Remember

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My wife of fifty years died as dawn was breaking on December 1. I prepared this remembrance for her Mass of Christian Burial celebrated today.

In 1963 I was studying at Fordham during the day and working nights at the New York Daily News. I vividly remember the day I met Jo Anne in the student lounge. She tried to sell me tickets to the Glee Club concert. I turned her down.

That was probably the last time I said “no” to her.

I went to work that night and told a friend, “I just met the girl I’m going to marry.”

We did marry. Last week Jo Anne and I renewed our vows in honor of our 50th wedding anniversary. Except this time we were not in a church . . . but in a hospital room.

The other day someone asked me about Jo Anne’s career. I didn’t know how to answer. She did so much: kindergarten teacher . . . owner of a dance studio . . . choreographer of musicals ... producer of corporate events . . . a model . . . a painter . . . a narrator . . . a video editor.

As an actor she portrayed spirited characters like the foul-mouthed Gwen in David Mamet’s “The Fifth of July” . . . the hung-over hooker in Neil Simon’s “California Suite” . . . Bob Cratchit’s steadfast wife in “A Christmas Carol” . . .  and, of course, she created the title role in the premiere of “Lady Kay.”

She was the golden thread in the fabric of my life. The golden girl whose life gave meaning and direction to mine.

She showed great love, to me and to so many others. That was her great gift to us.

When you’ve seen great love, you’ve seen the face of God . . . because God is love.

Maybe this why she asked to have as her epithet:

“All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.”

What I will always remember is her strength and encouragement when she whispered what would be some of her last words:

“Life goes by in a flash; I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

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Showing 17 reactions

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  • commented 2015-12-12 10:31:59 -0500
    Peter, I am sad to hear about Jo Anne’s passing. I have fond memories of the two of you at lunch at Fior d’Italia in San Francisco and will always remember her good cheer and glowing smile. Susan and I send much love your way. Hope our paths cross again.
    Bill
  • commented 2015-12-11 13:02:24 -0500
    I have no words, only share in your sorrow. Jo Anne was an amazing woman and meeting the two of you in Turks and Caicos is a wonderful memory. Thanks for sharing in my impromptu birthday pizza celebration. Finished your Fat Guy book last month and have been thinking of you both a lot. Only fond thoughts of you both…
  • commented 2015-12-08 09:24:05 -0500
    Peter,
    I was saddened to hear about the passing of your Jo Anne, a loving wife of fifty years, and I was affected by your deeply moving and beautiful tribute to her amazing life filled with so much family love and personal creative achievements. My heartfelt and sincere condolences to you and your family.
    Russ Gaudio
    St. Basil Prep ‘60
  • commented 2015-12-06 19:40:39 -0500
    I’m terribly sorry to hear the news. But thank you for this beautiful remembrance Peter. My condolences.
    Roger
  • commented 2015-12-06 18:25:39 -0500
    I am so lucky to have shared the snorkeling class in Turks and Caicos with you and Joanne. She will be missed by every person who was fortunate enough to meet her. Your remembrance is sweet and touching. Love to you, Peter, and take good care of yourself.
    Gwen
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  • commented 2015-12-05 14:04:59 -0500
    I’m so grateful to have shared some wonderful experiences with beautiful Jo Anne, and it breaks my heart to get this news of her passing. I will forever cherish my memories of her. Peter, please take good care of yourself during this difficult time, and always.
  • commented 2015-12-05 13:21:59 -0500
    Absolutely beautiful Peter! ❤️😘
  • followed this page 2015-12-05 12:22:50 -0500
  • commented 2015-12-05 11:19:48 -0500
    Oh Peter, I’m so saddened to hear this news. What a beautifully moving remembrance of your Lovely Jo Anne. She was one special lady, and the two of you the perfect complement to one another. I will remember her with great fondness.
  • commented 2015-12-05 10:27:18 -0500
    Peter, what a glorious remembrance.
    How amazing that you had each other for 50 years.
    Deep condolences, Stacey
  • commented 2015-12-05 10:20:59 -0500
    I’m so very, very sorry.
  • commented 2015-12-05 09:41:23 -0500
    My snorkeler! My snorkeling duo! You will always be my snorkeling duo. And she will always be my brightest snorkeler. Love to you both.
    Melon
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