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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

A Mystery of Love

Do any of you remember Christmas tree bubble lights? They were introduced in the 1940’s, were most popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s, then faded away in the 1970’s with the advent of miniature lights. Bubble lights were shaped like candles in a little candle holder. They were filled with colored liquid, and the heat of the light would make bubbles in that liquid, bubbles which rose up, enchantingly, in the glass tubes.

About ten years ago, a memory of bubble lights came back into my life in a very special way. At that point, I was in my late 60’s and my husband whom I’d loved so much had passed away twelve years earlier.

My high school love, Michael, whom I hadn’t seen in about 48 years, had recently come back into my life. Our renewed ‘relationship’ was complicated, messy, and exciting. Since he lived in Germany and I was in the United States, we only communicated via email or Skype.

My heart was awakened as it had been so very strongly so very many years ago.

I’d thought about him often all through those years since high school, but from the beginning, any normal relationship between us would prove impossible. From an early age —years before we’d met as high school sophomores—he’d been dedicated to a future as a world class concert musician. For the first great milestone, at seventeen, he made his soloist debut with the Cleveland Orchestra. I was with him for that momentous occasion. We were in love. But there was no room for it. After too much time, I realized it and went on with my life.

Now, being in touch once more was both exciting and confusing. In my heart of hearts, I knew there was still no room. What would the ending be?

As it turned out, we did see each other one more time. We met in England and were together for a long weekend. It didn’t go well. He was acting strangely, and there was one time I was actually afraid. Later I would find out that—although no one knew it at the time—he was suffering from early stages of Lewey Body dementia.

There were some golden moments in that weekend though. We shared a piece of lemon cheesecake, exclaiming “yum!” over and over in unison. We fed a pair of ducks in the town square with bread leftover from a dinner out. Michael was amused that the female was so much bolder than her companion. We had a quiet Sunday brunch on the Thames-side patio of a local pub watching the swans, and then took a long walk along the river.

But how does all this relate to bubble lights? Well, it’s background. As I said earlier, about ten years ago, their memory came back into my life. That year on Christmas, Michael emailed me about his memory of picking me up all those years ago for the concert in Cleveland. While he was waiting for me to make my appearance, he was looking at the Christmas tree with my father. He especially marvelled at the bubble lights. Being Jewish, he didn’t have much experience with Christmas trees. He’d never seen those kind of lights before and had remembered them for all those years.

The way his memory of those lights, a memory he’d held on to for all those decades, touched me is something I’ll have with me the rest of my life.

Michael passed away in 2019, and the relationship that had never blossomed now never would. Yet that memory of bubble lights which he shared with me after so many years showed me how very important two people can be to each other in an enduring, though very quiet, way. That makes me so happy and is yet another reminder of the power of love.


I publish a weekly e-mail newsletter, An Artful Path, containing short articles about art, animals, general musings, and sometimes writing. I think you'd enjoy it, so why not give it a try? I never share your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time. To sign up, just visit the homepage on my website by clicking the button below and scrolling to the bottom of the page, and while you're there, take a look around!

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corina jansen
corina jansen
Dec 28, 2023

Such a beautiful love story, thank you!


Dec 26, 2023

That was really touching. I am glad you included the reason for the weekend feeling strange. How confusing that must have been, yet you wrote about it with such tenderness. There’s so much I learn from you in every newsletter. Thank you.


Stephanie Hardy
Stephanie Hardy
Dec 26, 2023

Such lovely lifetime memories, thank you for sharing them!

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