Amy and I stood in the living room of the home of The Rev. Larry Jackman of First Presbyterian Church of Alton, Illinois, 37 years ago today as each of us took a second chance at marriage.
Larry’s wife, their two children and the family dog witnessed the ceremony and as we waited for dinner with Larry and Sandy at a nice restaurant in West St. Louis County, across the Mississippi River from Alton, Amy asked “did I miss something?”
Larry asked: “Like what?”
“I didn’t hear you actually pronounce us ‘man and wife,” ” she said.
“I didn’t it? My mistake,” Larry said, and he asked us to reach across the table and hold his hands while he said the customary “with the power of vested in me, I pronounce you man and wife.'”
The waiter arrived with the first plates of our food as we were doing this and asked; “Is this like getting married by the captain of a ship?”
Dinner followed after a good laugh between waiter and guests. The waiter told the manager about the “marriage completion” and he came over to congratulate us and told us our dinner was on the house.
An interesting start to a marriage between two people wary after failed unions with other spouses. A pool among our friends didn’t give us more than year.
Fooled ’em. The union between a hard-drinking newspaperman and a actress who was the resident heroin on the Goldenrod Showboat, appeared in films and commercials and also directed plays defied the odds and perhaps even our own expectations.
Over the past 37 years, we have lived in interesting places and times, traveled much of the world, witnessed historical tragedies or heartwarming events, survived emotional challenges to our union and nursed ourselves back to health over mishaps and more.
Amy reminds me that I interrupted our first date to head for the scene of a tornado that struck north of Alton. She watched and held my camera bag while I took photos of the carnage. While we lived in the National Capital Region, she worked in Manhattan on projects with Al Pacino and others. I would take the train up from Washington to be with her during those times and met a number of fascinating people.
We had dinner with former Texas Governor John Connally in Albuquerque after I helped set up a fundraising appearance by him for Congressman Manuel Lujan, my boss at the time. After too many bourbon and waters, he told us about his concerns over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy but that it remain among us as long as he was alive.
We honored that request and I published his disbelief of the conclusions of the Warren Commission only after he died.
Together, we met Presidents, celebrities and world leaders. We enjoyed a great dinner with photographer Annie Leibowitz after a private reception of her work in New York City. We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan one year and celebrated New Year’s Even at Piccadilly Circus in London on another.
She rode a camel in Bethlehem, we toured the Old City of Jerusalem and dined with the country’s leaders. We visited the Vatican in Rome and toured historical sites in that historic city.
Amy helped set up the covert “intervention” I needed so desperately 22 years, six months and nine days ago to jolt my stubborn self into realization that I needed to retake control of through Alcoholics Anonymous to stop drinking. I would not be sober without her love and the help and support of friends.
She saved my life and our marriage with that selfless act.
Four years ago, she slept on a cot beside my bed in the intensive care unit of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke as I struggled to recover from a motorcycle accident that doctors said should have killed me. When a surgeon wanted permission to remove my right left below my knee “if needed,” she said “no” and told him to make sure he saved my leg and make it work. He did and I still have that leg to walk on.
I would not be alive today without her intervention 22 years and six months ago or at the hospital four years ago when I struggled to overcome multiple injuries, brain damage and disabilities.
Thirty-seven years today. We start on the road to 38 tomorrow.
Happy anniversary to my wife, my partner and my best friend. You are the love of my life. Thank you.