Matrimonial musing


A couple this happy doesn’t need a romantic backdrop. Our friend Andrea Patalano,an officer of the Capitaneria di Porto, wed his ladylove on May 10, 2008.

The following has nothing to do with Venice, but a friend has urged (commanded) me to write this, so here goes.

Last month I was in Washington D.C. for two weddings, both involving people extremely dear to me and, as it happens, at two distant points on the matrimonial timeline.

Similarities: Both ceremonies were conducted according to the Episcopal ritual. Both were deeply moving. Both couples are unfathomably in love.

Differences:  One was in a historic private house, the other in a small neighborhood church. One was attended by mostly friends; the other by mostly relatives.  One was evening, one was morning.

What made the deepest impression on me was not simply the solemnity of the vows, which always affects me, but hearing the same promises spoken across the chasm of time and experience which separates the two happy couples.

Event One was the wedding of my only niece, Re’ Leps, now Teague; both she and her husband, Erik Teague, are on or near 30 years old, joyfully undertaking the first (one hopes the only) marriage of their lives. I regret the lack of a suitable photo here; one will be added as soon as I can get one. But I can introduce them via their websites:  Re’ has two ( and and Erik has two which I am unable to make behave as links, but here goes: and haberdashery.

Event Two, a week later, was the wedding of my widowed ex-sister-in-law who had fallen in love with an amazing (widower) man.  Both on or near 70 years old, and joyfully undertaking the second marriage of their lives.

On October 20, 2012, Rita Trefz and Bruce Allan tied the proverbial knot, adored by their assembled sisters, brothers, children, and grandchildren.

I don’t know which couple was more adorable, the shiny just-minted little newbies or the softly gleaming veterans, bearing the patina of pain and perseverance, who had a very different feeling when pronouncing the very same words.

Certainly they all felt same conviction and sincerity.  But it’s one thing to promise fidelity for better/for worse, for richer/for poorer, “in sickness and in health” when you’re young and iridescent with vitality — it’s like promising never to lie or to save ten dollars every month.  How hard could this be?

It’s another thing, though, to vow fidelity to someone “in sickness and health” when each of you has nursed your spouse through terminal cancer.

One meditates (“one”would be me) on the beauty of a couple’s determination to do something which they have never yet confronted, and hence has no idea whether or how they will manage to maintain the promise, or what toll it will take when they do.

One also meditates on the beauty of a couple’s promise to do a thing of which they clearly know the meaning, the depth, the breadth, the board feet, the gross tonnage, of what they’re saying.

In any case, all four spouses meant it with all their hearts.

They were good days for Kleenex.

I have no idea who she is, but I’m very happy I went out to do the shopping at the right moment on December 2, 2006.

Cristiana Rigotti gets ready to board our rowing club’s 8-oar gondola to be rowed in state, with her father, across the lagoon to the church of the Redentore at 3:30 PM on July 2, 2006. She’s smiling now, but it’s as hot as a skillet on a summer afternoon on the water, and the trip took at least 45 minutes.  I give her credit for grit.

I realize everyone was praying for it not to rain, but a prayer for a few more clouds wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Picture-perfect sun translates into the heat of Hades in July.

I was walking home on June 30, 2012, when I encountered this bride heading toward her reception (I think) at the nearby Greenhouse near the Giardini. The T-shirted man is not her groom, but one of several passersby who asked to have their picture taken with her. (She had just posed with the three women on the bench.) I never saw her groom, but she had fabulous red shoes, so I hope that wherever he was, he’s going to be able to keep up with her.

And then come kids, presumably — or in this case, tiny gnomes with pieces of bread.

And in the fullness of time, grandkids…..

…interspersed with the eternal, everlasting laundry….I think they ought to add “For cleaner, for dirtier” in the vows.

Then time passes and you keep getting older, and you have to sit down more often, but at least you’re still together.

And eventually one of you dies, and your friends or relatives or colleagues send big expensive wreaths to your funeral.

If you keep a shop, you shut it for a day or two and put up the notice of the demise of your spouse which includes the funeral details, so everybody can attend.

In this case, Giancarlo Cimitan passed away on Feb. 7, 2009, and the neighbors have put up their own notice too: It says “The friends and colleagues and everyone who loved Giancarlo  are close to Daniela.” I include this episode not to remind us that we all are doomed, but to remind us that Venice is not composed entirely of tourists.

So don’t be stingy with the kisses, people. They’re one of the few truly sustainable resources on this earth.

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Categories : Venetian-ness


  1. Debby says:

    Beautifully written, I’m glad you adhere to your friend’s urging, and wrote this posting. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Debi says:

    another good one!