Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It was 30 years ago today....

The picture leaves a little bit to be desired. I shot it last night with a digital camera under the glaring overhead lights of my dining room bulbs. It was encased in a frame, covered in glass. The bulbs give the picture a yellowish cast that makes it resemble a lithograph.

This photograph was taken on the day I was married, October 8th, 1983, thirty years ago today to Annette Clare Klinger.

The marriage only lasted 15 years. The divorce is now as old as the marriage itself. But I will remember that day for a long time. Most people who attended the wedding remember it, too.

The picture was snapped on an afternoon as glorious as the weather today. The temperature never rose about 75 degrees. There wasn't a single cloud to be found anywhere in the heavens above.  I was married to my bride under "Crystal Blue Persuasion" skies. 

We wrote our own vows to one another. I carried mine on a torn and tattered piece of paper in my wallet for many years afterwards. Just seconds after saying our vows, a flock of Canadian geese flew overhead on their way to greener pastures down South. Their collective honks and calls seemed like a blessing at the time.

The pastor's name was John Sweet. He was a minister from a Presbyterian church around the corner from the humble brick row home where the Klingers lived, in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. His wife was named Sharon. Many wonderful moments happened that day, but the most memorable moment and the highlight of the entire day was her rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" at the end of the ceremony.

The song gave everyone who heard her sing chills. I still get them when I remember. Her voice was  a soaring soprano that seemed to lift as high as the tall, stately maples that basked Curtis Arboretum in a glorious canopy of gold, green, red and orange and yellow. Summer was ending with a bang.

And then she sang.

Even the heavenly trumpets of the geese seemed pedestrian in comparison.

I had heard that some members of the choir in John's Presbyterian church did not want her to to sing with them in the choir. When she opened her mouth, and I heard her voice for the first time, the truth of the matter was revealed. None of them would ever match her talent, the sheer power of her vocal range. She would drown them all out. She was too good for them, by a long shot.

I am not certain, but that may have been her first public "performance." Three years later, she debuted at the Berlin Opera House. You can see her singing professionally with Placido Domingo here in this link:


The marriage was blessed in a variety of ways, especially on the day of the wedding. Its ending was hard and those of us in the middle of it all suffered greatly from its demise. But Annette and I have both said many times we would endure all its tears and hardships for the children we brought into the world.

I can live with the pain. The anniversary still brings many, many wonderful memories.

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