On January 1992, before the Internet, there was a new phenomenon – personal ads. In April of that year I would turn 31 years old. Most of my friends were married and taking the next logical step of parenthood. Buoyed by a hurtful dig by my best friend, “Maybe God doesn’t want you to be married,” I silently placed a personal ad in The Ann Arbor Observer. I told no one. I saw it as an act of desperation.
I was very specific in my advertisement. Although I don’t remember it word for word, I stated that I was an independent financially secure almost 31 year old who was looking for someone within five years my senior. Must love sports, especially football, and have a sense of adventure. Photo optional. What I received was 24 letters, mostly from men who obviously did not have reading comprehension skills. Writer ages ranged from 22 years old to 72 years old. One was a professor at Eastern Michigan University who included with his long self-indulgent letter article clippings of his popularity in academia. Another writer included a photo of him standing next to his classic car wearing a white tank muscle shirt. Then there was a sweet letter written in pencil with many misspellings, but the contents were not enough to sway me. Feeling disillusioned, the last note card I opened struck an interest in me because I had the same Henri Matisse note cards. The writer said all the things I wanted to hear but I didn’t know if I had the courage to actually go through with calling him. The whole personal ad experiment seemed an unconventional way to meet someone, yet where was my sense of adventure?
Days later I still could not get the note card out of my mind. Maybe God was trying to say something to me.
Our first Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1992, Vinny Sal took me to dinner and gave me a copy of William Shakespeare’s, The Sonnets, Poems of Love. In March, six weeks after meeting each other, he proposed. Shocked, I said nothing. In fact, I said nothing, for three days. This was much too soon, I thought. Number one, who finds the love of their life in a personal ad; number two, who springs the marriage proposal only six short weeks after the meeting; and number three, I don’t know what to say.
Three days later at his apartment, he approached me and said, “You never answered me.” Knowing full well what he what he meant, I asked, “What was the question?” Sitting down next to me, he handed me a small box. As I opened the box I saw a beautiful engagement ring, he said, “Because you love flowers.” How could I say no? But, I told him, we need to wait a year.
To make a long story short, this is how I met the love of my life. A personal ad.
On February 14, 1993 on a beautiful sunlit Sunday morning on the island of Maui, Vinny Sal and I exchanged our wedding vows while standing on the beach in Lahaina surrounded by a few of our friends.
This past Christmas, he would surprise me again. Gathered around the Christmas with my children, he gave me a white box. Thinking the box contained a pair of earrings, I was shocked to see my wedding ring completely restored and shining just has brightly as it did the first time I saw it. I had lost one of the diamonds and I had not worn my wedding ring in several years.
Overcome with tears, I heard in my heart, “Because you love flowers.”
“Love is patient, Love is kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4
Vinny Sal, I love you more each day. You have taught me the true meaning of love. You and our two sons, Leonardo and Christian, are my beautiful flowers.
I would marry you all over again. Yes, I definitely love flowers.