This story reminds me of my first great love. She was three years and change younger than me. She was tall, beautiful, poised, confident and way sophisticated beyond her years. She lived in a great brick house on main street of the next town up the road. Her large family was picture perfect. I was a child from a broken home. She was upper upper middle class. I was lower middle class.

I was her brief detour on her way to a great life. I was a going nowhere nobody. It was six months of paradise for me in every way possible. She broke off with me a few months after I went on active duty in the Navy. It was hell, but strangely enough I never resented her for it.

I dated her a half dozen times between the time we broke up and the day of her wedding, which by the way I attended. The last time I held her in my arms was New Year's Eve of 1965–66. I had taken her to the local country club dance.

I have never laid eyes on her again after her wedding in 1968. We have both gone on to live the lives we were destined to live. But I doubt that in spirt neither of us has ever been far apart.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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