Charly and I met several years before our wedding. I frequented a local toy store for though I had no children, they were very much a part of my every day life—nephews, nieces, kids of close friends, and children seen in my professional contacts. My parents lived far away at a distance separated by five states. The children of friends were considered my family—at least I often thought of them that way. Sometimes “feeling” part of their family can be a painful experience. You share in the family experience, but these experiences unkindly remind you from time to time that you are not a family member. You care and you are cared about. You give and they give back. You love and they love back. The cold realization, however, is that eventually you leave as everyone else stays. Even your friends can at times be unkind without intending to do so and they typically have no awareness or knowledge of their silent transgressions.
Having said all that, children and having a childlike nature were the common threads that brought Charly and me together. Being immature or I believe the politically correct identification of being maturationally challenged can have its benefits. Charly was the assistant manager of a local family-owned toy and hobby store. Although it was a very large store, the owners were quite family oriented. They took interest and pride in serving the shopper, including the smallest ones who otherwise were typically admonished for touching, dropping, breaking, or innocently staring at amazingly awesome store merchandise. Charly was perceptibly charming and accommodating. I attributed her charm to her kind temperament and warm smile. If love at first sight exists, Charly’s impact on me lends credence to that romantic idiom. She had, excuse the cliché, the kind of smile that made your troubles melt away as soon as you walked in the store. Charly paid attention to detail and her compulsiveness showed in the assistance that she provided you. It was not long before I shopped at the toy store for self-serving reasons. I shopped more often than needed. Charly seemed aware of this, but she did not appear to mind, complain, or file a protective restraining order.
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