Category Archives: PerBlog

Missing Seniors and the Real Estate Scam

It’s shocking how much can happen over the course of two weeks. These last two weeks in my life have been highly stressful and emotional, and it all went down with a single phone call.

 

The Phone Call

 

On Monday, June 26, 2017, I began receiving numerous phone calls and text messages from someone asking if I knew a Brenda Gibson. Not recognizing the number, I was hesitant to answer but the person kept persisting. Finally that evening, I texted the number back asking, “Who are you and what do you want?” I received an immediate reply of, “This is Zohar. Do you know Brenda Gibson?” My first thought: What the fuck is a Zohar? I replied, “That is my estranged mother.” After a pause, the phone rang, the caller ID the same number.

 

Upon speaking with this Zohar, he informed me that he was a real estate broker and had seen a listing of a house up for auction. The address he gave me was the house I grew up in down in Fort Lauderdale. He informed me that he was trying to locate my mother and grandmother, whose name was listed as the owner, because the house had been foreclosed and was going to auction the next morning at 10 a.m. He also said he’d interviewed the neighbors who said they hadn’t seen either of them in at least a year.

 

As I was trying to process all this information, he also informed me that neither party could be located and told me I had 16 hours to locate both my mother, the owner, and my mother, her power of attorney. Not only that, I had to be in Fort Lauderdale at 10 a.m. to appear in court and stop the sale so that he could buy the home, refurbish it, and re-sell it, allegedly to split the profits with my mother and grandmother. This guy immediately threw my red flags up as being an underhanded real estate shark looking to prey on the elderly.

 

I told him first of all, I do not live in the area so there is no way I am jeopardizing my job to take off, go out of town, and go to court on the word of someone I have never even heard of. I asked him to provide me any proof of what he was claiming and he did not provide any, only further pushing me to do the impossible within just a few hours time. This utterly pissed me off and I hung up on him, beginning my own research.

 

The Search

 

The first thing I did was to look up this person who called. All I had was a first name and a phone number, which turned up a real estate sales license to a Zohar Gazit with a home office in Hallandale, FL. The license was only issued at the end of May this year, so that was another red flag. His phone number also came back as a Google Voice number. Red flag #3. He’s also associated with a relatively new LLC called Florida State Trust LLC, Premier Mortgage Lending (as a sales person, which is where the Google Voice number answers), as well as President of Nahar Investment Corp. There are eight company associations altogether, the most recent being formed only 5 months ago.

 

Putting this agency/broker to the side, I then called on a friend in my grandmother’s area to help me do some research. We turned up the auction listing and other documents, including an affidavit from the foreclosing bank’s attorney in which they hired a process server to locate and serve my grandmother the foreclosure papers however the statement from December 2016 showed she could not be located and her death could not be verified. So there was one mystery. The second mystery is that my mother was afraid to leave the house and did not go out, so where could she be? I knew she was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, so the first place I started checking was area hospitals, none of which would confirm her presence. Next, I tried assisted living facilities, psychiatric facilities, and hospices for both women, and still came up with nothing.

 

After the area facilities were exhausted, I moved on to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. I received a response e-mail from them advising me to reach out to one of two contacts, which I called the next morning. To my utter shock, the Lieutenant told me he couldn’t file a missing person’s report because it had “been too long” since they were last seen. Since when does that matter? I told him these were two seniors, both mentally and physically disabled, and were MISSING since their home got foreclosed a year ago. He said all he could do was run their names through a database but he wouldn’t file a missing person’s report. I still can’t believe how uncaring he was but for my own protection, I will not give his name here.

 

On to some better resources I hoped, I also reached out to the Sun Sentinel and Channel 7 News, neither of which ever responded to me. I then reached out to numerous elder-centered organizations in the area and left voice mail after voice mail, as I was trying to do all this research outside my working hours, which left me very limited in actually reaching offices that were open after I got off work.

 

Dead Ends

 

I was not getting anywhere. The time for the auction had come and gone and the house was sold to the highest bidder. Along with the house, everything in it, including 60 years of family history, now belonged to a corporation who purchased it to flip it and make some quick money. I thought my dealings with Zohar were over at that point, but this was only the beginning.

 

Zohar placed several calls to me that day with a new plan: Find my grandmother, get a lawyer, declare the sale invalid because there was now an heir, let him buy the house, flip it, and split the profits with me. He said he was going to send me a contract of our “partnership” that I should sign and overnight to him. More deadlines, he needed this done right away. Needless to say, no contract ever showed up.

 

When questioned about this alleged contract, he changed his story again, saying he was going to have his associate “Richard” draw up a contract, drive it up to me, have me sign it and get it notarized, and drive it back down to him. We’re talking a 4 hour round trip and I work during the day. I thought: Who in their right mind does business like that? I told them both on the phone if you’re sending me anything, just send a PDF that can be signed electronically. Why would they go through all that trouble when e-mail is instant and secure? Another red flag. Zohar then wanted a copy of my ID to “verify my identity.” Hah – NO. Sorry, but NO. Another red flag.

 

Once again, no paperwork arrived. I still couldn’t get any information out of Zohar, including any attorney information or Richard’s last name or phone number. So for the third or fourth time, Zohar’s story changes and now he tells me that this Richard associate of his has secured an attorney who specializes in foreclosures and probate and that this attorney would work the case on contingency, requiring zero funds from me and that Zohar would pay for everything needed to have the house put in my name as heir and that we would not split the proceeds of the flip between Zohar, myself, and the attorney. Um…. it doesn’t work that way. Again, I was waiting for an e-mail from the attorney and again, no documents ever arrived. Are we surprised?

 

At this point, I’m done with Zohar and I just want to find my grandmother. I accept that the house is gone. It’s not the first time I’ve lost everything and my mother and grandmother had no way to upkeep the house anyway, as it needed too many major repairs, including electrical, plumbing, and roofing. My mother and I have never had a relationship and in her last letter to me, she blatantly told me never to contact her again (this is all over my being close to my father and their own personal issues that she cannot separate me from). So, all that remained was finding my grandmother.

 

The break came the next Friday morning, July 7. I received a call from the Aging and Disabled Resource Center. They were more than willing to help me and within just a few minutes, they were able to provide me with both my mother’s and my grandmother’s forwarding addresses and contact numbers. Their last known addresses showed that my mother was in assisted living in Lauderhill and my grandmother was in a nursing home in Tamarac. This is odd because it’s the first time in their lives that they’ve been separated. My friend called both places while I was at work (silently freaking out), and let me know on my next break that she was able to verify both of them at the locations given. She even provided some additional information.

 

I immediately called both places and asked to be put on their emergency contact lists. I then was able to speak with my grandmother by phone who, even at 89 years old and after several years, still remembered me and my daughter and wanted to see us. Heartbreakingly, she informed me she had lung cancer and had been in the nursing facility for a year. The good news is her mind is still sharp as a tack and she only has little lapses of short term memory loss now and then. Otherwise, she’s mentally good.

 

She also told me that people were there in her room to talk to her about the house. Now this was a real red flag. Regrettably, I’d given both their forwarding addresses to Zohar under the stretch of an idea that he actually was going to do something to reverse the sale. He knew however that my mother was my grandmother’s power of attorney and that my grandmother could not deal with any of this on her own. Within two hours of having the address, people were there in person harassing and confusing my grandmother before I’d have a chance to get down there. I sent Zohar a text and a voice mail and got no response.

 

The Reunion

 

Saturday morning, July 8, my daughter and I along with my sister in law began the two hour drive to my grandmother’s nursing home. Once we got there, she recognized us instantly and we spend 3 hours talking with her. She caught us up on what was happening with my mother, who was not there at the time, but she was unable to tell me who was in her room yesterday about the house. I hope she didn’t sign anything – she doesn’t remember.

 

This all goes back to Zohar because he is the ONLY other person who had her address. Currently, I am drafting a formal request to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Real Estate with a full account of the situation, his associates, his associated companies, and his license number to be investigated and prosecuted in the attempt to defraud my elderly grandmother by bypassing her power of attorney and her heirs regarding the foreclosed home that she owned since circa 1960. I also have my own legal support system involved, so this will be done right. To date, he still has not returned any phone call, text, or e-mail but I am following this matter very closely. I vow to protect my grandmother against underhanded dealings by any means necessary.

 

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Catching Up (PerBlog 2017-06-17)

What a whirl of a week this has been. Summer is in full swing and with it, the heat and the storms that I so love about Florida. Even living a stone’s throw from the beach, I still haven’t had the opportunity to get out much. When I can, I enjoy every second of the scent of the salt water, the wind, and the sounds that make Vitamin-Sea such a vital part of a healthy spirit.

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Photo on Hutchinson Island, Florida, credit: Heather Noel (LifeInPawPrints).

Summer plans have gotten off to a slow start, mainly due to finances and unstable hours at work. It’s the slow season so where I was hoping for overtime, there hasn’t been any and there’s always a chance of being volunteered to go home early, so that make it hard to plan some things, not knowing how much a paycheck will be when it’s all said and done. BUT… I’m working on other financial fixes, they’re just being stalled by a very slow legal process which is driving me mad. I always found it ironic that it costs SO MUCH to fix money problems. Perfect example: Bankruptcy. Hundreds of dollars to file, yet if you’re truly bankrupt, you don’t have hundreds of dollars to file, or you wouldn’t be bankrupt. The legal system is twisted and distorted to work against the people, not for the people, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant altogether.

My daughter had wanted to get a job this summer at Publix but even after applying and following up, she was not not called back. They will hire at 14 but she may have a better chance when she turns 15 in a couple weeks. She’s already worked there unofficially, bagging for her grandmother who worked as a cashier, so one store’s staff already knows her. That’s always a plus. But until something comes through for her on employment, she is enjoying the first weeks of summer with me and my partner, his mother and sister. We keep her busy with the art studio, the gym, DIY projects… there’s always something to do. Plus, she gets to sleep in to her heart’s content 🙂

Projects for me include getting some flowers planted (though I’m a couple months late in doing so!) and building a container garden that won’t fall apart like the last attempt. Aside from the seaside, gardening is good medicine for my often bitter spirit. It takes me out of the world and back into the basics of life. I like sowing, I like producing, and I like the idea of making something useful out of nothing. Growing things does that for me. Trouble is finding a place to grow where all the animals won’t destroy my work. Chickens and raccoons are great at getting onto and into places they shouldn’t be!

Suppose that’s it for now. This heat is making me grouchy. Normally I love this house (basically an open-air wood cabin type historic house – no AC – central or window shakers) but summers are a real bitch. There’s no escaping the heat. Even the shade is brutal.

PerBlog 06-04-2017

Hi kids! Today we take a moment to remember that quiet, alone time can be a GOOD thing! It means not having to wake and work around 4 other schedules, being able to watch TV (specifically a documentary on minimalism) until 2 a.m. because I wasn’t tired yet. It means sleeping in til 9 a.m. and having the cats forgive me the moment I gave them milk with their breakfast. It means being able to listen to Ani DiFranco on iHeartRadio while I take my time going through the morning news.

Coming Up
Our father who art in a penthouse
Sits in his 37th floor suite
And swivels to gaze down
At the city he made me in
He allows me to stand and
Solicit graffiti until
He needs the land I stand on
In my darkened threshold
Am pawing through my pockets
The receipts, the bus schedules
The matchbook phone numbers
The urgent napkin poems
All of which laundering has rendered
Pulpy and strange
Loose change and a key
Ask me
Go ahead, ask me if I care
I got the answer here
I wrote it down somewhere
I just gotta find it
I just gotta find it
Somebody and their spray paint got too close
Somebody came on too heavy
Now look at me made ugly
By the drooling letters
I was better off alone
Ain’t that the way it is
They don’t know the first thing
But you don’t know that
Until they take the first swing
My fingers are red and swollen from the cold
I’m getting bold in my old age
So go ahead, try the door
It doesn’t matter anymore
I know the weak hearted are strong willed
And we are being kept alive
Until we’re killed
He’s up there the ice
Is clinking in his glass
He sends me little pieces of paper
I don’t ask
I just empty my pockets and wait
It’s not fate
It’s just circumstance
I don’t fool myself with romance
I just live
Phone number to phone number
Dusting them against my thighs
In the warmth of my pockets
Which whisper history incessantly
Asking me
Where were you
I lower my eyes
Wishing I could cry more
And care less,
Yes it’s true,
I was trying to love someone again,
I was caught caring,
Bearing weight
But I love this city, this state
This country is too large
And whoever’s in charge up there
Had better take the elevator down
And put more than change in our cup
Or else we
Are coming
Up
If I’m lucky, my own urgent napkin poetry may happen today, only it won’t be urgent, but it will be spilled out on any scrap of paper I can find. Who knows where inspiration will come from today but I’m not feeling it yet. Right now I’m just going through the motions of gut-wrenching period cramps and enjoying the clouds floating past, praying for (more) rain and waiting for the Tylenol to kick in so I can get on with my day. At my own pace.

Down Time

When is the last time I had a vacation? I can’t remember. So 3 months ago, when my job finally made me permanent and assigned some PTO for me (paid time off), I requested a 4-day stretch off work. To my surprise, it was approved so as I write this, I am enjoying my first little non-working vacation in I don’t know how long. Can I tell you how good it feels to NOT have to set the alarm? To be able to go to sleep when I’m tired instead of when I have to? This is much-needed down time for mind and body, especially since the busy season is about to start at work and not only will time off be difficult to obtain, we’ll start seeing mandatory overtime as well. It’s about to get stressful.
So what am I doing with my time? Lots and lots of reading and relaxing for one. Some self-pampering. Today looks to be a day that involves nothing more than a long soak in the pool, followed by basking in the sun with a book, then the jacuzzi. Then dinner with my hunny and curling up to watch some TV, just us.
I wanted to stay local while still being far enough from home for it to feel like a getaway, so we booked a lovely inn that is a little out of town and right down the road from my second-favorite Downtown area and the artisan community interlaced with it. Tomorrow looks like window shopping and browsing at the many antique stores and art galleries. Best way to spend a Monday 🙂

Weekend Art Project

While skimming through Pinterest recently, my daughter and I came across a project that looked fun and inexpensive so we thought we’d give it a try. It utilizes heavy art paper, a lot of crayons, white glue, scrap paper, and painter’s tape. 12715686_10153753304735660_3061785048652222276_n

Start the project by applying a thick layer of glue where you want the crayons positioned, then set the crayons into the glue. It will take several hours for this to dry, so just lay it flat for a while (we let it sit overnight).

Next, cut out a shape you’d like to have centered in the color splash (or several, or even none). It’s important to use painter’s tape because the hot blow dryer will not melt the adhesive (trust me, other types of tape failed). Tape around the edges of the shape, then trim it to shape and place on the canvas under the drip line.

With a blow dryer, melt the crayons and let the wax run down over the entire canvas. You’ll need to hover over a section until you get a good amount running down then aim the blow dryer to spread it out.

The wax will dry in a few minutes so when you’ve covered the canvas, peel up the taped-on shape while it is still wet. If you wait until it dries, it will tend to pop and crack off. Try using different color combinations and shapes and get creative!

Zombie Apocalypse In My Dreams

I had some weird dreams that continued to play out as I woke up throughout the night and kept falling back asleep. Must have been the migraine…

I was somewhere, not sure where, and someone was preparing their house for the end of the world. They had the house set up for 130 people in the basement, and I didn’t believe any of it was going to happen. They had all the provisions though the people would have been crammed wall to wall. This guy seemed like some kind of false prophet, tall and charismatic.

Dream broke to me having to accompany some woman down to a Walgreens several miles away. It was raining and we were on bicycles, she had her two kids with her riding in a basket on the back. I realized I had forgotten my inhaler and wanted to turn back but she wouldn’t let me. I went into a minor panic attack and tried to breathe my way through it. We got to Walgreens and her male friend who appeared out of nowhere directed me to this “doctor” who would give me a new inhaler.

It took me a while to find this “doctor” and it was getting dark out. It ended up being a house, and the “doctor” ended up being some weird hippy kid who just happened to have a stash of generic meds. He acted very cocky and cool like he didn’t have to help me because I was disturbing him (from what I have no idea because he wasn’t doing anything), then finally gave me something that, after reading the label, I realized I could have just gotten over the counter. Then he crawled back into bed and his mom came home.

Since it was getting dark and I didn’t want to walk 3.6 miles (according to my phone’s GPS – at least I remembered to grab my phone!) alone during the impending zombie apocalypse, I sat in his room for a while, then when his mom came home, I rummaged through his stuff, found an inhaler, and headed off back to the safe house. Was dark when I got to the safe house and people and their pets were all filing in under the direction of the home’s owner. There were no other homes around this place, it was just a regular single family home standing along a sidewalk with nothing at all surrounding it. I ended up opting not to go into the safe house and the dream ended there with no end of the world happening.

Leave it to me to forget my inhaler during the zombie apocalypse.

Are You OK?

A while back, I came across a blog entry via Twitter that brought attention to an Australian social campaign called R U OK? It promotes starting conversations to let people know that they are cared about and to help them voice things that are not OK in their lives so that help can be provided before a situation becomes a crisis. It’s a beautifully simple concept really, and one that could realistically save a life.

This morning, I was reminded of this campaign as I was sitting on my front step waking up with a cup of coffee. This is a small community so most people know each other. When a car drove up slowly into my neighbor’s driveway, I noticed it of course but did not think much of it until the door opened and no one got out. The elderly man in the driver’s seat sat there for a few minutes and then put his head down, chin-to-chest, occasionally looking around then putting his head back down for a couple minutes. From this angle, he was acting as I’ve seen people with dementia act when they are confused, not knowing quite where they are or why.

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Alarmed, I got up but he picked his head back up and reached for something in his car. He seemed OK for the moment but I kept watching. After a few minutes of him just sitting there, his head began to sink again, so I went inside to get my phone in case I needed to call anyone. I headed over to his car and quietly asked him, “Are you OK?”

Startled, he jumped and stared at me for a moment before angrily telling me, “I’m napping!” The tone of voice made me take a step back and apologize, telling him I didn’t know if he needed help and I was just checking on him. He nodded then, and turned to put his head back down.

Since this was not anyone who lived there or anyone I had ever seen, I kept watch from my front step for about 10 minutes longer. Finally, he got out of the car and slowly made it to the front door where my neighbors apparently knew him and they helped him in. I apologized for startling him and was thanked with a smile and a wave that communicated to me, “It’s OK.”

Even though everything was OK this time, there may be a time that someone does really need help. The responsibility falls on all of us to be aware of the situations around us and to be proactive, asking even a total stranger… “Are you OK?”

Dark week ahead

Despite the gorgeous sunrise and freshly fall weather gracing the coast, this week seems to be quite dark in the events that are coming up. Back in May, my landlady who I lived with at the time had a very unsavory man living with her. In 6 months, he had not paid rent so she had me – of all people – serve him his eviction notice. Eventually, the police had to come and remove him the hard way. The next day, my brake lines were mysteriously cut. She had a restraining order against him but despite numerous violations against it, he continued to stalk and harass her. Most recently, she found her two outdoor cats had been killed and left in a bag on her front lawn. This is the type of person we are dealing with. On his first violation of the night he was thrown out, she and I were sitting on the front porch and saw him come back onto the property. We called the police and filled out witness reports. Stupid, stupid move on my part. This week, I have to go testify against him in court as a witness even though I have been telling the prosecuting attorney for months that my life is in danger from this man. He is not sane, he is not to be trusted. A text from his ex wife to my landlady early on said it plainly: “You don’t know what he’s capable of.” This single chilling text has stuck in my mind ever since and on many occasions, he has indeed proven what he is capable of. Now even though I no longer live at her address, he can just as easily find out where I live if I go testify against him. What happens next? I’m afraid to find out. Just pray that he does land in jail for a substantial amount of time finally without bail or that if he does manage to go free that he doesn’t find me. Ever.

Perblog-Rainy Sunday

Normally on Sundays, it’s errand day. There’s mass in the morning, followed by religious education until noon, then the weekly grocery/necessities run and then the ATM to pull out my rent money for the week (landlady only takes cash!) Today just caps off the weekend “adventures” though as I recover from late work nights and a stomach bug plus ongoing migraines that seem to not have let up for 2 months straight. That’s why right now I am not doing a damn thing besides taking some time to myself after playing in the warm summer rainstorm that just passed over, enjoying the cool air on my wet hair and recounting what a crazy weekend it’s been. 

I didn’t wake up until 10:30 this morning after writing late (I freelance writing SEO content for websites). Fresh coffee was on and my breakfast wrap (sausage, egg & cheese, my favourite) was waiting in the microwave for me. After getting the sleep out of my head, I walked out to find my landlady under the kitchen sink trying to get the faucet unhooked to replace it. Of course I got recruited to help, so I did the clean work and held the flashlight for her, handing her tools. The faucet the neighbor gave her to replace it though was the wrong type and she spent the next hour struggling to get the old broken one back on. 

When she turned the water on, it was spraying everywhere under the sink. She’d given up trying to get the pieces to fit back together any tighter. That convinced her that she needed to turn the water back off and do it right this time. There is still no water in the kitchen sink because that faucet for some reason has been slowing down for a couple weeks and now just produces nothing. So after breakfast, I washed my coffee mug in the shower (now the only working water in the house) and am settled at my computer just waiting for a new job to post for the web content.

Mind you, during this plumbing fiasco, someone had dropped by unannounced to see the room she’s posted for rent. He was chased off pretty fast by the state of the house, but not before he asked us if we were single. What kind of creep was that? Not one that we want in the house, that’s for sure. 

Today’s craziness follows yesterday’s in a symphony of “I should have stayed in bed.” Yesterday while I was working on a website, fully concentrated in my content research so that I did not hear my landlady leaving to go to the store, all of a sudden I am ripped from my work by the sound of my favourite dog screaming at the top of her lungs. I slammed my computer shut and ran out to see what was going on and found the dog stuck with her foot in the bottom of the outer porch door in an absolute struggle to free it with paint everywhere (I’ll get to that in a minute). I freed the dog, grabbed her and immediately started washing the paint out of her mouth and off her as best as I could while the other dog (also covered in paint) ran to hide. Once the stuck dog was calmed and partially cleaned off, I checked her foot and nothing was broken. She was walking ok, just freaked out. 

Taking a moment to assess the situation, I went back out to the porch to try to figure out what the hell just happened. There had been a gallon of white paint apparently knocked over and kicked around in her struggle and it had spilled and sprayed everywhere. Imagine two dogs and a gallon of paint in a blender. That’s what it looked like when I ran out to her screams. I had no idea how I was going to start cleaning the paint off everything – it was a half inch thick coating the enclosed porch, so I left it and tried to call my landlady, only her phone had been left behind. She got home just at that moment and had a “WTF?!” pause before dragging the hose into the porch and starting to disburse the paint. As she started sweeping the wet, white mess out of the porch, I secured both dogs outside and hosed them off completely, restoring their natural colour. 

With the dogs cleaned and all the paint hosed off the porches, we sat trying to figure out what had happened. The best we can tell is the dogs were sleeping on the inside porch and someone tried to come in the outer door. Ceri, the big dog, would have rushed the door at the first sound and that would have scared the person enough to slam the door on her foot. There was no way, as far and as solidly as her foot was caught, that she could have done that herself. The door is too hard to push open at the bottom when it’s closed and even I could not force it open as far as her foot was caught. It was obvious during her struggle the paint got kicked over, slammed around and emptied. The takeaway: Ceri protected me from an attempted home invasion and got hurt in the process but she kept someone from entering the house. GOOD DOG!!! 

Seriously. This dog is my hero. She gets a sno-cone.

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Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m In Love

In response to: Daily Prompt – It’s Friday, I’m In Love

In actuality, it’s every day that I’m in love!  It isn’t something that’s easy or convenient, but it’s there, and it just won’t leave my heart alone – the feeling that I get thinking of my Hunny Bear, knowing that for the past four years, he has taken every tear, every stress, every hurt and turned them around into smiles, comfort and healing. Even though we are 1,000 miles apart, he holds my heart, touches my soul, brings warmth and meaning to my life.  Distance has not been easy at all, but Second Life and Skype bring us closer.  With these, we can cuddle, dance, run amok, explore, learn and so much else.  We grow closer with every face to face talk, with every piece of writing on which we collaborate, and with every moment of our lives that we share with each other, whether good, bad or mundane.  It’s those mundane moments that mean the most to me. Those are the real intimacies, the ones that leave us emotionally satisfied that we have someone with whom we can have any conversation, share anything without judgment.  He knows things about me most people don’t, and likewise I know things about him that just don’t get shared.  We have that trust that solidifies our relationship.  I’m certain we will be in each other’s arms one day.  In the meantime, I can rest at night with a satisfied heart that not only do I love, but I am loved, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day ❤

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