Showing posts with label Wedding Anniversary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wedding Anniversary. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Virus Vexation and Our 50th Wedding Anniversary

COVID-19 has upended everyday life and worse, a tragedy for those who are sick and dying, their families, as well as leaving so many without income or resources.  It is ruthless and random. I could write pages and pages about our country’s lack of preparation for a pandemic, or the delay in taking action because of denial.  But, this is not the entry for that and it is well covered by our finest journalists.  I’m thankful for a free press. And heartfelt thanks to our healthcare professionals and the army of workers who have been marginalized and now stand at the front lines, our truck drivers, grocery workers, postal and delivery people. 

For us, as for so many others, it has meant more (thus far) about putting our life on hold.  It exposes the little things we take for granted, a visit with friends or family, a dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, or deferring the pleasures of theatre and musical performances. Will it ever come back to the normal we once knew?  Perhaps slowly, but in the meantime it has ravaged our way of life.  It is particularly disheartening at our age.  How much more time will we be granted and what will the quality of life be?

At this stage of life, every moment with family and friends and community is particularly precious. Shared experience is far more important than anything else. Face Time, Zoom and Facebook can never replace human contact.

This week was supposed to be a very special occasion for us, flying to NYC to be with our “kids,” Jonathan and his wife Tracie, and Chris and his significant other, Megan.  The four of them had surprised us with tickets for us all to see the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, on our 50th Wedding Anniversary, April 26. The show will also celebrate its own 50th Anniversary on the very same day. What are the chances?

It is perhaps my favorite show of all time.  When Ann and I first saw the show, I was immediately captivated by the premise of Company, particularly as the main character is “Bobby,” my wife’s nickname for me.  No, I didn’t have the same conflicts as my namesake, but as a New York City “boy,” Sondheim’s urbane, sophisticated Company, and its innovative ensemble approach resonates with me. It was my second marriage and “Being Alive” is exactly the way I felt, although there was some apprehension, as expressed in “Sorry-Grateful” (my YouTube rendition of that song made a few years ago can be heard here). 

What a major disappointment we will miss seeing Company with our kids on our special day.  But all these years we’ve had Sondheim for entertainment, consolation, and insight into human nature and with such innovative, beautiful music. Perhaps that is a fair trade. Thank you Stephen Sondheim; you enriched our lives.

And my own life is so infinitely richer by being married to my soul-mate, Ann.  We are simpatico in so many ways, even where we’re totally opposite, her puzzle pieces perfectly fitting mine.  I dedicate my recent YouTube performance of “Being Alive” to her.  Ann, you helped me “come through” and “I’ll always be there.”

Somebody, crowd me with love, / Somebody, force me to care, / Somebody, make me come through, / I'll always be there, / As frightened as you, / To help us survive / Being alive, / Being alive, / Being alive!

And thanks to our sons who endeavored to bring us all together for our 50th Wedding Anniversary.  That’s what life is all about, isn’t it?  We’ve got company! 

Circling back to the opening paragraph, may you and yours stay well, and stay safe, six feet apart!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wedding Anniversary Redux

47 years ago and it seems like yesterday.   I’ve told our wedding story before in this space, but here’s an edited and expanded version:  I spent the night before our wedding in my apartment at 66 West 85th Street and Ann at hers at 33 West 63rd Street (although we were already living together on and off).  Her apartment would become our first home.

Our one-week trip to Puerto Rico a few months before we were married became, unknown to us at the time, our honeymoon in advance.  I was between my first job in publishing where we had met a few years before and returned from our holiday to start a new one in Westport, CT, which I would occupy for the rest of my working life.

That trip was memorable for several reasons besides being our first vacation together.  We got to see the new 747 when we landed.  Little did I know how often I would fly that plane across the Atlantic and Pacific in my future, frequently with Ann.  Our hotel was on the beach and Tony Conigliaro was staying there, the Red Sox outfielder who was hit by a pitch a couple of years before, but made a comeback and, in fact, that season which he was about to begin would be his best.  Also, I finally got to rent and drive a VW Bug, something I had coveted when I was younger but could not afford to buy and maintain in Brooklyn.  Driving through the rain forest was particularly memorable.  But what I most remember is the high anxiety I felt about starting a new job upon our return.  Consequently in the evenings I would read industry journals and technical books about running a business, something that did not make Ann particularly happy.   

Nonetheless, during that trip we decided that marriage sometime in the future would be preferable to just living together, so upon our return, Ann placed a call to The Ethical Culture Society which she regularly attended.  There was one Leader who she knew personally and admired, Jerome Nathanson, the man she wanted to marry us.  Naturally, we were thinking of sometime that summer but he had only one date open in the next seven or eight months – the following Sunday in exactly one week. We looked at one another and said let’s take it. 

Consequently, Ann began hasty wedding arrangements, including ones to fly her mother and Aunt in from California, picking out a dress for herself and mother to wear, hiring a caterer and picking out flowers.  We chose the list of attendees, mostly our immediate families and closest friends, including a few colleagues from work and of course, my young son Chris from my previous marriage.  Ann’s brother and sister-in-law graciously offered their home in Queens for an informal reception.  Everything had to be done on a shoestring and obviously with a sense of urgency.

The ceremony itself was what one would expect from a brilliant and humorous Humanist Minister.  A substantial part of the service captured our enthusiasm for the then victorious New York Knicks, with names such as Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, and Willis Reed sprinkled throughout our wedding vows.  Later that night we returned to my 85th Street apartment.  I had to go to work the next morning, my driving to Westport, while Ann took a one day holiday to spend with her Mother and Aunt Lilly.  So our married life together began.

I posted a brief photographic essay of our years together marking our 42nd anniversary which can be seen here.

Fast forward to now.  Romantic love deepens into a friendship like no other.  So how did we celebrate? 

First Oysters and Clams on the half shell at Spoto’s and then later, off to the Sunday jazz jam at the Double Roads Tavern in Jupiter with our friends, John and Lois.

There we again saw the upcoming jazz prodigy, Ava Faith, only 13 years old. 

It will be interesting to watch how she matures but it is good to know that the Great American Songbook is being passed on to a younger generation.  Much credit in this geographic area goes to Legends Radio and its founder Dick Robinson and to the Jupiter Jazz Society and their founders, the incredibly talented keyboardist Rick Moore and his wife Cherie who helps to organize and publicize the traditional Sunday evening jam.
As we are on the topic of music, a special shout out to David Einhorn, a professional bass player who had been out of the country for years, and is now back and playing in the area and occasionally comes by our house to jam with me on the piano -- above which his sister Nina’s painting hangs.  

I hear him beating timing into my head, something less important when one plays solo as I have done all of my life.   His recordings with the late, great pianist Dick Morgan are a shining light to me.  Thank you, David.

And thanks Ann for putting up with me these oh so many years!

A card from our friends, Art and Sydelle, hand illustrated by Sydelle

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Weekend Thoughts

Can you imagine the effrontery of what Georgia's legislature euphemistically calls the "Safe Carry Protection Act"?  Just ask any parent of a child who was at the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter.

Georgia "Cracker" takes on a new meaning. Crack! Pow! Rat-tat-tat!  To what extreme and at what cost of lives do we take the interpretation of the Second Amendment?  When the Second Amendment became part of the Bill of Rights the reigning weapon was the Musket, accurate perhaps up to the length of a football field, and if you were experienced, perhaps you could get two shots off per minute.  Compare that to today's weapons.  Is that what our Founding Fathers meant, the right of every citizen to carry AK-47s which can fire 600 rounds per minute with a maximum range of 30 football fields?

Georgia takes this to another level. Bring your gun to your favorite bar, have a few drinks, and shoot 'em up!  Then, go to church with your fellow gun-toting religious zealots and pray!  And, bonus time, give a gun to your kid to take to college!

Georgia now joins twenty two other infamous states with some form of "stand your ground" laws as opposed to eighteen states that have laws imposing "a duty to retreat," seemingly a more civilized law that puts the burden on the threatened individual to avoid deadly force where reasonable (like getting the f**k outta there!), only resorting to deadly force where unavoidable, such as being in one's home during an armed home invasion.

I've written about this before, ad nausea. Here's but one of several on the subject that makes the point.  It just seems that in the wake (sadly and certainly no pun intended) of the Newtown, CT tragedy, the NRA has simply put state governments in its powerful lobby cross hairs (pun intended).  Frankly, although I support the second amendment for hunting and target practice, it's dispiriting that we can't have stronger laws to outlaw automatic weapons and institute laws that mandate registering weapons as we must register automobiles (which can be equally lethal).  It's a stain on our legislative resolve (or lack of it to be precise).

On to more amusing reading, actually an extended book review of A Left Hand Turn Around the World: Chasing the Mystery and Meaning of All Things Southpaw by David Wolman.  I am among the 10-12% of the world's lefties, and I wear my anomaly with pride.  When younger, they tried to change me to a righty as my handwriting was abysmal.  (Still is.)  But I rebelled in the 5th grade, and almost was "left" back as punishment.  Back then I learned from a Dick Tracy comic book how easily it is to spot a lefty (we normally, but not necessarily, wear our watches on our right wrist). I'm grateful to be a lefty, which was an advantage in many competitive sports, particularly (for me) tennis, baseball and basketball.  Lefties seem to be more prevalent today in those sports. Cream to the top!

Although God himself is obviously right handed (“The right hand of the Lord is exalted. The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.” Psalms 11), I proudly join my fellow lefties, crazy though some claim us to be. But at least I'm in good company with Albert Einstein and Barack Obama.  It was a fun article to read, certainly more intellectually salubrious than anything relating to the "Safe Carry Protection Act."

On even a more personal note, today is our 44th wedding anniversary.  We were married at the New York Ethical Culture Society, only blocks from Ann's apartment at 33 West 63rd Street and mine at 66 West 85th Street.  Another milestone to be celebrated by a special dinner out tonight.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fred and Michael

This entry is an easy one to write, as most of the content already existed in some form, and it makes more sense for me to merely connect things and add some comments.

To provide an overview, a week ago last Saturday we attended a special affair in Hampton Bays, a celebration of the union of two very old, dear friends, Fred Rappaport and Michael Parkin.  We’ve known them for about 47 years of the 54 they have been together.  As I noted in a previous entry Ann and I met because Fred hired both of us and they attended our own wedding 42 years ago:

My first job out of college in 1964 was at a division of Academic Press, Johnson Reprint Corporation. I was hired by the Vice President at the time, Fred, who was living with his partner, Michael. I remember when he hired me, thinking he's so old, 35. Ha. About six months later he also hired a "sassy dame," and she showed up at a New Year's Eve party that Fred and Michael threw, I think it was Jan. 1966. She was wearing a backless dress right down to the tip of her derrière and believe me, even though I was there with my 1st wife, I took note as she moved to the music. Later she became wife #2 (Ann). So that little intersection of time and space changed my life and hers, thanks to Fred's astute hiring practices.

Well, Fred and Michael have stayed together all that time and, as Fred put it, they "finally tied the knot after 54 years," a civil union performed at New York City hall at the close of 2011! What better way to start the New Year!
But that civil union was not held with all their friends and family present, and that is what Saturday, August 4th was all about, at their home in Hampton Bays.  They had bought property there about fifty years ago, which included a small, rustic cottage.  I actually stayed there 47 years ago for one summer weekend, with my ex-wife and our, then, four month old baby, Chris.  All I can remember was partying most of the night.

Since then, they built a beautiful, modern home, higher on the property, overlooking Peconic Bay, but the cottage still stands and the ceremony took place adjacent to the cottage, so appropriate for the occasion.

It was a special day in every way, the trip there, the memories, participating in the renewal of their vows before all.  Bill O'Brien wrote and conducted a ceremonial service that included laughs and love.  There was one special section that I quote below as it is unique to all the wedding ceremonies that we’ve ever attended. It brought each of us into the service, completing a circle of life, why we were there. There was such special meaning to Ann and me as our lives were so profoundly impacted by that seemingly random act of Fred hiring us both at the time that he did.  Here is what Bill said as Fred and Michael were asked to turn to the assemblage before reiterating their vows:

While there is much that you have achieved, perhaps your greatest accomplishment is assembled behind you. I ask that you now turn and face the congregation. These are your fellow travelers.  Please take a moment to look into their loving faces. Feel the warmth of their love upon you. These are the men, women, and children who have accompanied you on your journey, who have brought you to this day.  This is your harvest. And these men, women, and children are your wheat.

Looking across the audience, there was hardly a dry eye.  Indeed, Fred and Michael, you have touched us all.

Although it was my intention to write up a full description of our day, my best friend ---my wife Ann -- beat me to it in an email to her friend Estella, a woman she hired after being hired by Fred. Estella now lives in Spain and is one of the world’s leading authorities on the art of Flamenco (that is a long story onto itself, to be told here one of these days).  I do not write with Ann’s spontaneous, natural voice, one that is so fitting for this entry, so here is Ann’s email describing the day: 

On Saturday morning, Bob and I got up very early, and left the boat to catch the Port Jeff Ferry out of Bridgeport, CT that takes about an hour and a quarter to cross LI Sound.  We were on our way out to Hampton Bays, another hour and a quarter drive once we drove off the Ferry in our car with the A/C cranked up to max.  It was another scorcher of a day, but we hardly knew just how bad it was going to be.  We were on our way to Fred’s summer house that he built with his partner, Michael, about 20 years ago.  They were officially married this past winter in NYC by a Justice of the Peace at City Hall where it is now legal for same sex couples to wed. This was an afternoon party to celebrate their union, after 54 years together, and Michael's 80th birthday.  Fred is 83, if you can believe that. 

When we arrived, it was a scene out of a movie, International banners and flags crisscrossed their steep drive, and tents were set up with tables, a bar and an area with gorgeous Hors d'Oeuvres and Canapes and passed hot yummy food.  And this was just the Cocktail hour!  At 2:00 PM, we were all invited to walk down the drive to a clearing where chairs and a dais were set up; Fred and Michael were having a real wedding ceremony with all their friends and family present.  It was astonishing, I laughed and cried, the officiator was hilarious, a flutist played, at least four different people sang, some to us and a very pregnant lady just to them holding their hands, more music, guitar and flute, and more kissing.  It was without doubt one of the most wonderful, touching and beautiful wedding ceremonies I have ever attended.  The only one thing I would have changed was the weather.   Everyone and I mean everyone, woman, man, child, were in a pool of sweat.  It was 95 degrees and 100% humidity.  I have never schvitzed so much in my life. At the end, a woman I just happened to meet and found interesting, Arlene, presented them with Indian garlands made out of marigolds which are typically exchanged by newlyweds at the conclusion of Hindu ceremonies. It was the perfect touch as Fred and Michael are world travelers and in fact were in India year or so ago.

Afterwards, we returned to actually eat more food, this time a magnificent alfresco luncheon was set up with all of my favorite foods.  Who could eat?  I was drenched in perspiration, full from all the prior food, slightly high from the 3 or 4 (or maybe more) glasses of iced white wine I kept drinking and having such a good time talking to all the interesting people there.  Some flew in from London, some from Hawaii. I had a fascinating discussion with a gay couple from Seattle (one of whom is a travel guide and has been all over the world, India of course, included.) Naturally I told him that I was going there with a friend from Jerez, Spain in October and he was impressed that I was so well read on India and knew so much about the culture, religion, history and social conditions.  He said it is amazing how ignorant most people are when they travel, knowing nothing about the country they are seeing. I recommended Roberts’ book, “Shantaram” for him to read, extolling it as one of the finest fictional memoirs of India I’ve ever read.

Finally after having something to eat and more schmoozing, we slipped away to our car for the long haul back to Ct, deciding to drive this time over the Throgs Neck Bridge rather than be on the Ferry schedule.  Let me tell you, there is nothing as delicious as a really good air conditioning system in your car!  For the first time that day, we were finally cooling off.  But not even the heat could put a dent in all the good feelings we took home with us, having witnessed such a blessed day of love and affection between dear friends and the people gathered there, all realizing that something very special occurred to each and every one of us.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wedding Anniversary

I'm feeling very nostalgic today, our 42nd wedding anniversary.  But melancholy also intrudes because as time permits (the irony of that phrase weighs on me) I've been going through the thousands and thousands of photographs I scanned, leaving behind the world of silver halide prints for digital and more manageable copies. Although a smidgeon of the way through reviewing the scans, my life is literally passing before my eyes and I have mixed emotions, some opportunities perhaps lost, but others seized.

In retrospect, though, my childhood, education, first marriage, even my career, is dwarfed by my forty two years married to Ann.  Today, relationships, and even more so jobs, seem to be kaleidoscopic, frenetic, relatively short-lived.   I've lived with a good woman for nearly half a century now and had two jobs in my lifetime of working.  But when did pulsating youth become, well, "old age?"  I use this expression somewhat disingenuously, in deference to when I was younger and the thought of turning 70 meant being really old. Nonetheless, I still feel like I did decades ago, at least mentally. 

And how does one fathom 42 plus years of living with one person?  Prosaic as it may be, the words trust, humor, patience, and friendship immediately spring to mind. And, so, to celebrate our anniversary, here are a few of those scanned photographs from over the decades, admittedly an idiosyncratic selection, ones that amuse me for the moment, not necessarily the best photographs (I can hear Ann saying "Why did you use that photograph!!??).  And they are mostly scanned photos, with the drawbacks of that process. 

PS Blogger (Google) has changed its blogging interface.  It's awful, and the ability to handle photographs is even worse than before.  Another learning curve, sigh.