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Dear Ann Landers: Many years ago, my mother's widowed aunt took in boarders in her large home in Washington, D.C. One was a young sailor from Patuxent River Naval Air Station. One day, he heard my mother talking to her aunt about how she had been invited to a Halloween party and needed a costume. The sailor said he had a shipmate who was about her size, and that one of his uniforms might fit her.

The uniform was delivered, and my mother attended the Halloween party. Unfortunately, she failed to return the costume for three months. Her aunt adamantly insisted that a formal apology be delivered in person. The shipmate was summoned, and my mother apologized for her negligence. He was impressed with her humility, and asked her out, knowing she would feel obligated to say yes. On that first date, they both knew they were meant for each other. Four months later, they were married.

Their marriage lasted 59 years, until my father passed away. They never tired of telling how they met, and we never tired of listening to them tell it.

-- Charles in Petaluma, Calif.

Dear Charles: I guess there's something to be said for taking your own sweet time about returning what you borrow. Your letter proves it.

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