The night that we met. A photo taken with my camera, Boston Harbor, June 28, 1991. The Archdiocese of Boston Young Adult Cruise. Note the body language. Jeff is moving in, getting a little cozy… Anne, well, she’s still a little skittish…
Anne and I were married on Nantucket Island on October 3rd, 1992. She had just turned 30 the day before (“Well, now she’s 30. Time to get married!”).
We’d met a little more than a year before on a “Young Adult Cruise” on Boston Harbor sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston. In those days, pre-scandal, the Young Adult Ministry was fairly well booming.
Neither one of us had really wanted to go. We were in neighboring parishes at the time. She told her friends that it was the “Ship of Fools”, “Desperate Catholics afloat.” She was dragged along anyway.
By coincidence I was down by the waterfront, meeting for a drink with some consultant colleagues from work at a seafood restaurant. It was unbelievably hot that day, close to 100 degrees and very humid. I didn’t feel like hanging around for dinner, so I excused myself and meandered across Commercial Street and headed for the pier. I figured that out on the harbor, it was likely to be a much cooler spot than in the city itself. I picked up my ticket, and on ye ship O' fools I went.
The boat had a bar, and a decent DJ. All truth be told (and Anne knows), I was trying to chat up a friend of Anne’s, a tall, leggy brunette named Megan, but I really wasn’t getting anywhere. Anne and I happened to start a conversation right up at the bow of the ship, and after a while I trapped her there, enchanted. We spoke for hours. As we talked up there, an Aer Lingus flight from the airport roared over our heads, jetting to Ireland. I was supposed to be on that flight to attend a friend’s wedding in Cork, and to finish up some unfinished matters with someone else, but I’d had to cancel out (that’s another long complicated story). What a twist of fate.
At the time, both of our mothers were suffering from long struggles with illness, mine with cancer, and hers with diabetes. In a short amount of time, we found out that we had a lot in common, and that for both of us, faith, family, and commitment meant everything. Within eight months, both of our mothers were gone. When someone sticks with you through all of the vicissitudes involved in the loss of a parent, a strong, profound bond is built that can rarely be broken. You find out a lot about a person. Both of us appreciated the value of finding someone who would stick, no matter what the cost. In a lot of ways, I grew up that night in June in terms of knowing what I should be looking for, and just in the nick of time.
Anyhow, at the end of that evening, I asked Anne out, and this is how it went:
Jeff: I really had a nice time talking to you tonight. May I take you out to dinner sometime?
Anne: OK, sure.
Jeff: Can I have your number?
Anne: (Pause) I’m in the book.
Jeff: (Pause) Well, can you tell me your last name, so I don’t have to start with the letter A?
A lot of our friends find that kind of conversation between us to be typical, expected, and unsurprising. :-)