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.”