Twenty-seven years ago a young women made the winter trek from Chicago to Baltimore. She left everything behind to protect her child. There was no hesitation.
She lived with her mother across the street. I watched her from my window; incredibly beautiful and always with a smile; long blond hair swirling.
I spoke to her once or twice and finally got the nerve to knock on her door and ask her out for a date. She invited me in and it took minutes to fall in love with her and her child.
After several dates she abruptly told me that if we were getting serious, I needed to understand that the well being of her child (Cindy) came first. She was willing to put the welfare of her daughter before her own happiness. That sealed the deal.
Every relationship is a blur of emotions and activity. What I remember are her declarations of will. Economic hardship and an uncertain professional fate was a factor yet she never stopped improving; she never stopped trying; she eventually made it to the top of her profession.
There was never certainty but there was will. She was better, smarter and more determined than others. How did I know? She told me. She didn’t necessarily use those words but I got the message.
She clearly understood her circumstances but she clearly understood her capabilities. She may have needed some cheerleading and encouragement (who doesn’t) but there was always upward movement.
We married on a Friday evening in May. When the doors flung open after the ceremony there was a brilliant sunset flooding the church with light.
What I got was a hurricane with an angelic face.
She was an incredibly good mother to our two children (Kelly was next). We didn’t completely share child-raising philosophies but there was little to nothing she was not willing to do to insure a better life for her own children.
She was extremely dependable and hard working; she shared life’s demands equally.
She had a big laugh, danced with emotion that led other men to watch and was smarter than me regardless of my formal education. Johns Hopkins was no match for Concetta Sipes.
She is just as beautiful today as the twenty-three year old I met in Baltimore.
She started her own business, was vice-president of the Baltimore County PTA, organized fundraisers for charity and was a force with everything she touched.
No relationship is perfect and ours had challenges. Yet we are here, at 3,000 feet, sitting on our front porch holding hands.
We have both mellowed. We are no longer interested in ruling our worlds.
We just want dignity and peace with the world around us; let others rattle the swords. We want beaches and mountains and friends and daughters.
We decided that we want each other because after staring down the wolves (and one bear) we discovered that all we need is ourselves.
To understand that after twenty-five years of marriage is remarkable.
To stare at her blond hair reflecting the light of a fireplace and to look at a woman who could pass for twenty years younger, what I understand is that there are moments where passion and dependability, integrity and true-grit, intelligence and determination override all challenges.
So happy twenty-fifth anniversary Concetta; may there be twenty-five more.