Valentine’s Day every day for long-lost sweethearts

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Sandy Millin was determined there would be no more men.

Her two divorces weren’t the only things getting her down. Two years earlier, her hernia surgery went terribly awry and she woke up from a three-month coma to realize she would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She was resigned to being alone.

Then one morning, her phone rang. It was a paralegal from her lawyer’s office. An old boyfriend had tracked her down and wanted to reconnect.

She scribbled down his phone number. Memories of Chuck Marshall were good. Definitely good, she said.

So Millin took a deep breath and dialed.

They’d met in 1962 at a party in San Antonio. Sandy was in high school, living with her mother and sisters while her dad was serving in Korea.

Chuck was also in the military and lived nearby Lackland Air Force base.

During the party, he spotted a cute girl. Amid the blaring ’60s music, Chuck asked Sandy to dance.

“We hit it off,” said Sandy. He was attracted to her ability to draw, paint and sculpt. She treasured his good looks and their endless conversations.

For two years, Chuck and Sandy were inseparable. Chuck brought Sandy to his first high school reunion.

But a year later, Sandy’s father got transferred to an Air Force base in Charleston, South Carolina. Chuck visited in 1964, but then left the service and moved to Houston. “We kind of lost contact,” he said. He became a commercial photographer and married, coincidentally, to a woman named Sandra.

Meanwhile, Sandy married a military man in Monk’s Corner, South Carolina. “A marriage to get away from my parents,” she said. “That wasn’t love.”

Chuck’s 38-year marriage was a little better, but in the last few years, things got dull, he said.

In 2004, Chuck went to another high school reunion in Pittsburgh. He had a great time catching up with old friends. But the one person he hadn’t heard from was Sandy. “I had no idea what I was going to do; I just wanted to talk to her . . . so I hit the Internet.”

After a few tries on free and paid search sites, Chuck wasn’t much closer to finding her. He started searching county records. That’s when he discovered Sandy embroiled in lawsuits stemming from her surgery. He called her lawyer’s office and talked to the paralegal. A half-hour later — two months after he’d started searching — the phone rang and it was Sandy.

They talked for over an hour, catching up on the past 41 years.

“It was almost like we hadn’t been apart,” he added. “It was amazing.”

“It was like being awakened from a long, horrible dream, and finding there is something good out there,” she said.

“For the longest time after I got divorced, I was in the mindset that I wasn’t going to get married again. I just didn’t know what love was,” she said. “Then, low and behold, he drops in.”

From a story by Janette Neuwahl in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Daytona, Florida.

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