Andrea & I met 55 years ago. We went 32 years between our 3rd & 4th dates. She proposed a week later. We married 15 years ago this week.
May 25th, 2008
I was ass-over-teakettle in love with Andrea in high school. I eventually mustered the courage to ask her out when I was 16 and she was 15. I dropped her off after our third date and then, a couple of miles down the road, I rolled the borrowed car twice sideways and once lengthwise. I was luckily ejected on the second roll... not wearing a seat belt actually saved my life. Andrea's mother quite understandably barred her from ever seeing me again.
Young Andrea with braces. Notwithstanding her extended right arm,
this photo pre-dates "selfies" by a good four decades.
Over the next three decades we had our careers and first marriages. We eventually got back in touch when our high school launched an alumni website. And then, in early 2008, we were both suddenly "available" (more or less) at the same time, so I immediately drove 300 miles (each way) with a box of dinner fixings and a bottle of Pinot Noir.
I'm not saying I'm a great cook, but Andrea proposed to me a week later. All was bliss, it seemed, until soon thereafter when I suddenly found a strange new lump on my neck. I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma, so we rushed forward with our wedding plans so I could have hair for the photos. 20 days later we pulled it off– the venue, the invitations, the preacher, the music, and even the reception... which I personally catered.
We stayed in the Berkshires for the duration of my treatments. Then we moved to Andrea's house in Rochester, even though there was absolutely no viable employment available in my field (wine & food) or Andrea's (environmental education & performance.) So we enrolled in truck driving school and then enjoyed a 5-year, 18-wheeled honeymoon as we drove though most every corner of every state in America.
Having paid off all of our debts, we got Andrea off the road so she could pursue a new-found passion– advanced European-style foot care, which she would provide to elderly and/or infirm clients via house calls. She built up a strong business and devoted clientele from the building blocks of her passion and work ethic and her love of caring for people in need. Meanwhile, I stayed out on the road and eventually found a job that pays better and also keeps me closer to home than I could ever have hoped for.
55 years after first setting eyes upon her, Andrea is as beautiful as ever. 48 years after our first date, I still crave her companionship. And 15 years after exchanging vows, our wedding remains the single most positively-impactful event of my life.
Andrea's mother, now 85, seems to have warmed up to me. And to this day Andrea keeps a flower in the empty bottle of that Pinot Noir. Happy Anniversary, my love!
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After that horrible accident seemingly nixed any future relationship with Andrea, I spent the next few months, years, and decades proving that it is possible to have perfectly good relationships even after someone like her is permanently burned into one's psyche. It's an important survival skill.
It may or may not shock my readership to learn that I wrote a book about all this stuff. CHEMO HONEYMOON is available on Amazon and covers our history, my cancer treatments, and even our reception menu in exquisite detail.
If you or anyone you know needs foot care above and beyond a Walmart-grade, beach-friendly toenail painting, please check out Andrea’s Foot Care & Nails.
And finally, 15 years after my devastating diagnosis, I remain cancer-free.