How many times have you fallen in love? When was your first? What was your last? Do you recall how it felt to walk on air, trying to hide a goofy smile on your face, thinking nobody knew, but everybody did?
Some of us are slow to fall in love. I can do it in a heartbeat. I've had a lot of practice.
My first true love was my dad. I thought the sun rose and set in his eyes. He has been gone for years, and I still think that.
I was 4 when I fell in love with my baby brother. He grabbed my thumb in his tiny fist and held on tight. And I decided, if need be, I would kill to protect him. He let go of my thumb, but never lost his grip on my heart.
In first grade, I fell for a boy named Clint. Our class elected us to run for King and Queen of the Halloween Carnival and I started planning our wedding. He showed up at the carnival in a monkey costume. When we walked out on stage, he twirled his tail like a lasso. The crowd roared with laughter. And I did not love him any more.
I can name every Mr. Right who ever won my heart. Some weren't so right. A few were, well, wrong. I married only two.
My first marriage lasted 30 years and gave me three children who became my best friends and teachers in life. I fell in love with them every day, even when they acted like toads.
When the kids grew up, we lost their dad to cancer. And I found myself alone in a four bedroom house with five sets of dishes and nobody to feed.
It was the first time in my life I had ever been truly alone and it taught me several lessons:
Cooking for one is no fun. It's why God created restaurants.
If you need someone to talk to, be a good listener. In "Cast Away," Tom Hanks' best friend was a volley ball.
There are worse things than being alone. You're in good company if you like yourself.
No two losses are the same, but every loss brings gifts. The best gift for me was this simple truth: People leave, but love remains; you don't need to be in the same room with someone to know you still love each other.
In time, I learned to like being alone. My kids and I were always close, and losing their dad brought us closer. I had family, friends, a job I loved and a faith that kept me whole. I never planned to remarry.
Then, like the song says, I fooled around and fell in love. So I married my former editor. We share five children, their others, and nine grandchildren.
Speaking of grandchildren (as I often do) I fell in love with them at first sight. You would, too, if you saw them.
Why do babies tend to make us fall in love with them? Maybe we're meant to fall in love with everyone, starting with babies and working up to old people, all ages, all races, all religions.
Every morning I fall in love with a cup of coffee, the man who pours it, and the life we are blessed to share together.
Day and night, I fall in love with family and friends trading messages, phone calls and visits.
I fall for people I've never met, for readers who write to tell me about their lives, for people who do or don't agree with me, and for every soul I read about in the news struggling to survive.
I fall in love with the world — with its sunsets and dahlias and hummingbirds and a good peach cobbler. I don't much care for gophers, snakes or tarantula hawk wasps. But I try.
I fall in love as often as I can, knowing it might be my last chance. When my time here is up, I hope God will smile at how I've loved his creation and let me keep watching it from afar.
It would be such a gift to get to see what my children and grandchildren will do with their lives, how they and their peers will right every wrong, solve every problem, that my generation left behind.
I want forever to fall in love. How will you fall in love today?
Sharon Randall is the author of "The World and Then Some." She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or by email at email@example.com.