​Rekindling first loves later in life

Love can be lost and found 05:00

"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote. But what about love that's been lost . . . and then FOUND again? Our Cover Story is reported now by Tracy Smith:

It seemed that Donna Hanover was unlucky in love. In 2001, her marriage to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani went down in flames.

And that wasn't her first broken heart: In the 1960s her high school boyfriend, Ed Oster, dumped her in their freshman year at Stanford.

But in the summer of 2002, as she was still smarting from her divorce, Oster gave her a call out of the blue.

"Told me he was divorced, was going to be in town for some business. Would I have coffee with him?" said Hanover. "So, we took a long walk in Central Park, and he said to me, "I'm so sorry I made you cry all those years ago.'

"And I was stunned, because, you know, you stop waiting for an apology after three, four months!"

Still, there were butterflies -- and a year later, wedding bells.

Donna Hanover and Ed Oster, with yearbook pictures. CBS News

So, Smith asked Oster, "Will you ever let her go again?"

"Never," he replied. "This is my lost treasure. My lost treasure found, never to be lost again."

It's a great story, but it's not really all that unusual.

According to a study by a Cal State University professor, former sweethearts who meet up later in life, and are single, have a better than 70 percent chance of getting back together for good.

So what is it about lost love that is so powerful?

"First of all, you never forget the person," said Rutgers anthropologist Helen Fisher. "And if the timing is right and they come back, you can trigger that brain circuitry for romantic love almost instantly and be back in love again."

And there's no expiration date.

Actress Carol Channing fell in love with a boy in middle school before she moved away for a life on the stage. Seventy years later, she found Harry Kullijian again, fell immediately back in love, and married him at age 82. He passed away in 2011.

When actor Fred Savage moved to Los Angeles as a kid for his TV series, "The Wonder Years," he left a young neighbor behind. Eleven years later they reconnected, and tied the knot.