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Life in the Golden Years: Reflections of days gone by

Linda Alessi • Updated Apr 15, 2017 at 1:00 PM

I look back, and memories of my childhood warm me and sustain me now in the last decades of my life. I have been more fortunate than most to have been surrounded by a loving and caring family.  

They helped by supporting and loving me during difficult and trying times. They were also there to celebrate the joyous occasions.

I shared the most important aspect of my life with my choice of my partner in marriage, my Joe. In sharing, we began to expose ourselves to each other and developed a firmer bond and greater understanding.

Our beginning was much like many others. I was a teenager when I met this special person, who today, so many years later, still enters my reverie with cherished memories that have sustained me for almost 70 years. I still ache with the loss but vividly remember the joy of having loved and to have been loved so deeply.

There was chemistry between us. I was in my late teens, and he was an “older man” of 20. The consensus of others was we were too young, but no matter we were sure were ready for what the future held for us.

We were young lovers full of hope and dreams. I was still in high school and restricted from dating on school nights. Joe would pass my house late in the evening and throw pebbles at my window. I would sneak to the window, and he would steal a kiss.

Saturday night was our night. We would dress in our best clothes and take a bus to the 69th Street ferry and enjoy a romantic moonlight cruise to Staten Island. We would never get off. Although the fare was a nickel, we had to make sure we had bus fare to get home. Joe also needed an extra 7 cents to get back to his house. Many nights, he walked three miles when he did not have the fare.

We shared days at the beach, our evenings strolling the local parks, stealing kisses as we walked along hand in hand. We talked and planned how our life would be.

The year before we married, Joe signed up for a job as a mechanic on a fishing expedition to harvest scallops in the Atlantic. This was an opportunity to make several hundred dollars, which was a great deal of money to us in the 1950s. We were saving for our wedding, and we took some money to by provisions for this trip.  We were excited and thought it was a great investment. The night before he left, we met to say our goodbyes. I was teary-eyed and clung to him. He would be gone for more than three months. We were reluctant to be separated for a such a long time.

The day came, and he left for the high seas. Twenty-four hours later, the boat was grounded off Long Island. The entire expedition was off. He returned home, tired and smelling of fuel oil and fish. This began the pattern of our sharing and working together for years to come.

All of us in our golden years can remember our beginnings and relate to when love for each other was tested. I believed in him and stood by him in many of his ventures. To say Joe was a good husband is only a word. We promised each other, and we never deviated, to come first with each other. He supported me in my desire to grow to my greatest potential. He never felt threatened when I ventured in areas that were new or challenging. His understanding of my need to communicate and be with people was never an issue. He respected my wish to want broaden my horizon as an individual.

I promised to be at his side at all times. And I was. I respected him for his kindness to others and his compassion for those less fortunate. I loved him for his ability to stand up for what he believed in, even when it was not the popular position to take.  

We shared many circumstances that were difficult and tested our love, but we passed with flying colors. Our marriage was not unique. As a couple we melded our lives, compromised and worked together for the good of the relationship and the family. Humor was one of the ingredients that got us through some really difficult situations. We learned to laugh at ourselves. Our faith in God gave us strength and a balance that kept us grounded and steadfast.

 His life was shortened at the tender age of 46, and it seemed that life would never be the same. Life does go on, and we are lucky to have lived it. The test of a good marriage was we loved each other more after 21 years and our relationship grew in greater dimensions. His love for his four daughters and I served as a guidepost for him in his life.

Joe left a legacy of love in his short life. He was touched and he touched many who still remember him high regard.

Linda Alessi, of Lebanon, is a regular contributing columnist for The Democrat. She writes about life in the golden years.

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