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Heartwarming story about reconciliation


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With all cynicism aside...for those of you looking for a heartwarming reconciliation story...this is very sweet. Just thought it would be a very nice read in the "getting back together" section...


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Romance gets a second act: Divorced at 24, back together at 73

Johnny and Lisa were married for two years in their early 20s. Five decades later, their lives together resumed.




Johnny Coates Jr. leans over the piano keys and scats "Second Time Around."

The tune was nominated for an Academy Award after Bing Crosby sang it in the 1960 film "High Time," and Frank Sinatra later made it his own.


Johnny Coates Jr. and Lisa Haines were married in 1961 and then divorced two years later. They didn't see each other for 45 years until they reconnected and realized they belonged together. The photo, bottom, shows the couple on their wedding day in 1961.


But right now, in their Mission Viejo home, the song belongs completely to the man at the piano and the woman taking in every note.

Oh I'm so glad we met

The second time around

Johnny and Elizabeth "Lisa" Haines were 22 when they got married. It was the early 1960s, and they lived in the part of New Jersey where they'd grown up. He was already a celebrated jazz musician and she was teaching grade school.

But love wasn't enough. After two years, they divorced.

They moved on. Coates settled in as the resident jazz pianist for more than 50 years at the Deer Head Inn in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Haines spent four years teaching in the riot-torn city of Trenton, N.J., before moving to Orange County where she worked in the insurance industry.

They both remarried and had children – a son for Haines and two daughters for Coates. Those marriages, including a third for Coates, also failed.

Years passed. They hadn't spoken to each other since splitting up. And then ...

It's Valentine's week, so you can guess where this is heading.

Johnny and Lisa went to school together in New Jersey, but that's not when they first fell in love.

Lisa: I was best friends with his sister, so I knew him all through school. Then I went off to college and he went on the road with Charlie Ventura's band. He'd run up to his room when I'd come over to see his sister. We were silly teenage girls to him.

Johnny: We didn't have a whole lot of contact in high school. After I graduated and went on the road for a couple of years, there was a lot of distraction.

Lisa: I went away to (college), and that next summer our families rented a house together at the New Jersey shore. I had a new boyfriend. Johnny and I took a ride one night. We sat on the beach and kissed and (Johnny) said "What about Tom?" I said "Tom who?" and that started it.

They had a church wedding on June 17, 1961. It turned out they were too young.

Lisa: (looking at Johnny) You were working nights, I was working days. I like to say it was probably immaturity and not having the fortitude to understand the whole encompassing relationship, because (we) had some tough times in there.

Johnny: Counseling wasn't much in those days either. So we didn't even try that route.

Lisa: I was heartbroken when it ended ... Divorce wasn't talked about that much. It was, "Shh, don't tell anybody..."

Johnny: Had we had children, I think it might have made us try harder.

Six years ago, Lisa looked up the website for the Deer Head, where they once lived together while married. She debated sending an email.

Lisa: I didn't think he would want to hear from me. He was so famous. And I didn't know if he was still married; I didn't want to be a buttinski.

Johnny: She saw that I still appeared (at the Deer Head) and she asked if they would say 'Hi' to me (for her) the next time I appeared. Which they did. And it really blew me away. I was really, really touched. I didn't have a computer but I found a way to get back to her real quickly.

Lisa: My girlfriend to this day takes all the credit. She said 'Hit send.' And that was it.

Johnny: The wild thing about the email at the Deer Head, the ownership had just changed two months prior to when she sent that email ... I found out subsequently that many people had sent emails that I never got.

Had she sent that maybe six months prior, I never would have gotten it. .

During the decades they were apart, he thought of her often, but never tried to find her. She thought of him, too, but as a single mom she was more focused on raising her son than she was on romance.

Johnny: I had just resigned myself to the fact we would probably never see each other again. So it was just an unbelievable happening, the contact.

Lisa: Yeah, literally one of those things that was meant to be.

Johnny: I remember writing her letters (after they found each other again). I just poured my heart out.

Lisa: It was beautiful.

Johnny: I remember writing on legal pads, three or four pages. I tried to not miss anything that had happened since we had parted.

Lisa: And then I wrote him the whole details of our honeymoon in Europe, almost day-by-day.

Johnny: That was so touching that it meant so much to her to want to remember that. I love telling this story. It shows that anything is possible, I guess.

They regret what they missed from each other over the years.

Lisa: I would have loved for him to be the father of my son ... That would have been my dream to have him be my son's father and spend all those years doing all the things you do with kids together.

Johnny: I missed having somebody as understanding and as behind me as much as she is.

Lisa: Thank you, honey.

Johnny: She understands my deficiencies pretty well.

Now, both 73, they say love is definitely better the second time around.

Johnny: I think we're really getting it right.

Lisa: You sort it out when you get older. I think you have a better perspective on what you do.

Johnny: It's so much deeper ... There's so much more that we can share with each other than just the few little things we had when we were in our early 20s.

Lisa: You have to have mutual respect for each other. At our age, this is what we are. We're not going to change ... You have to take it as it is.

So Valentine's Day is special, right?

Lisa: We celebrate every day really.

Johnny: Yeah, Valentine's Day is a little special, but it seems like every day is a holiday now.

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