Next year, Kerry and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary.
Wow. Twenty years. Two decades. Nearly a quarter century. Sounds like a long time, right?
Except that my sister and brother-in-law are four years ahead of us. Then there's my mom and dad, almost 51 years. Amazing.
Anyone married knows that these milestones are more than just impressive; they are downright spectacular.
Enter my very, very dear pals Jean and Jerry Ruggieri of Warren. They happen to be the parents of my sweet, angelic friend (aka honorary sis) Christine. These are two of the most selfless, giving and big-hearted people on the planet. Heck, many of you probably know and love them, as do I.
It has been nothing short of a blessing having this family in my life, and since the Ruggieris will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary next Thursday, I thought I'd share a bit of their incredible story with you.
It all started with a ride home from Geneva-on-the-Lake in his powder blue Buick. The year was 1948, and it seemed Jean and her girlfriends needed a ride home from Lake Erie that day ... and so it began.
This beauty (inside and out!) who loves to laugh and has no idea how incredibly kind, pretty and wonderful she is happened to accept a seat on the "hitch" from this Elvis-looking only son of Italian immigrants. So the story goes, he didn't even really want to give her that ride - because she was too silly! But he did so regardless, since one of her girlfriends in question was actually his cousin - and we Italians never say no to a family member in need of anything, capisce?
Jerry describes the trip as a "long ride back to Warren with her friends giggling all the way." Who could've known that they'd just embarked on a journey that would last a lifetime? It would start not too terribly long after that little road trip.
Now, although Jean had an opportunity to become a flight attendant, she opted to stay closer to her home - and her family. Jerry's path took a bit of a detour as he joined the military and ultimately went off to WWII. Upon his return, he went to work in his father's dry cleaning business and, as luck and fate (and the course of true love) would have it, he reconnected with Jean. Shortly thereafter, they married.
Over time, they raised two daughters. The firstborn is my friend, Chris, and three years later, little angel Cynthia was welcomed into the clan. She was their special daughter who required total and constant care. Mr. and Mrs. R. provided that care to her from the day of her birth until Cynthia tragically left this world for a much better place in June 2009.
You know, many are of the mind that taking care of a disabled child could split up a marriage - but not these two. They stood stronger and never once complained or regretted their total devotion to Cynthia's care. Indeed, Mr. and Mrs. R. completely live and breathe the philosophy that life is good because you make it so - and that's precisely what they provided for both of their daughters: a good life.
Though now both are retired, their schedules rival any full-time worker's and include volunteering with Mercy Meals as needed; quilting at St. William's Church on Tuesdays for her; fishing on Wednesdays for him (weather permitting); and volunteering at the soup kitchen regularly. That's to say nothing of their routine gardening tasks, daily gym workouts, frequent breakfasts with friends, participation in neighborhood meetings and always, always finding time for Mass and family dinners on Sundays.
Whew - I'm exhausted just detailing it all, and these two are nearly twice my age.
There is no question that Mr. and Mrs. R. are quite remarkable. They have maintained lifelong friends yet continue to make new ones wherever they go. These are two people who opt for what's right over what's easiest - and never with any expectation of reciprocity. I'm humbled to tell a glimpse of their story and absolutely consider them members of my own family. They are a joy and an inspiration, to say the least.
I honor these two wonderful people whose strong faith and devotion to God, family and one another has brought them to this incredible landmark: 60 years of marriage as of May 8. A heartfelt happy anniversary to them!
As Dean Martin crooned at the top of the charts back in 1954 when these two were wed: "That's Amore!"
Contact Kimerer at firstname.lastname@example.org with tales of everlasting amore.