Trivia buffs may remember Wednesday, September 29, 1982, as the day the infamous Tyenol murders began. How do I know this? Actually, I just looked up that date on Google and got over 8 million hits!
For me, though, the date has different significance. On that early autumn day in 1982, a special baby girl was born. My sister’s youngest, my niece, Jessica, was the last of the biological grandchildren, number five for my mom and dad, and the only girl grandchild in the DeSantis family. It was a red-letter day for sure. We love all of our babies, but we were all tickled (especially my dad) when this little bundle of joy came along. She is not just my niece, she is my god-daughter. We’ve always had a special bond.
My father’s special nickname for Jess wasn’t a real word. It was his word, a made-up term of endearment, the best kind of word. Phonetically, it sounded something like “kook-it-zell.” Unfortunately, Jess was only 4-1/2 when dad passed so she has little memory of him. We’ve kept dad’s memory alive for the last 23 years, so she knows him — her memories codified by the retelling of our stories.
As her godmother and aunt, I’ve witnessed Jessica reach her life’s milestones — from baptism to birthdays to First Communion, to dance recitals to proms and eventual college graduation. I didn’t always agree with all of her choices, but I made it my business to be supportive.
For many years (I think it’s nine) the love of her life has been Kris. When I first got to know Kris, my impression was that he was a confirmed bachelor. Several years her senior, I worried he would break her heart. When Jess graduated with her teaching degree, she was unsuccessful in securing a permanent position in Rochester. They decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona where Jessica was offered a job. It was hard for my sister to have her baby move so far away. She made a lot of trips to visit. Something magical happened during the four or so years Kris and Jess lived away. They became a couple. They cared for one another. They grew closer together than they might have if they were in Rochester. And, although theirs is a relationship that took longer to come full-circle than others, it seems they have a strong foundation on which to build their future.
So, I was thrilled when I heard from Jessica today. Late this afternoon, the phone in my office rang. When I answered, I heard Jessica’s voice on the other end. Almost breathlessly, she told me that she and Kris were married earlier today at City Hall. With only her parents present, Kris and Jessica became husband and wife. My sister provided their flowers and a small cake, which they shared over a special lunch at a lovely nearby restaurant.
Jessica and I have always been close. We are known to “bicker,” which is not at all a surprise given that we are both strong-willed. My sister always says that in many ways Jessica is more like me than her. I don’t know about that but we indeed have history together. When she was very little, she couldn’t say “Ro,” it came out, “Fro.” Always shy, her reticence was often misunderstood. She was most comfortable around family. She and my Amy played together all the time. They were an odd couple given Amy’s gregarious nature. They played all kinds of things that did not require toys or video games. Their favorites were “grocery store,” “school,” and most popular in their pre-teen years, “office.” They even had their own briefcases. Their plays were wonderful entertainment for the family. I still miss them and I’m grateful that torch has passed to my granddaughters.
Jessica and Kris are about to reach another milestone. In the very near future, they will, with the grace of God, welcome their first-born, a son, into this world. I pray their lives are blessed with goodness as they begin this special journey.
Kris is a quintessential Irish man. Here, then, is a special Irish blessing for Jessica and Kris:
May God be with you and bless you. May you see your children’s children. May you be poor in misfortunes and rich in blessings. May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.