family

Happy 100th Birthday, Granny… Sep 11 ’06 (Updated Jul 24 ’07)

I wrote this piece for Epinions years ago. It was saved to Ancestry.com without my knowledge or permission. I recently got access to it, so I am preserving it for myself and other interested relatives. Ancestry.com has no right to charge people for the right to read something I wrote to be read for free. Especially ME! Granny died in July 2007. She was six weeks from her 101st birthday.

I may add a photo at a later date… like tomorrow. (ETA: The featured photo is of Granny in August 1972. She was holding me. I was born two months earlier.)

The Bottom Line 100 years on Earth is a great reason to have a big party!

Although today is the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on America, my thoughts are somewhere else this morning. In just two days, my grandmother, Elizabeth Brownlee Barger Tolley, will be 100 years old. Everyone, even people who are not related to her, calls my grandmother Granny or Mama. This weekend, most of my family will gather in Natural Bridge, Virginia for a birthday party to end all birthday parties. It will, of course, be more than just a birthday party. It will be a celebration of a great woman’s 100 years on the planet.

My grandmother was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia on September 13, 1906. She is one of ten children, and the last one still living. Having graduated as valedictorian of her high school class of fourteen students, Granny went on to marry my grandfather, Lloyd Tolley, otherwise known as Pappy, in 1925. The following year, she became a mother when my late aunt Jeanne was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jeanne got to be an only child for a few years, until Granny and Pappy moved back to Natural Bridge, Virginia. My dad was the next child, born on February 9, 1933 in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Granny went on to have a total of nine children, five sons and four daughters, eight of whom survived to be adults. My aunt Susan, who was born with Down Syndrome in 1948, died of a brain abscess when she was fourteen years old. She was Granny’s last child.

Although the Tolleys were a relatively poor family, every single one of Granny’s kids graduated high school. Most of Granny’s kids also graduated from college and most of the men served some time in the military. My father made a career out of military service, having spent almost twenty-two years as an officer in the Air Force. His brothers served stints of varying lengths in either the Air Force or the Army.

Though Pappy died in 1974, Granny still lives in the house my grandfather bought many years ago. She’s lived with my Uncle Brownlee and his wife, Gayle, for as long as I can remember. Although Granny’s house now officially belongs to my Uncle Brownlee and his wife, I will always think of the place as her house. The place is very special to me. It sits right off Route 130 in Natural Bridge, on a country lane that was named after my grandfather. A creek runs in front of the house, flowing under a stone bridge that Brownlee built with his own two hands. Another creek runs perpendicular to the property, meets the creek that runs in front of the house and flows down the holler’. At one time, my grandfather owned the property that makes up the holler’, but the land has since been sold several times. Weather permitting, whenever I spend the night at Granny’s house, I crack open the window and listen to the creek trickle past. I don’t remember ever not sleeping well at my grandmother’s house.

Granny’s house. It’s been in the family since the 1930s, and the road that runs in front of it is named for my grandfather, who owned a small store on it.

Granny is still very sharp and, though she seems tired these days, she’s remarkably healthy for being 100 years old. Every day, she reads the newspaper from start to finish. She always has, for as long as I can remember. It keeps her mind sharp. I can always count on Granny to have opinions about everything in the world. She watches CNN and plays freecell on a battered computer that’s useless for any other purpose. She bakes a mean loaf of bread and most years, she remembers my birthday with a card. Considering the fact that Granny has 22 grandchildren and at least 22 great grandchildren, I consider that to be quite a feat!

Five years ago, my Aunt Gayle’s brother, Ralph, took Granny, then 95 years old, for a spin on the back of his motorcycle. He drove her 15 miles, from Natural Bridge to Lexington, Virginia, where they enjoyed lunch at a little restaurant. Ralph took pictures of Granny on the bike and sent them to his favorite motorcycle magazine. They got published, along with a great article! At the time, I was studying social work at the University of South Carolina. I took great pleasure in telling one of my classes about my 95 year old motorcycle riding Granny, especially since my professor was a gerontologist.

Just a week before the 9/11 attacks, Granny met my husband Bill for the first time. She met him even before my parents did. It was Granny who told me in no uncertain terms that I should marry Bill. She liked him from the get go. On September 11, 2001, Bill was in the Pentagon in the wedge that got hit by the airplane. Luckily, he survived intact. It wasn’t long before we were engaged. I probably would have married Bill even if Granny hadn’t so overwhelmingly approved of him. It still makes me feel good that he vetted well with a woman whose opinion I so highly value. And it was Granny who paid for our marriage license with her wedding present of $100 cash.

It’s mostly because of Granny that I know my aunts, uncles, and cousins so well. Every Thanksgiving, for as long as I can remember, our family has gathered from far flung places to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Each year, aunts, uncles, and cousins drive to Natural Bridge, Virginia and spend the Thanksgiving holiday talking, eating, laughing, dancing, singing, playing cards, watching football, and hanging out. I have always looked forward to those gatherings, although Bill and I haven’t been able to attend since 2003 because of other commitments. It’s a wonderful tradition. Everyone is welcome. In fact, in 2001, when Bill and I were still dating, he brought his mother to our Thanksgiving party. I can’t help but think that letting Bill’s mom hang out with my family helped score me some points!

Over the years, Granny has rescued small children who have locked themselves in bathrooms and killed snakes with hatchets. She’s served as the long arm of the law in her house, catching and punishing my uncles when, as young men, they used to sneak behind the barn to smoke. She’s comforted the injured and sad, cooked many meals from scratch for her family, and worked hard to support her loved ones. She always tells the truth, too, even when the truth hurts. I don’t always appreciate hearing Granny’s truths, but I know that she’s usually right.

My grandmother is a grand lady and my family is very proud of her. I don’t know how many years she has left. Although her mind is still very clear, Granny has had a slow growing form of leukemia for some time. I sense that she’s very tired, especially since she lost her younger sister, Estelle, on Halloween 2002. Estelle was a hilarious chain smoking, trash talking, diminutive woman who never failed to make me laugh. Like Granny, she was blessed with an amazing constitution and lived to be 90 years old. I can’t help but wonder how long she would have lived had she not smoked so much. Her voice was like steel wool, harsh and abrasive. One of my fondest memories of Granny and Estelle was when they visited us in England, where my dad was finishing up his time in the military. I remember Estelle holding me up to a mirror and saying, “Who is that monkey in the mirror?” Estelle was, in many ways, Granny’s polar opposite, although every once in awhile, Granny can surprise people with a dirty joke or two. I think I take after Estelle more than Granny, though.

I look forward to seeing Granny this weekend at her birthday party. I hope it’s not the last time, though something tells me it probably will be. I imagine that this shindig will be very well attended, not just by people from the family, but by people in the community who have known Granny for years. I pray that she feels the tremendous love that others feel for her. I feel very blessed to have such a special, classy lady in my family tree.

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musings

I don’t like Meat Loaf…

Today on my music blog, I wrote about how I got a mild ration of shit for not enjoying Janis Joplin’s music. It always cracks me up when I express an opinion, particularly about a certain food or type of music, and someone tries to convince me that I’m wrong. There’s no accounting for taste. Opinions differ. I know a lot of people like Janis Joplin’s music. Many people think she was extraordinary. A lot of people feel that way about Barbra Streisand, too. I like songs by Janis and Barbra, but I think they’re overrated singers. It’s just my opinion. I’m entitled to it. You’re entitled to yours.

Anyway, as I was writing about the contentious Janis Joplin thread I had going last night, it occurred to me that I don’t like Meat Loaf, either. I mean, I don’t like the singer– not the dish. I actually LOVE meatloaf, the dish. I make a mean one, stuffed with cheese, ham, and loaded with Italian spices. It’s been too long since I last made one, too. Maybe we’ll do it this weekend. As I look for a photo of meatloaf, I see that it doesn’t look appetizing… but damn, it tastes good!

In fact, here’s the recipe for Stuffed Italian Meatloaf. You can’t say I never gave you anything.

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 C soft bread crumbs

1/2 C tomato juice (or tomato sauce– I have used leftover Ragu sauce successfully)

2 T parsley

1/2 t oregano

1/2t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/2 clove garlic

2 lbs ground beef

6-9 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

3 slices mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (176 Celsius). Combine all ingredients except meat and cheese. Mix in ground beef, form 10×12 rectangle on waxed paper. Sprinkle cheese almost to edge. Beginning at short side, roll up meat, sealing edges and ends. Place seam side down in 9×13 baking dish. Bake 1 1/4 hours. Place cheese slices over top and return to oven to melt. Serves 10 to 12. If you want to, you can also put thin broiled ham slices under the shredded cheese as more stuffing. This recipe comes from the Virginia Hospitality cookbook and I’ve served it to many people with great success!

Back to Meat Loaf, and why I don’t like him. There’s a reason I’m not a fan of Meat Loaf, also known as Michael Lee Aday. It’s not because he’s a bad singer. I fully recognize that he’s a great entertainer and a talented singer. I know people love his music and appreciate his theatrical style. He has a powerful, operatic voice, as well as a sense of humor that appeals to many. I don’t own any of his music, though, and I own music by lots and lots of musicians from a broad array of genres. Meat Loaf was popular when I was a child and I heard him on the radio a lot. I probably could have taken or left him, if not for an incident that occurred in early 1994.

One weekend, during my senior year in college, I had gone to visit my relatives in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It was cold outside, so it must have been in the winter– I think it was February, because I remember telling my aunt that graduation was coming up in just a few months. My cousin, who was then a senior in high school and very popular with males, was invited to a party. She asked me to go with her. We went to some guy’s house… I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that he had a son named Brian who was about my age. My cousin is four years younger than I am, so that would mean Brian was an adult, while she was still a minor. They were apparently dating at the time.

So there we were at Brian’s father’s house. We had gone there to pick up “dad” so we could all go to the party together. As Brian was getting ready for the festivities, dear old dad struck up a conversation with me. He told me that he’d gone to high school with my Uncle Steve. Steve was born in 1945, which means that he’s 27 years older than I am. Steve has two children and they’re both slightly older than I am. My cousin and Brian were making eyes at each other. Dear old dad was apparently making eyes at me. I was oblivious.

He turned on the stereo. Meat Loaf’s hit song, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” was playing. I remember it was the first time I’d really heard that song, although I’d heard about it from my friends. I don’t know how I missed it, since it was probably Meat Loaf’s best loved hit.

I HATE this song, however it’s notable since the female solo part was done by Ellen Foley, who went on to star on Night Court in the 1980s.

I remember listening to the music as Brian finally got finished gussying up. We went to the party in Brian’s car, while my cousin’s car was left at Brian’s dad’s house. Brian and my cousin eventually disappeared together, and I was left there alone, talking to people I didn’t know very well. I remember meeting a woman who went to Randolph-Macon College and was roommates with a woman I’d gone to school with in Gloucester County. I wasn’t good friends with her roommate. In fact, we’d had a very contentious history. Her younger brother ruined my very first Walkman knockoff by putting it in a swimming pool, and her mom got angry at my dad for requesting that she pay for the damaged item. I don’t think their mom ever forgave my dad, even though her son had purposely ruined my radio. He’s probably completely forgotten that incident, but I haven’t.

Anyway, it was kind of interesting that my old schoolmate’s roomie was at this party, which was clear across the state from Gloucester and Randolph-Macon College. That was probably the coolest thing that happened that night. She eventually got up to get some beer, and I was suddenly confronted by Brian’s father, who was EXTREMELY drunk. He’d apparently spent a couple of hours at that party just sitting there getting hammered. He was so intoxicated he couldn’t keep his eyes open. It was not an appealing or attractive look for him, and frankly, it made me nervous to talk to him.

Brian’s dad then proceeded to hit on me. I was 21 years old. He was in his late 40s and piss drunk. Here I was, sitting alone while my cousin made out with Brian. Brian’s dad slurred, “You’re sooo cute… Let’sh go to my housh and wait…” He wanted me to accompany him to his house and hang out there with him, alone. I don’t think he would have harmed me, unless we died on the way out of there. He was so wasted that he was close to passing out.

I told him I didn’t want to go with him. For one thing, he was dead drunk and had absolutely no business driving. For another thing, I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in him, especially in his inebriated state. I didn’t want to hang out with him when he was that drunk. I doubt I would have wanted to get to know him when he was sober, either. He quickly revealed himself to be an asshole of the first order. So I said no… more than once. He wouldn’t take it as an answer.

“Aw come on…” he begged. “Let’sh go. You’re shoooo pretty… I knew your Uncle Sh’teve in school…” Those beer goggles were strapped on tight!

“No.” I said. “I need to wait for my cousin.”

“She’s okayyyy…” he slurred. “She’s with my Sh’ON!”

Yeah… that was what I was afraid of, especially if his son was anything like him. So I said, “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“Bitch!” he shrieked, suddenly not finding me so “cute” anymore. “You’re jusht a bitch!” He finally staggered off in a rage.

At that point, I got distinctly uncomfortable and decided to remove myself from that situation. I found the party’s hostess and asked if I could borrow her phone. The hostess was very apologetic as I called my aunt to come and get me.

My aunt showed up a little bit later, very upset. She hissed, “I feel like taking her to the emergency room!” referring to my cousin.

“Why would you do that?” I asked.

“What do you think they were doing?” aunt said, fuming. Clearly she assumed they were having sex.

I looked over at Brian’s car and sure enough, the windows were fogged up. I could see him on top of my cousin. It looked like they were kissing passionately. I don’t know if anything else happened that night, and I never asked. I do remember trying to drive my uncle’s truck home with my cousin in it, as her mom had gone to retrieve my cousin’s car. The truck had a “three on the tree” gear shift, so I kept shifting wrong, making the ride home even less comfortable than it otherwise would have been. I apologized to her for “ratting” her out, but I didn’t see any other way to get out of that situation with Brian’s drunk dad, who was making me very uncomfortable. I didn’t have my own transportation and didn’t know where she was, so I had to call for help.

Another song by Meat Loaf that I’d pass on… especially now.

My cousin was surprisingly chill about it and didn’t get angry with me. Maybe she was relieved that I called her mom. Unfortunately, Meat Loaf’s music is now completely ruined for me. I didn’t really like most of his songs that much anyway, though. I remember right before that incident, he had a hit in “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, a song that I never liked. After meeting Brian’s dad at that party, I can say that I like it even less!

Isn’t it funny how music can trigger memories? Some are good. Some are distinctly bad. I know people love Meat Loaf and hate meatloaf. I love meatloaf, but would rather pass on Meat Loaf. Every time I hear his music– especially “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, I’m reminded of Brian and Brian’s drunk ass dad. Come to think of it, I don’t really like parties that much, either.

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memories

September 11th

It’s that time of year again. Ever since September 11, 2001, Americans go into memorial mode and recall the day when our country was attacked and life changed forever. I have shared this story before, but since it’s September 11th again, I’m going to write about how I spent that day and where it ultimately led me.

I am a firm believer that good things come out of almost every situation. Sometimes you have to look really hard to see the good in a situation. Sometimes things happen that you wish wouldn’t have happened, no matter what positive effect occurred. In my case, I think September 11th helped me find my way to the altar and, ultimately, a better life. I wish it hadn’t happened that way, but it kind of did…

Flashback to 2001… Labor Day weekend. I had just started my third and final year in my dual master’s degree program at the University of South Carolina. Bill had just been transferred from Leavenworth, Kansas to the Pentagon only a few weeks prior. We were both itching for a change of scenery, so I suggested we meet up at my grandmother’s house in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Prior to that meeting, we’d only had one other in person meeting, back in May of that year. The Army had sent Bill to Columbia, South Carolina on business, like they’d done the year prior. I missed Bill on his first visit, but caught him on his second.

I remember after our May meeting, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. He seemed taken with me and repeatedly told me that it would be hard to go back to typing since he’d met me. But then all summer, we kept writing to each other. Seeing him again over Labor Day seemed right. He came down, met my aunt, uncle, and grandmother, and we spent a magical weekend together. We visited Goshen Pass and had a fantastic time…

I took this picture in November 2014, but we visited in September 2001, when it was hot enough for swimming. It was so much fun!

As Bill was leaving Granny’s house, she told me that I should marry him. Granny was, at that time, 95 years old and sharp as a tack. She loved Bill, and after that weekend, so did I. I remember practically floating all the way back to South Carolina. All week, I thought about our amazing Labor Day weekend in Virginia. And then came September 11th.

That morning was absolutely beautiful. The weather was warm and sunny, but not oppressively hot. I wore a short black skirt, bright blue long sleeved blouse, and black tights. Back then, I dressed up most days because I had to look professional. I was planning to actually be a professional, rather than an overeducated housewife. I had to go to my field placement at the Recovering Professionals Program. I was compiling data for a project I was working on when my friend, Jennifer, told me about the first plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t think much of it at the time. She’d heard about it on the radio, so had no visual appreciation for what had happened.

Then the second plane hit.

Next thing I knew, the Pentagon was hit… And I realized that Bill, unofficially my new boyfriend, was at the Pentagon. Bill’s office had just been moved to a different location. It was originally in the area that was hit by the jet airliner that crashed into the Pentagon that day. If they hadn’t moved his office, he probably would have died on 9/11. Then, another plane went down in Pennsylvania. It seemed like the world was ending.

All day long, I wondered if Bill was dead or alive. I was still calling him my “friend”, but I knew we had more than friendship. I’d been chatting with him since November 1999, when we were both making new beginnings. He had separated from his ex wife and I had started grad school. We’d chatted platonically for a few months before he told me about his wife and children. I remember being shocked and sad for him… and, if I’m honest, a little sad for me. I knew I liked him, even in early 2000. But, he was in Kansas; I was in South Carolina; and I never had any intention of ever meeting him offline, let alone marrying him.

But then Ex served Bill with divorce papers at his father’s house over Easter 2000. They were divorced by June 2000. She had a boyfriend living in the house Bill was still paying for, and he was playing “daddy” to Ex’s three kids– two of whom were Bill’s daughters. She gladly took his money every month, but pushed him out of their children’s lives. Bill’s replacement is still married to her and they have had two more children. We hear #3 doesn’t get treated very well at all, but back then, according to her, new boyfriend was practically perfect, and Bill was a bastard who had ruined everything. Ex told Bill no other woman would ever want him. She didn’t know about me.

Fate conspired to have us meet. It was as if the stars aligned for our unlikely union. My aunt’s brother, Ralph, met Bill at a National Guard convention just a few weeks before I met him in person. Ralph is a retired Guardsman as well as a retired Virginia State Trooper. He assured me Bill wasn’t a psycho. I felt safe in meeting him in May 2001 and again in September 2001. By the time Labor Day 2001 was over, I knew I could love him. By the time 9/11 was over, I knew I wanted to marry him.

My mom and I talked on the phone and she told me not to expect to hear from Bill for awhile. Mom is a very experienced Air Force wife, so she was giving me practical advice about Bill, even though she’d never met him and was hearing of my “boyfriend” for the first time. As soon as I hung up the phone, Bill sent me a message on Yahoo! Messenger, letting me know he was okay. He had tried to call me, but the phone number he had for me was one digit off. I swear it wasn’t on purpose that the number was wrong. I probably just forgot it myself. No one ever calls me anyway, even back in 2001, when someone might have a reason to call.

I was very relieved that Bill had survived the terrorist attack, especially since he could have been killed just for being at the Pentagon, and would have been killed if his office hadn’t been moved. And I told him it was time we came out of the closet and told our families we were dating, because if something had happened to him, I never would have been informed. Bill agreed. Weeks later, he and his mom joined my big family at our annual Thanksgiving party in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Bill told him mom he was thinking of proposing and his mom, who was never a fan of Ex, said, “I approve.”

A year later, on November 16th, 2002, Bill and I were married at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. My dad was a graduate, as is an uncle and several cousins. Another uncle and at least two aunts worked at VMI. It’s about fifteen miles from Natural Bridge, which is where my dad’s family calls home. Just last week, 23andMe introduced me to a long, lost relative whose biological father was my great uncle. He was from Natural Bridge, too. It’s fitting that we were married in Rockbridge County, since that’s really my home, even if I never officially lived there.

One of the things that went right on our wedding day.

Our wedding day was imperfect, to say the least. Although the ceremony itself was beautiful and meaningful, some things went horribly awry. The most memorable SNAFU involved Bill’s dad, who was also his best man, locking his knees and almost fainting before we said our vows. And then, after the wedding, we spent two weeks unofficially married, because somehow our marriage license got lost in the mail. It was put in a mailbox in Lexington just after the ceremony, but the Rockbridge County clerk’s office either never got it or misplaced it.

In 2002, Virginia law stipulated, and still stipulates, that newly married couples have five days to file their marriage licenses after the ceremony. Otherwise, the license is null and void. I was waiting for the official license to get to us, but it never did. Bill called the county clerk’s office and was treated very badly by the staff. Eventually, the county clerk got on the phone and told Bill that even if the license was somehow found, it would not be honored, since it got to them beyond the deadline.

Bill and I went to the court in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which was where we were living at the time. We explained our situation, but they told us there was nothing they could do, as we were already “married”. But we were not officially married, so we couldn’t take care of any personal business. And Rockbridge County was telling us that even if they received our license, the deadline had passed and they would not be honoring it. The court clerk was very uncooperative and unhelpful, and offered no solutions on what we could do to fix the situation. In fact, he became quite belligerent with Bill and accused him of being “abusive” (which is real laugh– good thing he didn’t speak to me).

I was shocked by this turn of events… especially since I’ve always known people in Rockbridge County to be nice and helpful, but then in the wake of our wedding, discovered that there are some real assholes living there. My family has been in that county for a couple hundred years and I am probably related to many people who live there and haven’t left… and a lot of people haven’t left. I’m sure some people think I’m an asshole, too, but I can’t imagine why that clerk wasn’t more sympathetic to our situation. What were we supposed to do? Was he on some kind of power trip?

Fortunately, Bill is used to dealing with assholes and he’s also a very tenacious, yet pleasant, polite, and even-keeled kind of guy. He called Virginia’s Attorney General’s office to find out who the Rockbridge County court clerk worked for. Next, realizing it was an election year, he called both our local representative and Rockbridge County’s representative, explained the situation, and told them that he was a 9/11 survivor. I couldn’t get a new Social Security card, military ID, or any other benefits until the clerk did the job the people elected him to do.

Both representatives lit a fire under the clerk’s ass and after our officiant sent him a copy of the license application, the clerk begrudgingly handed over our official license, albeit with a nasty letter falsely accusing Bill of being “abusive” and admitting that he hadn’t wanted to help him because, basically, his feelings were hurt. Seriously?

I don’t like to call people snowflakes, but that guy must be a big one if my husband hurt his feelings. Wow. I have a feeling that the guy was just angry that Bill didn’t let him bully him and demanded that the clerk do his fucking job. Seems to be a trend in our marriage… People mistake Bill’s kindness for weakness and think they can steamroll him, make threats and false accusations, and take advantage. But I know the truth. Underneath that pleasant exterior beats the heart of a true warrior… and anyone who crosses Bill should remember that he makes his living planning battles. Yes, he’s a super nice guy, but he’s neither stupid nor cowardly, and especially now, he doesn’t tolerate bullies (including Ex).

I won’t even get into what Ex thought of our nuptials. Oh, okay… I’ll say this. When Bill told her he was going to propose to me, she asked if I was LDS. Bill and Ex were “sealed” for eternity and, at the time, he was still Mormon. So she wanted to know if I was going to be joining the fold. He said I wasn’t. She said he must love me very much. She was referring to the idea that Bill was giving up “eternal glory” to marry a “Gentile” (that is, a non-Mormon with no plans to convert). We would not be “sister wives” in the hereafter, and she couldn’t use her position as Bill’s first wife and mother of his kids, or LDS “teachings”, to cow me into submission.

In November, we will have been happily married for seventeen years. They have been seventeen years well spent. Would we have gotten married if not for 9/11? Probably. But I think 9/11 definitely sped things along and forced us to admit our feelings and tremendous chemistry for each other. We’ve had our share of problems from the outside, but our marriage has always been rock solid. We get along ridiculously well, and work as partners.

There were some things in my life that I didn’t do right, but I did find the right life partner. And as horrible as 9/11 was, it did show me that I had found the right man and I didn’t want to lose him. So… while I will always feel somber for the many people who died or were injured due to terrorism on 9/11/01, I will also remember that day as the day my life changed for the better. But I will also always remember that it was also a very dark day, as it took away America’s innocence and, I’m sorry to say, its collective spirit of generosity. I truly hope we get some of that kindness back in my lifetime.

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