Friday, November 7, 2008

Ready To Get Married...How We Met

No, I am not hoping to get married again! I was just getting your attention with the name of this post! I guess I am taking on one of the traits I learned from Vinnie the joker!

I was having dinner at a friend's house on Vinnie's birthday, Oct 30, just two days before Michael died. Her daughters ate with us and asked me how I met Vinnie. I love telling this story. Even though this blog is meant to tell of my life in the season I was becoming a widow and what God will unfold for my life now that I am one, I also believe it is of interest to others to know how we met. The picture to the left is from our wedding day, June 7, 1983.

Vinnie called me a flower girl because I wore what he considered to be weird clothes. I wore cotton wrap around skirts, eyelet cotton blouses, and sandals. OK. I know what you are thinking...flower girl, right? Well, perhaps a flower girl personality still lingered from the hippie teen age years, but come on, now, we were entering disco days...I was maturing!

Actually, when I turned 18, I left upstate New York to visit an experimental alternative school in Southern Ontario. I ended up living there for two years and discovered I was a pretty good cook. I cooked for the 220 or so students and staff there and taught many troubled young people how to cook. When my visa could no longer be renewed, I was bound for New York again, and became an assistant manager in a summer resort where I worked for 4 years. The last year or two there, I managed the entire kitchen staff, ordering, dishwashers, service staff, and the bakers. I loved it. But as I started getting close to 24, I had a strong urge to have children and start a family. The young man I'd dated for 4 or 5 years was never going to get around to marrying any time soon, so one fall, I decided to see what city life might hold for me.

I moved to Massapequa, Long Island, New York, and rented a house with some friends of mine on a street called, Pirate's Cove. Who wouldn't have wanted to live there?! It was on the bay and really gorgeous. I worked a few months for a friend who owned a successful nut company, but after the holidays, I hit the streets to see if I could find a job in an office. I was afraid that if I pursued a career as a cook, I'd never keep hours that would allow me to be a good mother, so I thought I'd explore my talents in administration.

I went to one particular company, a mortgage serving company, for an interview one day. They were hiring for a clerical assistant. It didn't pay much but I was hoping for fast opportunities that might open up if I could get my foot in the door of the right place. Well, I had no idea what new opportunities would await me a year down the road, so I went for the interview. I was interviewed by an older lady and a handsomely dressed man with a funny accent. His name was Vinnie. I actually thought he was a bit weird but who cares...I only had to work for him eight hours a day, right? Besides, Annette was my real boss. But Vinnie was nice to work for and we even became friends over time. I discovered that his wife had recently left him for a good friend of his who was also married to a relative of his. What a family mess. I felt sad for him. He had two kids and was really torn up about the whole thing. I can't blame him!

I was still pretty involved in the process of getting my ex-boyfriend off my trail. He was driving me a bit nuts - of course, he still didn't want to get married and I was tired of waiting! When it was quiet in the office, we'd talk about our love life dramas and give each other a boost of encouragement. (Imagine that?! We didn't know it then, but we were destined to do that for many years!) I also didn't own a car in those days. Pubic transportation on Long Island transportation was excellent. L.I. was a scary place to drive anyway. But sometimes if it was cold or late when I left work, Vinnie or one of the other co-workers would drive me to the train station. Everyone lived near one!

One week there was a special project going on at work. Everyone was offered the opportunity to work 20 extra hours that week - 4 hours after regular hours each day that week. I needed the extra cash so I asked for someone to commit to give me a ride to the train station every night. Vinnie offered. When we were at the end of the project that week, Friday rolled around, and Vinnie and I got in his car, headed for the LIRR. As we pulled out of the parking lot, he asked me what I was going to do when I got home. I think I told him I would probably eat a sandwich and watch an old movie. He asked me if I liked French food. Did someone tell him that? French food was my all time favorite. I lived in Canada, remember? Some of the best cooks I worked with there were from Quebec. Apparently Vinnie loved French food too and didn't want to eat alone. He was treating to dinner, so why not?

Somewhere in the midst of fresh made Caesar salad and liver pate' I began to realize that Vinnie I had been growing into a bit more than just a friendship. I hadn't noticed, after all, wasn't this the weird dude that interviewed me? When I had gotten hired, I was relieved that at least I'd get to work with Annette! Now I was not a Christian then, but I heard a little voice just the same, and it told me that Vinnie was the man I was meant to marry! (The picture to the right is of Vinnie and me shortly after we were engaged. We loved the smurfs so I created smurf costumes. At this costume party, a monk performed a mock wedding to prepare us for the 'big day' we were planning!)

It took Vinnie a little longer to see it but we got engaged about 9 months after we'd met, and married about 9 months after that. About nine months after that we had Amy!

When Amy was 13 months old, Vinnie was offered a job working for his boss's son in Florida. We walked the beach every day. It was one of the most incredible years of my life. But 1 1/2 years after that we moved back to NY when the new boss lost his business and Vinnie was out of work. Shelly was born just before we moved. Five years after we were married, we bought our first house - a handy man special. Vinnie really hadn't done a lot of handy man work but he was confident that he could figure it out. He was so adventurous and never seemed to fear anything!
Here's a picture of him working on on our first house.

We lived there for five years. That had been the longest I'd lived anywhere since I left home! Vinnie had made it a beautiful home but as the girls were starting to go to school, we started wondering if we really wanted to stay on Long Island. Vinnie worked really far away. One day when it snowed, it took him six hours to get home from work. My childhood desire to move south when I grew up was beginning to rekindle and Vinnie loved the idea of living in a more wholesome area. Five years later, we moved to NC and stayed here until Vinnie went to be with the Lord in our real Home. I consider NC to be the home I will live in until I join Vinnie in Heaven.
Here's are some pictures of Vinnie with the girls at our home in NY.

Now, the last picture on this post is important. It's the evidence of how one man who was always dressed in a three piece suit at worked and creased jeans on the weekends, (yes, creased jeans!) went to becoming not only a handyman in dirty sweats and T-shirts, but became a camping, bear chested poolside laid back southern boy (well, he was from Southern Italy, right?!) I always thought it was so cool!

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