Happy … meeting you?

Thirty-two years ago today I met my honey while answering the Spanish lines at the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon at the Omni Hotel in Miami. I went with my cousins and the rest of the teenagers in our youth group, ComuniTeen, and he was there with his college Circle K group. I think he was the sponsor or chaperone or something.

Let that sink in a little. He was teaching computer science at the local community college. I was there with a youth group.

This is me, a little older — I might have been 18 in this picture…which, of course, meant we could actually go out together without a host of people giving him the stinkeye…

DING DING DING! Jailbait much? I didn’t exactly lie to him about my age, it just…never came up.

To be fair, he didn’t exactly look like he was old enough to drive, let alone look 21. (He had just turned 21 — he’s older in this picture. He was a hottie, no?)

So our ages never came up. We were busy answering phones and bonding over our tube socks. Yes, it was 1978. We were both wearing tube socks. With the same colored red and gold stripes. It was kismet — a sign! I’ve never been able to find that color combination. If I did, I would so totally buy it. Anyway, here’s what brought us together as soul mates, although the stripes aren’t quite right:

I never would have imagined that socks could be a sign of our destiny, but there you have it. God, on the other hand, does seem to have some ideas for us, and I must share with you that there’s a world of meaning in not just how we met, but the circumstances that revolve around it.

I’ve always been a fan of Jerry Lewis. I loved his physical comedy when I was a child, but as soon as I was old enough to understand what was the underlying theme in his movies, I loved him even more.  I don’t agree with the French on many issues, but I do agree with their assessment of his talent as a storyteller and filmmaker.  But I’m not going to talk about Jerry Lewis, explorer of the human condition. I’m going to talk about his charity, the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

That’s what John and I were doing when we met. We became friends because we had the same interests, which we discovered over the course of 24 hours spent sitting beside each other answering phones and chatting during the lulls in the wee hours. We were there because we liked Jerry Lewis, and were then driven to support his charity of choice. Needless to say, MDA became our pet charity. I don’t know how much money we’ve given to that organization over the years, and I suppose that is how it should be, but even in the lean years, we managed to cough up a little something to send. In thanksgiving, perhaps, for the organization bringing us together.

Or maybe, it was something else. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that last year John was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS –Lou Gehrig’s disease). Few people know the story of our meeting, and fewer still know of the direct connection between ALS and MDA. I’ve often thought that I would love to have a cup of coffee with God and just chat about all the things in my life that I have questions about. You know, all the “why’s” we subject ourselves to …. It’s a crazy idea, this coffee date, and probably useless. I don’t think I’d squander such an opportunity to question God’s motives any more. I’d just say thank you. If a disease was going to take us away from each other, there’s a bit of comfort in having  it be something that we’ve spent the last 32 years fighting to eradicate. I suppose I appreciate the subtle irony of it. God certainly does have finesse.

This weekend we’ll also celebrate 25 years of marriage. It was accidental that we got married at around the anniversary of our having met, but it does keep a sweet romantic connection, doesn’t it? I’ll entertain you with our wedding pictures on that date :-)

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8 thoughts on “Happy … meeting you?

  1. Adriana says:

    My Dear Bego.
    You know I love you so much and you are a sister to me.
    I read your post right now for your dad sent me the email.
    As mom and I read it together I had to stop reading for I choked up and began crying. I am crying now, as well. I love you both so very much and this beautiful story really does have its irony. I do know you and John met at the Jerry Lewis Telethon, I remember. I did not put two and two together though until now. God really does test our strengths and endurance, huh? God works in mysterious ways. John is a great man and yes he was and still is very handsome and you sweetheart are a beautiful woman in every way. John and you are very lucky to have each other and you were destined to cross each others paths. And like mom just said right now all of you are such a wonderful family and such beautiful people, and she meant all of you, including your mom and dad. I must say I am very lucky to have you’ll in my life. May you have a wonderful 25th year Anniversary. I love you both.
    Yuyata

  2. I’m just sighing over this post, Maria — over your love story, your husband’s illness, your 25th anniversary [just hit that milestone myself]. I love both your humor and your ability to share something so powerful and poignant. God bless you both and fill you with His peace. xo

  3. As a couple who has battled through disease, distance, and deteriorations in the course of our 27+ years together, may we both wish you and John a very happy anniversary!

    Song of Songs 3:4: when I found him whom my heart loves.
    I took hold of him and would not let him go.

  4. Ari says:

    Aww…. what can I say? I love you both; you were (and still are) beautiful, and he wasn’t bad looking, right? Hehehe… The best to both of you, my dear friend!

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