Gabriele and I had been living together in our Marina condo for about four years and we were happy clams; working, traveling and enjoying our relationship. The subject of marriage didn’t seem necessary at our advanced age.
In 2000, a few things happened that brought the subject of marriage out of the shadows. Sometime in the spring I was talking to Linda Dawson, my then accountant, and in the course of conversation I asked, “How’s Joe,” and she replied, “Joe no more,” and then explained, “he wouldn’t make a commitment.”
When I hung up, Gabriele, who was sitting behind me in our office asked, “What was that all about”? When I told her about Linda and her dismissal of Joe, she said, “Good for her.”
Then Gabriele got sick one day at school and I was goofing off playing golf or something (no cell phones then), so Gabriele’s daughter, Julie, took her to the hospital ER. Later that day, I tried to see her but they wouldn’t let me in. I wasn’t related.
In the fall, I gave her a ring that I thought was quite attractive but not to memoralize a particular occasion. A friend asked if it was an engagement ring.
There seemed to be a confluence of factors regarding marriage in motion.
In the beginning of 2001, we were in a Makenna Surf condo on Maui for eight weeks. Why so long you ask? Gabriele was leaving the full-time faculty at FIDM and I loved staying as long as possible.
Anyway, we had invited Spence and Donny to stay with us for a week. After we took them to the airport, I casually said, “It was nice having our friends here for a week,” and Gabriele replied, “They’re not our friends, they’re your friends—we’re not married.”
I’m usually a little slow on the draw, but I quickly said, “Well, we still have two more weeks here, let’s get married.” After convincing her I was serious, she agreed. I said there would be three conditions:
- We do it here in a small simple way and tell everyone after;
- You have to contact an attorney and have a prenuptial agreement; and
- I can make fun of your idiosyncrasies in perpetuity.
No. 2 was there so both she and her kids would feel secure that her assets were being protected. We already had a co-habitation agreement that worked well to make living together comfortable, but more about that in another blog.
Having been an avid reader of the Maui News, because it only took a maximum of 10 minutes a day, I checked the church listing page and sure enough, there was a Jewish temple right down the road, in Kihei.
I called the Rabbi and explained we wanted a simple ceremony on the beach. He said he couldn’t do that. He personally was Orthodox and he could only marry us if we first came in for counseling and then had a religious ceremony with a hoopa and breaking of the glass, etc.
I told him I was 70 and wasn’t sure I wasn’t too far gone for counseling, so I thanked him and went to the phonebook and found dozens of listings for people who were licensed by the state to perform weddings. After a few calls, we settled on redheaded Patricia Wheeler O’Flaherty. She sent me some wedding ceremony passages, which I cobbled together with a few additions of my own.
We went to the swap-meet-style marketplace in Kihei and bought two matching Hawaiian wedding bands for $175, and we were all set.
So on Tuesday, February 18th, at sunset, on the beach at the then Maui Prince Hotel, we had a semi-Hawaiian ceremony. Patricia’s husband was the obligatory witness, took some pictures.
It was a total delight. I can say some 15 years later, nothing changed. We still live the same way.