The clipping I carry in my wallet is yellow and brittle with age, natural enough after 22 years. I still remember the first time I saw it in the “personals” column on a warm summer afternoon that long ago August: “Blond, petite, professional, female, nonsmoker, nondrinker. Enjoys classical music, health food, bicycle riding, long walks and quiet evenings. Seeking male 35-55 years old for long lasting relationship.” I had studied the piano, bicycled for exercise and followed a healthy life style. It was the ad I would have written had I listed what I was seeking in a female. I had been alone for a long time and despaired of ever finding a soul mate. I quickly answered, thinking it was too good to be true and that it would somehow come to naught. Shortly thereafter I received a positive response. My heart leapt, and I called her. She lived not far away. We arranged to meet at a local coffee shop for introductions. I thought she was beautiful, and we seemed to have a lot in common, including the piano. We made a date to see a play at a nearby theater. After that we saw more plays, attended concerts and met for dinner dates at a small Italian restaurant. We were drawn to each other. Short months later I asked for her hand and obtained her parents’ permission to marry. And now, after all these years, we are still taking those long walks together.

Conrad Conero and Mary Ann Nilsson