Nancy Kalish, Ph.D.

The Lost Love Chronicles:
Reunions & Memories of First Love


In 1997, I reported in Lost & Found Lovers that parental disapproval of the romance was the most common reason the first loves broke up. In many cases, parents actively manipulated the breakup. Occasionally siblings interfered and harmed the romances as well.

Some lost and found lovers are bitter about the past, while others are more philosophical and forgiving. Middle aged couples voice regrets to me about the years without their first loves—years of youthfulness, when having children together would have been possible. And they are remorseful about their divorces, as they reflect upon the hurt they caused their innocent children and ex-spouses, which could have been prevented if the lost loves had been allowed to stay together years ago. The Prince Charles, Camilla, and Diana triangle epitomizes the damage that can result when young couples are separated by parents.

Reunited couples who are parents treat their adolescents with special sensitivity. Because they remember their own romantic difficulties and understand the enduring nature of first love, they are reluctant to interfere with their teenagers’ romances.

I hope these love stories will remind parents to take teen love seriously!

* * *

I met the love of my life in the summer of 1955. I was visiting my best friend, Debbie, when her boyfriend stopped by to see her. He brought his friend, Al--a tall, good looking boy with sandy hair and green eyes. It was love at first sight for me, and he told me much later that he knew I was the girl he would marry.

As the guys left that afternoon, Al asked me to go to a movie with him the following weekend, and I gladly accepted. He stood me up. When he called a few days later, he said his old car had broken down and his mother would not let him use hers. He had no way to call me because he did not know my last name, or Debbie's, either. By the time he finally got the telephone number and called, I was angry at being stood up and not too interested in talking to him. But I agreed to go out with him the next weekend. We had a great time, and Al still teases me about my refusal to kiss him on that first date. I told him, "I am not that kind of girl."

We saw each other every day that summer. He had already graduated from high school, had recently been discharged from the Army, and was working at a local factory. We arranged our dates around his work shifts. We went dancing and to local amusement parks and movies. It was a glorious summer. We were very much in love.

When I went back to school that fall, it was my senior year. My father told Al that he would not be allowed to see me every day during the school year, and if my grades went down he would not be able to see me at all. I made sure my grades were excellent and I was on the honor roll. When spring came, Al took me to my Senior Prom. My dress was pink and fluffy. He gave me a beautiful pearl and gold ring. I still have that ring.

We knew that we would be getting married. Al picked me up for lunch and sometimes after work. We spent every waking hour together that we could. He put a down payment on a house halfway between my parents' home and his mother's house. We envisioned a wonderful life together with two children. By spring of that year, it was time to become engaged and begin making wedding plans.

On Sunday afternoons, we often went to the home of his aunt and uncle. His Aunt Sally said she would invite Al's mother and my parents for dinner. Once that occurred, I could wear his engagement ring. It would be official. The wedding plans could be made. Al bought the ring and kept it tucked away until the time was right.

Al and I were not invited to Aunt Sally's home to attend dinner with our parents that Sunday afternoon. When my parents got home from the dinner, they said they needed to speak to me--I was told that I would never see Al again. The relationship was ended. There was no explanation.

I saw him for the next six months or so by sneaking out, but my parents made it increasingly more difficult for me to get away from home. They insisted that I call them when I was at Debbie's house, or anywhere else, and they gave me unrealistic curfews. It just got to be too difficult. Al never knew that this was going on.

Finally I met a young man at work and began dating him. My parents had grown tired of dealing with their adolescent daughter and knew that I would return to Al if I could, so they thought this man was the perfect solution. They wanted me to marry him, and I did as I was told. I had four wonderful children with him. During all the years they were growing up, I often thought of Al. I wondered if life had been good to him. I also felt guilty because I had walked out of his life without telling him what was happening in mine.

Five years ago, Al telephoned my mother; he was wondering how I was. My mother would not tell him my phone number, or take his. But she did tell me all this a few days later, and that was all it took. I contacted a company that conducts computer searches, and they found him for me. I decided to write to him; that way if he chose not to answer, it would be easier. Three days later, I received his phone call.

His voice had not changed one iota in those forty years. He told me he is married, with three children. We decided to meet for lunch, at a quaint little Italian restaurant.

I arrived early, and there he was. Our hug felt as if we had never been apart. Forty years melted into oblivion. We walked to a park to sit and talk. A wedding was taking place there. He told me that he never stopped thinking of me. Everywhere he went, he always looked for me. And he said he always loved me and always would. But he is married.

I have talked to my mother, since this meeting, to find out what happened at his Aunt Sally's house that Sunday long ago. My mother said that Al’s aunt told her that she should not allow me to marry into that family, because I deserved better. Al's mother was an alcoholic, but my parents had already known that. And Al never drank. Neither Al nor I believe my mother's explanation, but she is the only surviving person of the group in attendance that day.

Al and I love each other dearly, and will savor the moment. Here we are in the midst of the same feelings we had when we were young, and again our relationship cannot progress. At some point, we know that there is a good chance that our times together will have to end.

Al still has my engagement ring. I have never seen it.

* * *

Selected Works

Nonfiction. NEW IN PAPERBACK. 2005.
Lost & Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances
Kalish's landmark study of lost love reunions, including love stories in the couples' own words. NEW in PAPERBACK, 2005.
The Lost Love Chronicles: Reunions & Memories of First Love
Delightful, heartbreaking, remarkable, and inspiring true stories of early love.