Michael J. Daly 46 years with a woman of patience
Forty-six years ago — July 14, 1972 — Nicholas Panuzio, then the Republican mayor of Bridgeport, stood in a ground-floor hallway of the Holiday Inn hotel here and a guy with wristwatches strapped all up his forearm tried to sell him one.
“Ya know who this is?” a guy with the mayor said to the guy with the watches. “This is the MAYOR.”
The watch guy sized up Panuzio for a minute.
“Yeah, sure,” he muttered.
Nevertheless, he rolled down his sleeve and trudged off. It was a pure Bridgeport moment. And it happened at the wedding reception of two 23-year-olds — your columnist and the lovely Sharon M. Tierney, the then-newly minted Mrs. Daly.
The Holiday Inn was not the one that is in Bridgeport now. The Holiday Inn of this story stood on Lafayette Boulevard, where a Bob’s Furniture Store and a Dunkin’ Donuts are now.
It was about 114 degrees, give or take a few, outside that day and about 97 degrees inside the hotel. You’d have thought central air was an idea in its infancy — or more accurately in this case — on its deathbed.
The mayor was in the Holiday Inn as a guest at the wedding reception of his fetching receptionist, the aforementioned Sharon Tierney.
Somewhere in a closet in our house is a towel from the place we stayed at in Jamaica on our honeymoon. The name of the place was The Colony, on the beach in Montego Bay.
A few years after the honeymoon, we returned to Jamaica but stayed in a rented house. We walked down the beach one afternoon to visit The Colony.
When we got to where it should have been, we saw nothing but lush tropical overgrowth.
Closer inspection showed that indeed the little hotel was still there, but abandoned, the vegetation having re-established its dominance.
We made our way through the undergrowth onto a patio. The pool was there, but held only a green slime. Glasses sat on the nearby bar in front of empty stools. It looked like one night, after “last call,” everyone — and I mean everyone — just got up and left.
Somehow, seeing your honeymoon spot abandoned and overgrown within a few years of your visit didn’t seem much of a promising omen for a marriage.
So much for omens.
(I’d hate to think it was that swiped towel that led to the beginning of the end.)
I don’t know what the secret to a long marriage is. I do know, though, what it has taken on the part of the former Sharon Tierney: patience by the truckload.
And then more patience.
And on the few occasions when the patience simply drained out, she would replenish the supply by first wrapping me in a blanket of frost and turning her attention to the children until the tank was full again.
I don’t believe this marriage has been unique. Like any other, though, it’s certainly had its unique moments: Like the first dinner she prepared for her in-laws in the $215-a-month Bridgeport apartment at which the chicken bled like rare beef.
But in its general rhythm, I would imagine, it’s been like many other long-term relationships.
It would be nice to say it’s been 46 years of unremitting bliss, of gossamer evenings and candlelight. Alas, there’s been as much candlelight caused by power outages and missed UI bill payments as by the romantic dinner.
We actually get along pretty well. Most nights we’ve even slept in the same house. And come on, Mother Teresa and Mr. Rogers couldn’t live together for 46 years without one of them throwing a shoe at the other. That’s just a figure of speech, of course.
Four children have come from this marriage, and now three grandsons and a granddaughter. They are exciting and exhausting at every stage.
And now with the oldest age 41, we understand that their capacity to excite and exhaust apparently will never end. I haven’t come across the old towel from The Colony in a few years. Last I saw it, the towel was a little frayed at the edges and thin in spots.
It looked, though, like in a pinch two people could use it to dry off from a dip in the Caribbean, stroll to the bar, pull up two stools and marvel at 46 years together.
Michael J. Daly is editor of the editorial page of the Connecticut Post. Email: email@example.com.