My first husband and I were supposed to meet on a blind date. But that date never happened – I wasn’t allowed to go because my parents weren’t comfortable with me going to the World’s Fair in the spring of 1964 without an adult chaperone. My friend, Suzie who lived next door, went along with her boyfriend and Pete. After their day out, they all returned to Suzie’s house and that is when I and my parents met Pete.
Pete and I dated all through high school. He lived in Queens, New York and I lived on Long Island; we spoke every night on the phone and saw each other on weekends. We spent the entire weekend together, he arrived in Merrick by the Long Island Railroad on Saturday morning and would return back to Forest Hills on Sunday evening. There were times when I went to Forest Hills and stayed at his family’s home on Saturday evenings. I need to mention here, that both his parents and mine were always home during these weekend visits.
Together, Pete and I went to all the attractions in New York City – the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Greenwich Village, and on and on. When he came to the Island, we mostly went to Jones Beach, Salisbury Park, Ice Skating, Roller Skating (yes, there were roller rinks all over Long Island back in the day). After Pete got his driver’s license, we took longer trips on the weekends, like to Bear Mountain, New York and West Point.
I remember one time taking the Amtrak train to Washington DC. This trip was several years after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We were walking down a street, I was talking to Pete non-stop as usual, and all of a sudden I bumped right into a gentleman who was rushing from a building. Immediately, several men in suits rushed up to me, grabbed me by the shoulders and asked me questions. I had no idea what that was about until I looked at the gentleman I had walked into – it was Bobby Kennedy. To this day, that chance encounter remains ingrained in my mind.
On September 22, 1968, Pete and I got married. That day remains one of the happiest days of my life, seconded only by the birth of our children, Mike and Paul.
We lived the life of a young couple struggling to raise two sons with only one income – back then, the wife was the home keeper and mother, the thought of a career was not even conceivable. In order to better our position in life, Pete changed jobs every 2 or 3 years. Unfortunately for the boys, Pete and me, those job changes had us moving back and forth between New York and New Jersey.
Neither one of us wanted to live in New Jersey. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s many companies were moving out of New York into New Jersey. It seemed that whenever Pete landed a new job in New York, a short time on and the company would move to New Jersey. This happened several times to us. We always moved to New Jersey, but longed to be back in New York.
Sometime during the early 1980’s Pete and I were arguing a lot, one thing lead to another and we soon found ourselves in the midst of a divorce. Our divorce was final in early 1983. We both moved on, both he and I remarried. Neither one of us had a kind word for the other after the divorce. In fact, we never spoke.
On September 4, 1994 Pete passed away from complications associated with the asthma he developed after we were divorced. He was not yet 47 years old. To this day, I regret never being able to say “I’m sorry” to him. Pete was and will remain my true love and if there is such a thing as a soul mate, Pete was that for me.
May you rest in peace, Pete – I miss you and I have always loved you!
Beautiful. I wish myself, Kayla and Nate had the chance to meet him. I’ve only ever heard good stories of him. Happy Birthday to the father in law I will have to wait to meet.
Yes, he was a good man and he would have loved his grandchildren so much. Such a shame, see we never know, that’s why it is important to let people know how you feel. I love you guys!
Arlene — that was so beautiful to read! I think marrying too young as so many of us did, isnt the best thing, we haven’t grown enough to know who we are, no less become parents and consider the thoughts and feelings of our spouse. I never realized till recently that there can be more than one love in your life…I’m talking romantic love…… and each one is unique and special in its own way, depending on just where we are in our life and the past experiences sometimes make the present feelings come more alive and we appreciate the person in our life so much more than we could have years before.
The man you have your children with is always important to you….. and I’m glad you have such good memories and feelings of your Pete…… its a shame you live to regret not saying you’re sorry, but in the quiet place of your heart and mind, when you speak that to him, he hears you and I know all is forgiven… and he knows your heart for sure!
It is so much better as I know you understand and know to have good feelings for someone than resentment and anger…. positive always is better than negative.
I was actually thinking of you this morning Arlene,, will prob give you a call today or tomorrow…..
Maggie, I remember a saying that was spoken by my father so many times during my youth – it went something like “Too old smart”. Isn’t it funny how things can be so clear when we look back on them?
Arlene, your post was so heart-felt. It leaves me with a lump in my throat. Sometimes we need to live a lifetime to find the true answers that we seek throughout a lifetime. Pete was your true love and you will always have your memories.
AMEN!!! Thanks Rita.