It is better to have love and lost, then to have never loved at all, or is it?
From Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem In Memoriam:27, 1850:
I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
The problem with mothers and their penchant to mold the lives of their children
especially the first born son is the need to determine the destiny of that unfortunate child.
This is more so evident when it comes to setting the criteria for the young lady that will
capture the heart of that son and will replace that womanly soul that nurtured him into
Is it not a fact that a mother has the advantage over all others as to the knowledge of her
child, be it a son or daughter by virtue of the fact that in the conception of that child she
nurtured this life for a period of nine months. It only stands to reason she has a nine
month advantage in the knowledge of this that she had give life to.
From the moment a mother hears the cries of her child and then cradles her baby in her
arms for the first time she faces the dread that she will someday have to relinquish that
child to someone else and the agony of this concept is magnified if that child is her son.
In the agony of her period of travail her instincts is that her son will not be the same
manifestation of the creature that brought her to this moment of agony. However since
the inevitably of the human species is such she know this cannot be so and thus it become
her destiny that the woman who becomes the prize of this trophy must pay the same prize
she also paid for bringing this man child to the planet earth.
Such was the case that I came to find myself in the fall of 66 shortly after returning from
a tour of duty in Vietnam. My three year service in the US Army had come to an end the
last 12 months short of a week or so while stationed with the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry,
25th Infantry Division, and the Tropic Lightening. I had survived and now I would take
advantage of the primary I had joined the Army in 1963 shortly after graduating from
I had enrolled in a local college and it would be my goal to either enter into field that
would lead me either to teaching or the business community namely something in
accounting. I had some savings and the GI Bill to get me started with my college
education, however my one short coming was I would have to live once again with my
parents as to think of having my own place was beyond my financial means.
Each day I would follow my routine of driving to school where I would remain until late
in the evening so as to avoid the constant interruption of my attempt to study, do
homework and the other activities of a struggling college freshman. I was ill equipped to
meet the challenges of a higher education and it took every bit of effort to pass my
classes. The three years between high school graduation and going back to school were
more than a challenge despite the fact that I have taken classes here and there while
station at Scholfield Barracks in Hawaii. By the end of my first quarter of college I had
manage to fail the English class which meant I would once have to repeat it at my
expense and two take on an addition 3 credit hours if I expected to reap the full benefits
under the GI Bill a total of 15 hours.
While this was more than a challenge in and of itself the greater challenge would be
avoiding the constant effort of my mother to get me involved in some sort of social life.
The thought occurred to me from time to time if she did not have some concern because I
made little or no effort to seek the friendship of a lady friend. Her first manifestation of
this obsession was to question me as to if I had bothered to answer the letters forwarded
to our address from a few girls I was friends with while in Hawaii.
The friendship with these three girls was nothing more than being pen pals during the
time I was in Vietnam. If the truth be known they all were more involved with my army
and surfing buddies and in reality they were more buddies then lady friends. My
advantage over the guys they were truly friends with was while in Hawaii I spent my off
duty time surfing and dancing and this made for a connection with these ladies. I
continued to stay in touch with them while in Vietnam filling their lives with stories,
many filled with over exarations of our activities in the jungles of Vietnam.
When I returned home I really had little interest in continuing the long distant friendship
with individuals I figured I would never cross paths. Also what could I write about that
would compare to the adventures I had shared with them from Vietnam again slightly if
not extremely exaggerated. The notion that I did not answer the letter that came
postmarked to our address seem to bother my mother and her constant reminder that I
should write them back became an annoyance to me.
Mom then took it upon herself to invite her friends and their daughter over and then
introduce them to me, some I knew from my day in high school or seeing at our local
church. I would exchange small talk with the girls but never made any attempt to invite
them out for a date; I did however succeed into working out an agreement with one of
them to press my shirts for a fee of course. If one was to think I was perhaps on stuck up
or big headed jerk I could defend my actions at the time by knowing in my mind that I
could not be distracted from my studies by any kind of a social life and also even if I had
a desire to find a girlfriend I didn’t have the money to pay for a date.
In order to escape the constant attempts to start a friendship with the daughters of my
mom’s friends I would spend weekends heading for Greeley, Colorado to the campus of
Colorado State College where my younger brother was now attending. Friday and
Saturday nights in Greely allow me to get a real taste of college life as Metro State where
I was attending was an urban had no campus life to speak of. Most of the time we would
hit a 3/2 bar where we would get a couple of pitcher of beer and then hit the dance floor
you could not find a cheaper night out where you could get high meet girls who were not
looking for a relationship of any kind. Sunday afternoon I would head back to Derby and
my folks home and some great leftovers from Sunday dinner and prepare myself for
school the next day and this was my routine.
Mon had really been bugging me to meet this girl that was living with her sister across
the street as always I could always avoid this meeting by keeping my long hours at school
and weekend out of town. I had by now had to look for a part time job so I could have a
little spending money and now I was working 20 hours a week as a mail clerk at a local
hospital. Eight hours every Saturday and Sunday and four hours when I could squeeze
them in during the week plus carrying a 15 hour schedule in school.
It was shortly after the first of the year in 1967 that I arrive at the folk’s home a bit early,
I had not stayed at the school library my usual late hour. I entered the living room to find
mom, her friend from across the street and the friends sister mom had been trying to get
me to meet. After a few introductions I found myself trying to keep from staring at the
girl who was sitting next to my mom’s neighbor. I will never recall what we may have
spoken to each other, perhaps on to say hi and nice meeting you. I do know that I did not
excuse myself as I had done with the other girl and head to my room but stayed so I could
continue gazing at what was the prettiest girl I ever recall laying my eyes on.
I did not bother to sit by stood at the counter that separated the kitchen from the living
room and began sharing in the conversations with the girl and the two ladies although my
mom’s friend was not much older than her sister. In a short while I learned that this
simply gorgeous girl was working in an office in Denver, she had work in her hometown
of Pueblo Colorado in a similar position since she had graduated from a local business
college but wanted to work where she could earn more money so she made the move to
We talked for a while longer then the ladies excused themselves and prepared to leave. I
left the security of the counter and went over to say good bye. Did I make any overtures
to see her again I cannot recall, I do know that either the next day or a day later I called
her and after a brief conversation I ask if she would like to go to a movie to my
amazement she accepted and in reality I had committed myself to what would become my
first date. I was 21 years of age and was about to embark on yes my first real date with a
girl, previously I view what could be called a date as nothing more than hanging around
with my buddies.
The following Saturday evening as I had arranged during my brief phone conversation I
walked across the street and knocked on the door of my neighbor’s house. I recall being
greeted by the brother in law of my first date he invited me in a said the girl would be
ready in a bit. Her sister came out, my mom’s friend, and we talked a bit as her children
scampered around the room. After what seemed an eternity I saw the girl come down the
hall and was as beautiful as she appeared only a couple of days earlier she was even more
stunning. We said hi to each other and in an attempt to avoid the awkwardness of the
moment we headed for the door. We walked across the street heading to my car and I
trying to be the gentleman opened the door for her then proceeded to get in myself start
the car and drive into what would be the most memorable night of my then short life.
I want to say I recalled her asking if I would mind if she sat next to me as the 58 Ford
Fairlane I was driving had a bench seat as did most cars of that day, I must have said yes
because before we came to the first stop sign she was ever so close. Our conversation was
in a short while as if we had known each other for a while. I talked about school and
how it was going for me and she shared what it was like on her job which turned out to
some kind of insurance firm.
I somehow got around to asking if she would like to first have something to eat before we
went to the movie and give my limited income we stopped at a McDonalds for a dinner of
hamburger, fries and a coke. After dinner we went to a theater in Denver for a double
feature and I do not recall to this date what the movies were, I do recall we were shortly
holding hands sitting in the balcony of whatever theater we attended. By now I was
higher than a kite sitting with the most lovely girl I had ever know or for that matter ever
seen, holding hand and then from time to time having her rest her head on my shoulder.
After the movie we were once again in my car heading back home, again she was sitting
next to me this time she did not ask she just was waiting there for me when I got into the
driver side. Was it the first stop light of several after that she leaned over and I felt the
soft touch of her lips? I was now in seventh heaven and without realizing my entire life
had been turned upside down, how I now ask could this happen so quickly. In a short
while we parked where our evening started, in front of our homes, but we did not make
any attempt to exit the car.
We sat there for the longest time, mostly talking about thing that have now been long
forgotten but every once in a while we embrace each other and share a tender kiss. All
was going well until I hit the horn on the steering wheel of the car, for a moment we sat
in total silence expecting porch lights to turn on and our evening would come to an
abrupt end. We waited and nothing happened and this being so we had a quick
conversation and despite the late hour and not wanting the evening to end I started my
car and headed to a more remote location near the airport where lovers parked and watch
the plane arrive and depart.
Did I mentioned this vehicle I drove at the time was hot, could I say perhaps it was my
ride and perhaps not me that attracted this living doll to be sitting with me in the early
hours of the morning watching planes arrive and depart. My 1958 Ford Fairlane was
cherry. The body was in mint condition painted carnival red, a cross between red and
orange slightly raided on the back. It road on oversized tires mounted on chrome Astros
the rim of the day. The interior was maxed to the limited with white and grey tuck and
roll seat covers, carpeted floorboards and every light, yes including the dome light and the
light in the glove box turned on and displayed a soft red tint. Perhaps the most unique
feature of this magic carpet was a four and eight track stereo system and that night we
listen to the sound of the Righteous Brothers, Unchain Melody, the Loving Spoonfuls, Do
You Believe in Magic, the Temptations, My Girl and James Browns, Try Me.
This night I was truly on a magic carpet ride, a flaming red carpet with the one person I
could truly say lit the flames to my every emotion and as I would one day find out that as
Mickey and Silvia would sing Love Is (indeed) Strange, but tonight this was not the case.
At last the time had arrived when this date, my first date, would come to an end and I
once aging started up my car and this time when we arrived in front of our perspective
places of dwelling we exited the car and I walked her to her door. We stood facing each
other as one would expect and after what seem an eternity, kissed and said goodnight.
It seems I had no sooner fallen asleep when I was awakened with the activity of a Sunday
.morning at my folk’s home. It was Sunday and this meant getting ready for church and
yes I was not excluded from this ritual unless I was getting ready to go to my Sunday job.
I had taken the opportunity to inform my employer ahead of time that I would not be able
to work this particular Sunday and if he could ask one of the 40 hour workers to cover for
me. I really had no special reason for asking for this request, in reality I needed the
money and I had not anticipated the late evening with the girl next door.
I got out of bed, cleaned up and dressed and served myself a hot cup of coffee and started
and to read the paper when I was asked if I was going to work by guess who, yup mom.
When I informed her that I was not the next question was, am I going to church. I
indicated that in fact I was on to be asked if I had invited the girl next door if she would
like to go to church with me to which I answered I had already asked. Yes although
while in a state of total euphoria I maintain the state of mind to invite my new love, at
least from my perspective to church and she accepted. I made a quick call to confirm if
she still wanted to attend church and she did and I proceeded to pick her up and we went
to church together.
Strangely we did not, or at least I cannot recall that we were not inclining to spend that
Sunday doing anything together, probably because we were both exhausted from a very
late night, or should I say an early morning together. After church we went back home,
she to hers and me to mine where I headed back to back where I drifted off to sleep
reflecting on my last 12 hours or so and the wonderful girl who had shared those hours
I went to sleeping thinking of the girl next door and woke up in the morning with the
thought of her still on my mind. I made every attempt to keep my mind on my classes
and maintain my routine of my studies, working a few hours however when I would pull
up in front of my folks home I would have but one desire and that was to see the girl next
door. I knew she was home because I would see her car parked across the street but I did
not see her and could only wish I could.
Every evening I engaged myself in this debate, should I call her, maybe she really didn’t
want to talk to me again, maybe I should have not acted so hastily in my innocent actions
on our date. The agony of knowing where I stood was killing me. Was this torment I
now was experiencing that which is called love, had I fallen in love, man I didn’t have
the slightest idea. I somehow managed to get to Thursday of that first week and I could
not stand it no longer and mustering all the courage I could to call her number.
Someone answered, I am sure it was one of the older kids cause I could him calling out
to her that the guy across the street was on the phone. My heart dropped when I once
again heard her voice even more mesmerizing then before. We chatted for a bit and
things seemed a bit awkward I would later find out as to the reasons why. I then
managed to sum up the courage to ask if she would like to go out for a drive and was
more than relived when she said sure, just give a chance to freshen up a little.
I waited for 15 or 20 minutes then walk across the street, once again rang the doorbell
and was greeted at the door by this living doll once again, she stepped outside and we
walked over to my car. Once again sitting next to me we started our conversation with
how much we enjoyed the events leading to the past weekend. We talked and talked and
just enjoyed each other company before I had to get her home after all she had to go to
work the next day and I had to go to school, but we did set a date for Friday the next day.
It did not take long for our romance to nurture into at least from my perspective a more
then meaningful commitment, again at least from my perspective. I had by now
completed my second quarter of college and in all honesty was not fairing to well. I made
up the class in English I had failed the previous quarter but had now failed two other
classes. I did not have the money to pay to retake both classes so I dropped down to
taking 9 hours the third quarter of school and three hours of these was a retake so as far
as the criteria of the GI Bill was concerned I was now a half time student.
Adding to the problem of my struggles in school I was having a more difficult time
dealing with the constant interference with living in the home of my parents. They
somehow seemed to have forgotten I was a 21 year old man, and veteran of an ongoing
war and no longer the kid they had raised for some 18 years. I needed to get out of this
situation and the only way I could think of was to get a place of my own which meant I
needed a full time job. I approached my employer at the hospital if there was anything
available that could pay me for more hours a week with my goal to continue my
education. It just so happened a position was available which turned out to be another
employee in the mail room and so I began to now work a 40 work week.
I then began to look for a place to move to and found a studio apartment that was almost
half of my pay but was close to the school and not far from my job and so I packed up my
belonging and moved out on my own. The one difficulty with my new arrangement was I
now had less time and in fact I didn’t have that much time to begin with to spend with the
girl I had fallen head over heels in love with. Added to this situation I had less money to
spend when we were able to go out on a date, my only hope was that she felt the same
way about me as I did about her.
By the end of my first year of school I was behind 12 credit hours and I now had a need
to try and pick up at least half of those during the summer quarter and continue working
40 hours a week. I was picking up 16 hours of work by taking the Saturday and Sunday
shift which gave me two days off during the week and those two days were during the
week. I had also invited my brother to move in with me if he could pay at least a third of
the rent on the apartment. He did however this last about a month and he moved out. In
the meantime I continue dating the girl next door or as now was the case the girl that
lived across the street from my folks.
One weekend her family was in town for some event and they invited me to go to a local
amusement park for the day. I switch shifts with a co-worker so I could get the Saturday
off and we all went to Lakeside where I became friends with a brother who was with his
girlfriend and like myself was a vet and about my same age. When talking to his sister he
as did other members of the family called her by a nickname which was ever so cute.
We spent the day riding almost all the rides and as the day ended we decided to take a
boat ride, boarding the boat I sat next to my girl and addressed her by her nickname and
was quickly told not to call her by that name which stunned me for a second as she had
never addressed me in the tone of that moment. I pretty much was walking on this ice
the rest of the day and into the evening when we later went to a local club to have some
drinks and dance to a Latino group.
I wanted to be alone with my date however when we arrived at her sister’s house where
all the family had gathered she indicated that she had to get ready because she was now
on vacation and would be going back to Pueblo to spend a week there with her family.
They the family was planning to return early the next morning so she simply ended the
night with a quite goodbye and sadly no kiss. I drove home feeling a bit dejected as this
day had been a real downer and I was now not going to see or talked to her for a least a
The following week came to a standstill; the length of each day seemed to have doubled to
a 48 hour period instead of 24. When I managed to get to sleep each night I would wake
up the next day total exhausted know I would have to endure an unending day before I
would once again attempt to get some sleep and rest? Was this what love was about being
in total agony when the girl you loved was not close by, when you could not hear her
voice or touch her hand. Was love this ache when you knew you could not look into her
soft brown eyes or touch her silky black hair when you could not hold her in your arms or
feel her warm embrace? Could I make it to the weekend and her return back to Denver
and in all honesty I was tempted to take a ride to Pueblo just too perhaps spend a few
hours with her. Was this what love was about.
At last the weekend came and knowing she would be back by Sunday I called her sister’s
number to see if she had returned right before I ended my shift in the late afternoon to
my dismay she had not. Later on that evening I called from a payphone not far from my
apartment and was again I was informed that she was not available which troubled me a
bit. Not available or not yet back it struck me as odd that this was the answer to my call.
As I attempted to reach her each day at the end of my shift or when my class was over I
continued to be told she was not free or available and because I did not have a phone she
could not call be back. That week on a Thursday I once again made my nightly call and
this time I heard just a minute I’ll tell her you on the phone and in a moment or she I
heard the sweet love sound of her voice. I sensed from her first words there was a
difference and tone that was almost distant and no longer the warm and caring sound of
the weeks and months before.
We talked for a while and I asked if she would like to go out the next evening perhaps to a
movie and she indicated maybe to a drive in movie. I was so glad to hear that I said I
would pick her up the next day maybe we could get a bite to eat before we went to the
show but she said she would probably have dinner at home before I picked her up. No
matter I knew I would now be seeing her within the next 24 hours and I was heading for
that number 9 cloud.
As I noted I served in the army and my little experience on the high seas were nothing
short of a disaster so I was ever so thankful I opted not to join the navy. I did however
hung to a saying that could perhaps be addressed to those who sailed the seas, “Red skies
in the morning, sailors take warning and so on”. No the skies were not red if anything
the fact that I was going to be with my girl everything was now rosy so had the skies been
red I perhaps would have not noticed. What did server as a warning was when I went to
pick up the girl next door she was not alone but had her little niece with her and I was
informed she would be coming with us. I believed I saw the warning signs of this not
being a good thing.
We got into the car and the little girl sat between the two of us, not a good sign given she
could have had the entire back seat as I would not expect her sit next to the door. I asked
if there was any particular movie she wanted to see and so I suggested a film that was
quite popular at the time Doctor Zhivago staring Omar Sharif which even to this day
stands as a classic.
Doctor Zhivago as many who have sat through this classic movie is an intense and long
production and as we sat through it we had very little conversation. Adding to this
situation was having a child between us and a heaviness that had not existed before. I
asked about her vacation and the time she had with her family and friends and she shared
tidbits of her past week. Then out of the blue she said she had quit her job with the
company she was with and was moving back to Pueblo, needless to say this hit me like a
ton of bricks, and I was stunned. She then let me know her brother was coming out the
following day to help her move back to Pueblo and she no longer would be living with her
sister, again I had no words to deal with this new revelation on her part. I could not even
think to ask, well what about us.
I saw no reason to continue watching the movie and informed her I would take her home
and we drove back in total silence, I cannot remember exchanging one word. I pulled up
in from of her house, she and her niece exited the car and she walked away, nothing said
and no goodbyes. I could not even grasp the concept of what just had taken place I just
went back to my apartment.
Late the next day I called hoping to get some sort of explanation for the sudden turn of
events. It turned out her brother answered the phone and he indicated she was not
available so the conversation turned to what we were up to. I then invited him to join me
at a local bar for some beers and a group I enjoyed and sat in with once in a great while
and he said it sounded good.
We got together later on that evening and we talked jive, some army war stories and other
things that were of little importance to me. I finally asked if he knew why the sudden
decision on his sister part to leave Denver and go back home. Guy to guy he spelled it out
as basic as one friend could to another, although we were not that well acquainted. When
she had returned back to Pueblo on her vacation she started dating her ex-boyfriend of
many years once again. They had been dating since high school and a couple of year
back he had cheated on her and they broke up and she went to Denver. Now they were
back together and it seemed they were serious about each other and a wedding could very
well be in the plan. Her brother felt for me but this was between them and he was just
being her brother and I could not blame him for this, despite the fact I was totally
It was the Everly Brother that sang the word to this song and that night as I drove home
they rang in my head and in my heart. “Love hurts love scars love wounds and mars -
Any heart not tough nor strong enough - To take a lot of pain take a lot of pain - Love is
like a cloud pulls a lot of rain - Love hurts, love hurts”. Frankly I cannot recall pain as
intense as I was now feeling. I wanted to die. I wanted to cry but couldn’t. I wanted to
get angry but the emotion of anger did not reflect in my mind or heart. I could only feel
hurt, a hurt so intense that in some respect I felt that I no longer had no life left in me. I
hold it true, whate'er befall; - I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and
lost - Than never to have loved at all.
Crap! Yes if you believe this then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you for
a bargain. Does one ever get over the trauma of being dumped by that person you gave
the only entity you solely possess, your heart? A couple of days later I had a day off my
job, I did not feel like going to school so I filled my car with gas and grabbed my four and
eight track tapes and started driving east of Denver. No rhyme or reason, I had never
been east of Denver and the I-70 route out of town seems like a good idea.
Music was the element that always seemed to bring me back down to earth and yet
provided me with the escape from the misery that life deals us. This day I could not seem
to find that tune to drown my misery. None of my favorite artist of the day could bring
forth the melody and lyrics to numb the pain in my mind and heart.
In the early days of car stereo you could not purchase music already on the media you
desired so one would take the vinyl records to a little shop on South Broadway. You
would purchase blank four or eight track tapes, the four’s were cheaper and you would
load your music on to the tapes. I had a few eight track tapes but for the most part I had
a decent collection of four track tapes with the music I most enjoyed. However as I drove
east on I-70 not one song touched the pain I felt until I play a song by The Seekers
entitled Georgy Girl. “Hey there, Georgy girl
Swingin' down the street so fancy-free - Nobody you meet could ever see the loneliness
there - inside you”.
Truly no one would ever see or understand the loneliness on feel when love walks away
from you and the uniqueness of this manifestation is that only you know the reality of
such a feeling. Just as the love I felt for the girl next door had been mine and mine alone
so was the loneliness I felt was mine and mine alone. Just as I had cherished that love, I
would now cherish the loneliness and move on. This is not to say I would like or enjoy it
but I would in my own way somehow learn to cherish it.
The reality of this day and time in my life was I was on the fast track to nowhere. I had a
job that paid a minimum wage and no career path to speak of. My education or attempt
at an education was both a financial and academic challenge give the amount of classes I
was failing in. My attempt at meeting and establishing a lifelong relationship based on
my emotional well being had just been flushed down the toilet and headed for the sea of
the heart break. I needed to get a grip on my situation and focus on a path that would
enable me to make something of myself instead of the miserable being I had become.
When I asked myself what did I know the only answer that came to mind was the military
so I figured I would reenlist and be once again a soldier? There was one major problem
to this direction and this was a little war in Southeast Asia, the country of Vietnam. My
challenge was to get into a field where I would use my mental abilities as oppose to what
little physical facilities I possessed so as not to end up back in the jungle looking for the
Viet Cong or worse yet the RNVN regulars. The answer was simple, reenlist but join the
Air Force because there may be a lesser chance of getting killed in that branch of the
military then the army and for sure the Marines, as note before I would never be a sailor.
My next step was to go the Air Force recruiter who was more than happy to see me and
after a good discussion he assured me that I could reenlist at the rank I had achieve in the
Army. What was even more encouraging was I could after basic Air Force training I
could enroll in their program that would continue my desire to advance in the field of
cryptology. Before asking to volunteer as a door gunner in Vietnam I was a
cryptographic equipment operator, the best job a lower grade enlisted man or women
could hold. I did the day I visited the Air Force recruiter everything but sign the contract
that would committee me to four years back in the service of the good ole USA.
It was at this point as I was informing my co-workers at the hospital I was going to quit
to go back into the military that one of these worker suggested I first apply with a
company called Western Electric which a in the last year or so opened a regional office in
a Denver suburb called Aurora. He figured with my being a vet and almost a year of
college I could get hired there fairly easy. Having no real plans at the time except
reenlistment I located the employment office of the Western Electric company, I thought
this was the place that built refrigerators, and applied for an entry level position. Having
no phone of my own I was instructed to call in a few days and see if I could try out for
one of the positions. A couple of days later I called and was instructed to come in for an
interview and a new chapter in my life was opened.
It was just as I was hired for an entry level position with Western Electric, the first of a
total of three Bell System firms I would be employed with for the next almost 39 years. It
was almost to the same day that I started working for Western that I was aske to go on a
blind date with a girl who was the niece of my aunt through marriage. Though much
younger than myself I could say our ages were closer together than that of the girl that
had more or less just dumped me. I guess I could conclude that as life turned out I would
now have the chance to grow up with someone more or less my age as noted by how
mature I would now come to find out and yes the next chapter of my life.