I fell in love for the first time when I was 9--with a much older man. He was a former Rugby Union player. He'd played for Ireland and for the British Lions, probably the best fly half ever (but then I'm biased). And he stayed with us one winter in the Rugby season.
But not only was he a brilliant athlete, a charmer with the gift of the gab (he was Irish, after all), he was a thoroughly good man. When he heard I played softball and netball at school, he bought me a netball hoop and showed me how Donald Bradman used to repeatedly hit a cricket ball in the air on his bat to improve his hand-eye co-ordination. He was a gentleman who seemed as happy drinking tea with my mother or throwing a ball with a little girl as he was going out with the lads. And he made everyone laugh. The time he imitated the captain of the French Rugby team sticks in my mind. I mean, have you ever heard an Irishman imitate a Frenchman? A perfect hero for a romance novel, though he would have laughed off the idea. Did I mention he was modest, too?
As the years went on, he still wrote to the family and I wrote back, though I admit I'm not the best correspondent in the world. When I was married, he sent a beautiful marriage creed and on the birth of my first son, he sent an Irish Rugby teddy bear that unzips and turns inside out to become a football. Sure and they're never too young to start playing Rugby, he'd say.
When I was in my twenties I finally visited Ireland for a few days and stayed with friends who were living there. I had his telephone number, knew where he lived.
But I agonized. I worried. Would he be the same? Would he even want to see me? Would we have anything to talk about after all these years? You see, he'd become such a mythical figure in my mind, such a hero (and no, I wasn't still in love with him, being happily married by that time!) I simply choked when I thought of meeting him again.
I finally plucked up the courage to call. And I missed him. I didn't manage to make contact until after I'd left Ireland, and it was too late.
I don't know when I'll get to the Emerald Isle again. I wish I'd seen him when I'd had the chance.
Now, our Joanie T is off to Ireland (yay JT!) and it made me think of this man, and all the opportunities we miss when we're too diffident or too scared to take a chance. So after I finish writing this blog, I'm going to write to him. And maybe one day, we'll meet again.
Do you have any regrets? A person you lost contact with, a manuscript that's polished to perfection but you haven't sent out for fear of rejection? How about joining me and make a resolution to change that today?