Very soon my book, “Reuniting–When The Past Becomes a Present” will be published as an E-Book. I would like to share the Introduction of the book here to give you a sneak peek of what is to come. I will welcome all comments as I move this forward. Thanks.
Our wedding announcement appeared in the Styles Section of the Sunday New York Times on March 14, 2010.
Ann Vincola and Alan Votta
Ann Patavino Vincola and Alan S. Votta were married Saturday at the Church of God of Prophecy in Charleston, S.C. The Rev. Bernie Levesque, the church’s pastor, performed the ceremony.
The bride, 67, will take her husband’s name. She owns Tisbury, a shop on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts that sells antiques and interior design services. She graduated from SUNY College at Cortland and received a master’s degree in administration from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. She is a daughter of Helen M. Patavino of Wilbraham, Mass., and the late Carmen A. Patavino.
The bridegroom, also 67, retired as a franchise owner of Chuck Campbell’s Wallpaper, Blinds and Decorating Services in Mount Pleasant, S.C. He served 24 years in the Navy, retiring with the rank of chief. He was last stationed at the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Training Center in Charleston. He is a son of the late Anne Votta and the late Alexander Votta, who lived in Yonkers.
The couple met in September 1956, as seventh graders at Charles E. Gorton High School in Yonkers. Mr. Votta followed Ms. Vincola home on the first day of school.
“I waited until she got inside of her house, touched the front steps and promised myself that I would be back,” Mr. Votta recalled. “When I first saw her, it was like an instant affection. I spotted her out of this entire entourage of seventh graders. She was just so pretty, she really stood out.”
They became friendly over the next few years until they became high school sweethearts during their senior year at Gorton. Their relationship ended the following year when Ms. Vincola went off to college.
Mr. Votta joined the Navy in 1962, married in 1965 and eventually had three children. He became a widower in 2006. He often wondered about his first love.
“The lights went dim, but they never went out,” he said about his teenage romance with Ms. Vincola, “All those years, whenever I was feeling down and wanted to cheer myself up, I would think of Ann.”
Ms. Vincola married in 1972 and had two children; her marriage ended in divorce in 2000.
In March 2009, the high school sweethearts were reunited when Mr. Votta tracked Ms. Vincola down on Facebook.
“It was wonderful just seeing his name pop up on my phone,” she said, “just wonderful.”
Both single at the time, they began corresponding by phone and e-mail messages. Two months later, he visited her at her home on Martha’s Vineyard and a new romance blossomed.
“It is very powerful to know that after all of these years, someone could still feel a certain way about me,” Ms. Vincola said. “We just fit like a glove together.” By VINCENT M. MALLOZZI
Alan is a storyteller. He loves to tell stories—especially our story—over and over and over again. He has gotten quite accustomed to stopping everyone we come in contact with (cashiers at the supermarket, waiters and waitresses, old and new acquaintances, doctors, taxi drivers, EVERYONE) about our story. The reaction is always a positive one. It brings a smile to the face and even a tear to the eye—to ours and to the listener’s. We have been amazed at how our story has resonated with the masses and also how many people we have encountered that have similar stories and have experienced the wonderful exhilaration of reconnecting with lost love.
As I began contemplating writing it all down and sharing the whole story, we were also faced with several personal and family issues that required much thought and struggle. Alan had been subjected to a serious injustice brought upon him by his deceased wife and his stepson, and in an attempt to set the record straight, he had begun to write letters to some family members. The letter writing became a cleansing of sorts and another way for us to fully understand what had transpired in our lives before our reconnection. Sadly, as the situation evolved, Alan found it necessary to break ties with his stepson and he became embroiled in a court case with him. However, at the same time it gave us a much better understanding of just who we both are and what ultimately matters in life and in our life together All of that soul searching led me to believe that I really must tell it all—that the whole story is compelling enough to be shared with the world. I began jotting down some notes and thought about the general outline using the concept of reuniting as my focus.
Although we are both rather private people and we have lived most of our lives quietly, without the need to bring attention to ourselves, that all seemed to change when we came together again. I’m sure some will be surprised that I have decided to reveal intimate details of our lives, but loving Alan as I do and understanding our strong commitment to one another, I haven’t hesitated one minute. I also haven’t hesitated to speak about our belief in Divine Intervention. We believe that God has had a hand in it all and we are certain that some of our dearly departed relatives and friends have been instrumental in making our reunion a reality. I also feel that our individual stories, along with our combined story, are probably similar to the struggles and the joys that many people have experienced. Consequently, I think all of us should recognize the importance of our individual accomplishments, as well as the failures, and have no regrets for the decisions we may have made along the way.
I determined initially that I would structure the book with the concept of “reuniting” as the foundation; i.e. how we reunited, of course, and then that we also reunited with family and friends along the way making it an even more enthralling story. I didn’t get very far then. But it was a start. It wasn’t until almost a year and half after our wedding that I went back to our narrative and then I was committed. I began to work on it in earnest. Also at that time we were knee deep in planning our 50th high school reunion from Gorton High School in Yonkers, NY. The initial idea for that reunion took shape at our wedding in Charleston, SC when eleven of our old high school friends and graduates from Gorton reunited and we easily found ourselves going back in time. We developed a planning committee for the 50th shortly thereafter.
The other monumental and exciting happening in our lives is that each of us has become an Italian citizen! Because of our Italian heritage and direct line from our grandfathers we were able to establish residency in Termoli, Italy, when we visited there on what became our honeymoon trip in the fall following our wedding. Thus, with dual citizenship, and our Italian passports in hand, we hope to have our dream of one day living in Italy become a reality.
Alan and I have been together every single day since just before our engagement party. We have travelled up and down the east coast from Martha’s Vineyard to Charleston to Sarasota so many times that we believe the car could navigate on its own. We have fun every day and we laugh a lot. We do everything together and find that we are side by side every minute of the day and night. Did I ever think that I could be that connected to another human being? No! But that is the way it is. We never tire of one another and feel strange if the other is not around. We feel blessed that we have been given this gift of sharing our lives again.
Although our reuniting and marrying has resulted in untold pleasure and joy, we have also had to deal with some hard realities of life. We have spent many hours simply talking and listening to one another, and that has made our union even stronger.
In this era of social media—and since FaceBook is what brought us together after all—we have become advocates for the benefits of social media outlets, even for oldsters like us! It enabled us to reunite in the first place and it has allowed us to stay in close contact with the many friends with whom we have reconnected along the way. We have been amazed at the number of times the announcement of our wedding in The New York Times, has been noticed and picked up by other sources. I found the following quote as part of The Couples Tool Kit:
Facebook has surfaced to introduce the daily possibility of reunions with soul mates from 7th grade. Witness this New York Times piece on the wedding of Ann Patavino Vincola and Alan S. Votta who at 67, after previous marriages and decades apart, were blissfully joined together in holy matrimony. This happy ending was the outcome of Mr. Votta’s search for his childhood sweetheart utilizing the services of the 21st Century version of Yenta The Matchmaker, Facebook. It is common knowledge that the baby boomer generation has invaded the once private bastion of college age students with their usual vigor and ferocity.
It has been an interesting journey: how it began, what happened in between, and where we are now.
Beautifully written, Ann. There is no doubt that your re-connecting was divine intervention. Can’t wait to read the rest! Love to you and Alan.
What I loved best about story was when all your classmates sang the high school song at your wedding ceremony. When I tell the story I always include that and the vocalist keeping us all entertained with love songs from that time.
I would love to read the rest. My husband, Jerry, and I, have connections to the past, although we never “met” one another until our first date. There is a Hebrew word, “bashert,” which basically means “meant to be,” and that is how we feel about our relationship. Keep writing!