My Wife, My Friend, My Love on our Anniversary

Forty-five years ago, almost to the hour, I was in the courtyard at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Paterson, NJ, contemplating the biggest decision I had ever faced in my young life. It was there I experienced a real moment with God. I mean, a burning bush moment. On my wedding day.

It wasn’t second thoughts or cold feet. I was a bundle of nerves waiting and waiting in the cavernous cathedral on what had to be one of the hottest days of the summer. So, unbeknownst to my best man or groomsmen, I went out the back door into a little courtyard for some air. That’s when I saw the stray dog and we really had a conversation. That was posted Oct. 6 under “A Moment with God” if you want to get the full story.

Meanwhile, my bride to be was exiting the limousine to the news I was “lost.” With the cue my best man “found” me, Karen started her walk down the aisle to The Wedding March. From my perch at the altar, my eyes fixed on a small white figure a million miles away at the narthex. And as she walked closer, my eyes bulged at this vision of beauty. Karen always said there were kids fussing in the pews and her Dad kept pushing her to the side off the satin runner, but all I saw was this incredibly beautiful woman gliding down the aisle toward me … me! As I took her hand, I whispered in her ear how incredibly beautiful she was and how incredibly proud I was that she was going to be my wife.

We re-lived that moment for 40 years … and I’ve re-lived it in my mind for the past five.

cartoon 2We were so young and naive back then. We thought we would live a fairytale life. We were going to the chapel to get married and life would be peaches and cream. We would never have to say good night and leave again.

It didn’t take us long to realize fairytales are … well, fairytales. Marriage was hard work and love was not a three letter word {S-E-X}. It meant putting our wants and needs aside to protect, honor and respect our mate. It meant sharing. It meant helping each other. It meant supporting each other.

It’s easy as the years roll by to start cutting corners, getting self absorbed in work or children to where your partner gets shoved to the background. We start taking each other for granted. That’s when it gets hard … and that’s when you have to marshal every ounce of energy to get back to the euphoria of day one.

It’s a commitment not meant for the faint-hearted. It’s a change in the way we think about ourselves and others. And it is hard, hard, every day work.

Karen and I were fortunate. We generally walked on the same path in step {Notice I didn’t say dance … that is just not a pretty picture}. But we worked at it … every day. We weren’t always successful — especially on the little things — but we were always working at it.

Gloria Gaither wrote a poem as a prelude to the song We Have This Moment titled When Did I Start to Love You? Karen confided it was on our wedding day. The combination of the heat, the excitement and the length of the service caused her to get a little woozy during Mass as she presented a bouquet to the Blessed Mother. I noticed and got up from my kneeler to tend to her as she sort of swayed back and forth. She told me at that moment, as I came to her and was holding her hand, she knew I was going to be there for her … always.

For me, I started to love her when I first was separated from her … and that love strengthened every time we were separated, be it for conferences, training, new jobs hundreds of mile away and even death. I quickly realized my life was not complete without her. Even today, five years after she died, I still need a morning coffee fix in her presence to get me going.

We didn’t write our own vows back in the dark ages. But, I think if I had to, this is sort of what I would have said.

I, Joe, take thee, Karen, to be my lawfully wedded wife. I’m not going to promise to be perfect, but I will promise to always love you through the good times and the bad times. With God’s help, the good times will be plenty and the bad times short and scarce. I promise to always treat you with respect and never to take you for granted. I value your opinions and your thoughtfulness and your passion and your listening spirit. I promise to stand with you through anything that comes our way. I pray our life together is filled with health and wealth, but if it isn’t, know I will still be there. I ask God to be the foundation of our marriage. With his help and acting together, nothing can ever defeat us. God brought us together. May He sustain us to a long, happy life together. I love you … yesterday … today … and all our tomorrows.

I may not have always lived up to those ideals, but I certainly tried.

Our first dance was to True Love. As we danced, we both welled up and promised each other our guardian angel would have a boring assignment {we still thought our live would be a fairytale}. I whispered in her ear what we had was “truly true love” and right on cue she whispered back softly “love forever true.” The song still brings a tear to my eyes.

danceWe may have thought our guardian angel — we referred to him as Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life — was going to be like the Maytag repairman, but as I look back, poor Clarence was certainly kept busy. We always managed to get in a step deeper than we should have and it was good old Clarence who brought us back to solid ground.

And so, as we hit what would have been 45 years, I discovered an old anniversary card that still says it all …

When things quiet down
at the end of the day,
And you’re close by my side
where I want you to be,
When we share all our secrets
and dream all our dreams —
These moments with you
are so precious to me

For nothing could bring
such contentment and joy,
Or be a more wonderful
part of my life,
Than those day-to-day times
spent together with you
My best friend, my lover,
my beautiful wife.

Happy Anniversary
I Love You
{underlines added}

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The fellow who says he’s too old to learn new things probably always was.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in family, love, marriage, Memories, prayer, relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to My Wife, My Friend, My Love on our Anniversary

  1. Deanna says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful example of true love! Your love for mom is still so real and evident. Love you!!


  2. Colline says:

    I love reading this. Thank you.


  3. Brenda McGuane says:

    Happy Anniversary Joe! What an inspiration you are to so many! 🙂


  4. says:

    Joe, this was just so beautiful a tribute and remembrance of your beloved Karen. This year happens to be Anne’s and my 50th wedding anniversary. Like yours, our wedding occurred on hot summer day, in Geneva, NY. My brother, now a state senator was the altar server. Father Kane, my boyhood parish priest who had been transferred to another parish 40 miles distant, officiated at the wedding Mass. Our life together has been wonderful, three great children, one of whom we tragically lost to a terrible disease 19 years ago. But through it all we have become closer, more in love, if that is possible. And like your old anniversary card, Anne and I still love to sit together at the end of each day, sharing that day’s events along with a glass of wine. By this e-mail, I am sharing your wonderful words with some of our closest friends. Sincerely, Joe Nozzolio


    • Thank you and congratulations to you and Anne. The key, I think, as you said, was to become closer, more in love through the years. They way to do that is to commit the most valuable commodity to each other — time.


  5. Absolutely gorgeous!


  6. Ned's Blog says:

    What an beautiful gift true love is. I recently described the love I have for my wife this way to a friend: In order for anything to be heard, the sound must bounce back to you from something; without her, I would hear nothing. Being with her makes everything I experience deeper and more meaningful that it could ever be without her.

    What you still share with your wife in your heart is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.


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