Never Hurt the Heart that Loves You
This is a story of hearts lost and found. If you've ever doubted the existence of true abiding love, consider the case of Christine DeLong.
She was fresh out of high school and living on her own for the first time in a "handy-man special" with no furniture, electricity or running water. That's when she met Scooter, a retail store manager who worked for a national automotive company.
"I had special-ordered floor mats for my Camaro Z28," said Christine. "That's how it all began."
While they were dating, Scooter helped wire her electricity and bought the entire window display from a local furniture store. After a year-and-a-half, they got engaged and he sold his house to move in with her; another three years went by and they bought a home in the country just a stone's throw from Christine's parents. It was a storybook love affair, except for one little detail: Scooter was twenty-five years her senior.
"There was always a negative force with my family and friends that I really should find somebody my age," said Christine. "Even though I was content, I was always wondering, what's wrong with my situation?"
She and Scooter had been together eight years when Christine made a decision that would ultimately teach her a valuable lesson. She left Scooter for a younger man, without realizing the pain this would cause. He was so devastated that within three days he had packed his car and relocated to his hometown of Amarillo, Texas.
"I didn't realize how good my situation was until it was gone," admits Christine, who deeply regretted not marrying Scooter. Neither in her new relationship, nor in any that would follow, was she ever able to find the satisfaction she had enjoyed with Scooter. After nine months with her new partner, she came home from a trip one day and was told not to unpack her suitcase; a new woman would be taking her place. "It was terrible," she said. "The shoe was on the other foot."
Years went by and Christine remained unlucky in love. She ran her own business called Lollypop the Clown, which Scooter had helped her start, and ten years after their break-up he called directory assistance to obtain her work number. Thus began a period of phone communication that was as sporadic as it was casual. She was heartbroken when she learned of his engagement to the woman who would be his wife for 17 years. Then two years ago, Christine had a brief marriage of her own that would end with her being abandoned again.
She was already divorced when her mother called to say there was a message for Christine on the answering machine. It was Scooter and he needed a friend. His wife had just passed away after a long illness, during which Scooter nursed her faithfully. Twenty years after their break-up, Christine and Scooter decided to reunite, and he flew to Hilton Head to see her.
"When he got off the plane, I didn't know what to expect," said Christine, recalling that both of them were so excited they were shaking. "What I noticed first about him was that he had aged, but that's on the outside. What his core consists of is every woman's dream. He and I are just so connected."
Now they talk on the phone everyday, and though Christine isn't sure what the future holds, she knows without a doubt that her heart is finally home. "It's a given," she said, radiating joy. "And trust me, whatever he needs, I'll be there. I'm not going anywhere, but with him."
Hometown: Orefield, PA
Came to Hilton Head: 11 years ago
Hobbies: boating, star-gazing, flora and fauna
Life's lesson: "I never closed my heart, even though I'd been hurt. All those years I walked with an angel over me."