The first person in the chat room that I really, totally trusted was a lady we all called Lona. I was "Mo" in the chat room; my AOL screen name was Mo (for Missouri) plus the last four digits of my phone number. Very imaginative, right?
A couple of folks in Texas decided to have a get-together for the chat room folks; Lona, who lived in Arkansas, offered to give me a ride to the "reunion" as we called it. Cliff was having none of that; he said Lona was probably a perverted old man who was going to kill me. So he drove all the way to Texas to protect me from Lona.
Once he met the chat room group, he knew I was in good hands. After that, he trusted me to fly to the far end of Tennessee alone, or ride along with a Kansas couple to Kentucky. He especially loved Lona. We spent a night at her house once, and ate her special pancakes for breakfast.
When Lona's husband died in 2000, I was the first person she told after she contacted her daughters. Later, she and I flew to Virginia together to meet with friends there.
A few years back, she had some very serious health problems that led to the discovery of cancer in her body. Luckily she went into remission and enjoyed life for awhile. In April of this year, the cancer returned. She died on June 14th, which happens to be mine and Cliff's anniversary.
Even though we didn't keep in contact much except for an occasional email, I will miss her every day. The world isn't quite as happy a place without my good friend who loved people and always had a smile.
Put in a good word for me and my family, won't you, Lona?