ST. PETERSBURG — She was named Muriel Feeney when she met him.
She was 21 then, working the women's beauty counter at Steiger's department store in Springfield, Mass. A young man named Eric Buzza worked across from her in men's furnishings. He stared at her. She was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, but he didn't know her.
One day, some commotion in the store caused employees to stampede to one end. He yelled across to her — "What's going on?"
It was loud, so she wrote him a note.
This is crazy. Here I am writing a note like in high school, and I don't even know your name.
He returned the note.
I don't know your name either, so I think I'll call you "Ditty."
That was 66 years ago. Much changed for them over time, but certain things remained the same. Thursday, this obituary ran in the newspaper.
BUZZA, Muriel B. (Feeney) "Ditty", 87, died Friday, Oct. 24, 2008.
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Mr. Buzza and his children recalled Ditty Buzza on Friday.
She grew up during the Depression on a diet of white bread and molasses. For the rest of her life, she never wasted food.
She rode five hours sitting up on a train to marry Mr. Buzza, who was stationed with the military in California. She waited while he aimed bombs from B-29s. When he got back, they had two children.
She made the best brownies. Like June Cleaver, she always had Sandy and Eric Jr.'s afterschool snack on the table — Ritz crackers with peanut butter and jelly.
She couldn't bring herself to let things die. When fishing, she'd flip the hook back over the side and let the little guy swim away.
She was a social butterfly, known for her snappy jokes that could be a little off color.
She didn't like boredom. When her kids grew up, she worked at an airport arranging meetings between the press and politicians who flew in for visits. Later, she became a real estate agent.
She was a talented artist and painted portraits of everyone in her family. Living in St. Petersburg, she joined the Miniature Art Society of Florida. She created tiny images with a single hair brush.
She loved shouting Jeopardy! answers and reading medical articles. She self-diagnosed her chronic pain as fibromyalgia. Later, as she experienced heart problems, she cracked jokes as nurses wheeled her into surgery.
She and her husband never lost the spark they felt in the department store. Once, an elderly Ditty Buzza walked by her husband in their apartment. He pinched her rear-end.
"I love you, baby."
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8857.