which he dubbed the ‘Monkey’ trial.  A libertarian, Mencken wrote on just about everything. He attacked ignorance, intolerance, and the fraudulent. Here he is on Life, Love, Women and Marriage.

Time stays, we go!

It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf.

 The true man or woman is always amused rather than shocked.

It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.

Self-respect: the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious.

Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends – it is the inner voice that warns us that someone might be looking.

Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another; it is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia – to mistake an ordinary young woman for a goddess.

Love is an emotion that is based on an opinion of women that is impossible for those who have had any experience with them.

Love is like war: – easy to begin but very hard to stop.

Men and women belong to different species and communication between them is still in its infancy

Temptation is a woman’s weapon and man’s excuse.

If I ever marry, it will be on a sudden impulse – as a man shoots himself.

Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn’t they’d be married too.

The only really happy folk are married women and single men.

When women kiss it always reminds one of prize fighters shaking hands. 

Women have simple tastes. They get pleasure out of the conversation of children in arms and men in love.

No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not.

A man may be a fool and not know it, but not so if he is married.

If women believed in their husbands they would be a good deal happier and also a good deal more foolish.

Strike an average between what a woman thinks of her husband a month before she marries him and what she thinks of him a year afterward, and you will have the truth about him.

When one is young, a wife is a mistress; when one is in middle age, a wife is a companion and when one is old, a wife is a nurse.

Men have a much better time of it than women – for one thing, they marry later; for another thing, they die earlier.

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A Fairy Tale …

Posted on November 15, 2009. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

“It was a busy morning, about 8:30 , when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s arrived at the hospital to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.

I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.

The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.

He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now. I was surprised, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?’

He smiled, as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, But I still know who she is.’ ………………. I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life.’

True love is neither Physical, nor Romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

With all the jokes and fun that are on the net and elsewhere, sometimes there is one that comes along that has an important message. This one needed to be  shared. The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything they have. ‘Life isn’t about how to survive the storm. Its about dancing in the rain’.

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