Voices of Experience: Step on the HeartBridge

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How did you meet your loved one? The most iconic image of a kiss is one between strangers who never met again. The sailor in the statue was celebrating; he didn't know Kay, the nurse he kissed on V-J Day, when the Allies pronounced victory in World War II. But the image, also captured by Eisenstadt for Life magazine, sticks in our mind.

Sticky notes of events and names fall from the framework of our minds, while other happenings are vivid and real, cemented into the brain's neuronal pathways. While the sense of smell may be a paper glue for memories, strong emotion is a super glue! So when I interview people, getting material ready for a memoir or family history, a great question is always: "How did you and your loved ones meet?" If you are looking to connect on the HeartBridge of friendship with someone of a different generation or culture, try asking that question. You'll get some great stories:

1937: When Marie's father sent her to visit relatives in California, safely away from her beau, she jumped on a bus and headed back to Tennessee. "Then her dad knew the jig was up, and it was no use to fight us anymore," recalled Thad Martin. Marie and Thad enjoyed 70 years together.

1957: Barbara and Newell Goodall met in a boarding house when she was 17. After three months, "Even though I was very young, my heart told me I loved him." Their love has stayed steady ever since.

1966: "Good fortune knocked, and I opened the door to meet my next-door neighbor." Mary and Joe Mallen married in Las Vegas in 1966. When the judge pronounced them man and wife, "a sonic boom split the air," a lucky sign for Mary, whose business was air travel.

2004: Deborah and Evert Wilbrink meet at the Americana Music Convention, where Evert heard the voice of God saying, "You're going to marry that woman." He ran from the room, but months later, proposed on the first date. Deborah ran from the room, but now they're celebrating 10 years of love.

Alas, what we think is Love doesn't always work out to be so. Valentine's Day can be a lonely time too, but love can save the day! If you have smiles to spare, this is a great time to start across the HeartBridge and share those memories that stick, the happy ones of love. We all enjoy the prompt, "How did you meet your love?" and if there's not one of your own, find out about your own family's love stories to share.

Deborah Wilbrink is a personal historian with PerfectMemoirs.com and author of "Time To Tell: Your Personal & Family History." She lives in Nashville with her husband Evert and enjoys gardening and guitar. Contact Deborah at 615-417-8424 or deb@perfectmemoirs.com.

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Deborah Wilbrink, memoir, Voices of Experience
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