The Journey to Publication – Part One

It has most certainly been a journey.  And a learning experience as well.  A journey that began about six months after our wedding in March 2010 when the thought struck me that I might just want to write about how Alan and I got together again.  I started writing some notes to myself on my computer about what had transpired in our lives up to that point, primarily concentrating on the theme of reuniting.  I wrote about our 25th high school reunion and my thoughts really centered around what it meant to us to reunite with one another, of course, but also to connect with so many old friends.  That is as far as I got then.  I didn’t return to my notes until almost a year later when I determined that I did want to tell our story–the whole story about how Alan and I rekindled our romance, what had happened to both of is in the intervening 50 years and what our life is like today.  I was hooked.  I became a writer!

Although I was an English major in college, I was never totally enamored with the process of writing and even getting down to writing a paper was a major chore for me.  In my work as a consultant I did publish many articles on work/life balance, but usually with the help of a publicist or writer.  And I certainly never held the dream of becoming an author or writing a book.  That wasn’t me.  That wasn’t my skill set.  So, when writing my memoir took hold and the publication of Reunited:  When the Past Becomes a Present became a reality, no one was more surprised than me.  I became a writer!  And the journey became one of learning about the self-publishing industry.  Today we are a company–AV Publishing LLC.

My daughter, Leigh Vincola, is a writer. She has a master’s degree from Simmons College in writing; she has taught writing; and she has published some of her work.  In fact, I have included a piece of hers as the Afterword in my book.  She was instrumental in encouraging me to pursue my project and she offered the first assistance I sought to read my skeletal manuscript, critique it, and make suggestions.  I think that was the point at which I felt I might, in fact, really be able to do this.  I found myself going back to it on almost a daily basis–editing, re-reading, and adding to my growing memoir.  Leigh helped with the overall structure, which was very critical.  All of this took place during the time that Alan and I were hopscotching back and forth from Charleston to Martha’s Vineyard and Sarasota on a fairly regular basis.  Our old Dell Inspiron laptop had bit the dust and we made the investment in a MacBook Pro and also decided at that time to use a Verizon broadband that would enable me to write wherever we were–including in the car–which seemed to be the place we found ourselves most often.  So, Alan drove and I wrote.  I wrote about our romance during our senior year in high school. I wrote all about Alan’s life when I wasn’t around during the ensuing 50 years, and I told my story too.  I wrote about how our reunion began and the emails that preceded our first face-to-face meeting.  I wrote about our new courtship, our new romance, and how we reunited with so many of our old friends from high school.  I included all of the details of our engagement and our wedding and the planning of our 50th high school reunion.  I even added details about our trips to Italy and described our experience securing dual citizenship.  It flowed and it was fun.  I didn’t labor over it at all.  I wrote quickly and smoothly.  I was amazed.  And Alan couldn’t have been sweeter in the encouragement he has shown throughout the whole process.  He listened as I read back to him and he was always able to add little bits here and there that I somehow had forgotten.  His memory is so much better than mine.  And he has encouraged and inspired me every step of the way by telling me that he is very proud of me for accomplishing this.

I felt that I had developed something which could work, but I needed help.  By that time it was December of 2011, and I had been working in Microsoft Word on my MacPro. I knew that I needed to have others–beside Alan and me and my daughter–read what I had written.  The first thing I did was print several copies of my manuscript and I asked friends and family members to read what I had come up with thus far.  I called them my “first tier” of readers.  The response was helpful.  Although everyone loved what I had done and offered praise and encouragement, I got little in the way of detailed assistance.  I realized then that I needed a professional editor.  I was awake in the middle of the night one night and lay in bed with my Droid in hand reading articles on HuffPost (as I often do when I can’t sleep), and an add popped up for an editor named Nicole Bokat.  I looked at her website and I sent her an email then and there.  The next day we spoke on the phone and we talked business and I hired her as my editor.  It wasn’t until March of 2012 that Nicole had the time to read my manuscript and edit it.  I was committed.  I had spent money.  And some day this book was going to be published.

After Nicole edited the manuscript and I got all of the other feedback I sought, it took me a few months to rewrite, restructure, embellish, and enhance the entire manuscript.  Leigh also helped once again, particularly with the structure of the book.  It was beginning to  really take shape and was greatly improved.  With Nicole’s guidance I began the process of searching for a literary agent.  I had, prior to that, spent a lot of time poking around the internet and had found many sites that could lead me to agents.  I began making lists, after, that is, reviewing agent websites to determine if we might be a fit.  I also made a phone call to Jim Levine, an old colleague of mine, who now owns an important literary agency in New York, Levine Greenburg Literary Agency.  Lo and behold, he remembered me, took my call, and said that he would read my manuscript.  That was totally amazing to me.  He read it in one night (by this time it was almost 200 pages) and called me back the next morning.  He decided to pass on it.  He said in today’s market it would be hard to get my kind of story the attention I wanted.  But, I think, the mere fact that he read it, gave me the impetus to continue–to move onward and see how I might interest others.  So, I sent out query letters–lots and lots of query letters–maybe 150 in all.  I got a few nice email responses, sometimes no response at all, but no takers.  Only one agent kept me on a string for about six months.  I received a great email from Emma Sweeney, of Emma Sweeney Agency, and she asked if she could have an exclusive for about a month.  I was very excited, but Nicole had warned me of being held up in that way.   It took much longer than a month with several back and forth emails between Emma and me.  Then her assistant phoned me and said they would need to pass.  Another few months went by and they asked if they could review it again! They ultimately passed on it, but it gave me more impetus to forge ahead. In the meantime I had continued sending out queries, but I also started looking at self-publishing and what that meant in today’s market.

My next blog will describe the second part of this journey and the decision to self-publish.

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Book Cover

Book Cover

This is the cover of my book: “Reunited: When the Past Becomes a Present. Coming soon.

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Our Wedding Day

Our Wedding Day.

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Our Wedding Day

Three years ago today–March 13, 2010

What an event.  So much happiness.  Can’t believe that three years have gone by.  A lot has happened since then–more laughter, more happiness, more fun and more adventure. The book will tell all.  Coming very soon now.

Here’s a look at the chapter on Our Wedding.

THE WEDDING

Our wedding was simply a wonderful event.  Everyone commented that it was the best wedding they had ever attended.

When we had gotten back to Charleston in October of 2009 we started the ball rolling with the planning of our wedding.  At first we determined that we would be married at the Charleston Air Force Base Chapel and hold the reception at the Officer’s Club at the base.  We went there to check things out, reserved the date, and gave them a deposit.  Then, on Friday, October 24th, just after we had returned home to the cul de sac, our neighbor, Doris, came walking in the door.  It was a beautiful day and the doors were wide open.  Doris called out, “Yoohoo. I’m so glad that you guys are back here.  I’m getting married today and I want you to come to my wedding.”  Now Doris was almost 80 years old at the time and she was to be married to Don, her 90 year old boyfriend.  The wedding was scheduled for 3 o’clock that afternoon at the church down the street, The Church of God of Prophecy.  After some pleasant chitchat between us, Doris said, “Gotta run.  Need to get on our wedding duds.”

We had thought about that church for our wedding and had attempted to contact the pastor, but had no luck reaching him.  We sat among the congregation for Doris and Don’s wedding that afternoon along with the rest of the neighborhood.  It was the most delightful experience.  Doris is a member of a church choir and the choir was stationed on the altar of the church.  As we entered they were singing such tunes as “Doris, Doris, give me your answer do” (to the tune of ‘Daisy, Daisy’) and other old time favorites.  We were enthralled.  At the reception, which followed at Doris’ house we asked about the possibility of being married at that church ourselves and Doris gave us the correct number to contact the pastor.

Sadly, Don passed away on October 27, 2011, just three days after their second anniversary.  We had just returned back to Charleston after being up north and were sad to hear of his passing.  At his funeral, while offering our condolences to Doris, we told her again how important their wedding was to us and that we were indebted to them for the very extraordinary experience it was for us.  Doris told me to “love each other very much and make the most of every day.”  We were glad that they had two years together, and that they had impacted our lives.

Within a week of Doris and Don’s wedding we scheduled a meeting with Bernie Levesque, the pastor of The Church of God of Prophecy, and decided that our wedding would take place at his church.  We needed to stick with the date of March 13th because it was the date that had been available at the Air Force Base and our “Save the Date” cards had already been mailed.  We had not yet decided on just who would marry us and prior to our meeting with Bernie we said to one another, “Maybe if we like him well enough we will ask him to officiate.”  Two minutes after we walked in the door, said our hellos, we knew we had our guy. Prior to that we had been all over the place with making a selection.  We even spoke with a priest at the Catholic Church and learned that if we wanted to marry in the church, we would both have to have our former marriages annulled, and then pay the church $5000 and wait two years.  That wasn’t going to work.  We learned that there are priests who will perform a wedding ceremony outside of the church, but that might be expensive too because we would have to transport that official to us.  It seemed perfect to us to be married right down the street from the house and then have the reception at home.  The one other ingredient that was a must for us was that we desperately wanted Doris’ choir to sing at our wedding.  So we scrapped the original plans and moved forward with our new plans with Pastor Bernie Levesque as the man who would marry us.

Preparations for our wedding day began.

We had been in touch with several of our high school friends after we reconnected and we decided that we would ask them to attend.  There were several other friends from the Vineyard, from Massachusetts, and from Florida, that we wanted there with us as well.  In all, approximately 144 invitations were sent and 108 people were in attendance—from all over the country.  My cousin, Piera, from Torino, Italy was even trying to make it too, but it eventually became impossible for her to get there.

I had a great time planning it.  I love to plan events and I was in all my glory planning this one for us.  Ordering the invitations, the flowers, the cake—all of it—was such fun.  It was an interesting proposition for me considering that I was out of my element, not being from Charleston, and needing to start from a blank slate, i.e. not knowing vendors.  But with the help of Catherine (again) and others, it all soon fell into place.

Early on we determined that we would enlist the catering services of “The Fat Hen” restaurant.  The owner and chef at that restaurant on Johns Island had two restaurants at the time and they had become favorites of ours.  We had a meeting with talented Chef Fred Neuvill and his engaging catering manager, Amy Cook, and that was it.  We were committed.

The next thing on our agenda was to contact the director of the choir of The Wayfaring Singers, and secure their services as well.  Robin Rogers, the choir director, along with his wife Marianne, became the perfect persons to help us with the overall planning for the ceremony itself.  My musician son, David, also helped by giving us some suggestions for the music too.  Meanwhile, with the help of a business colleague of mine who had provided me the outline of his own wedding ceremony, I began writing the ceremony for our wedding.  We also continued to meet with Bernie Levesque.  It was at the time when Alan’s serious difficulty with his stepson was in full bloom and Bernie helped Alan deal with it, giving him emotional and spiritual guidance to enable him to forge ahead and not look back.  Bernie became a very important person in our lives.

I was never aware that Alan had followed me home from school that first day back in 1956, touched the steps, and made a promise that was close to his heart; he promised himself that he would return.  But believe me—that story has been retold over and over and over again today.  It even made our wedding ceremony and the NY Times announcement of our wedding.  We were thrilled to have been selected to have our story appear in the Sunday Styles Section of The New York Times.  Just two weeks before the wedding I took a chance and sent in some information about us, which customarily needs to be submitted at least six weeks prior to the wedding to be selected.  We were shocked to be contacted by Vinny Malozzi, writer for The Styles Section of The New York Times, and absolutely delighted that he liked our story well enough to write about us and print it.  We were interviewed and Pastor Bernie was interviewed as well, to make sure that it was all legit.

We also planned a rehearsal dinner for the night before the wedding.  Bernie arranged for us to use the church hall for a dinner that followed the ceremony rehearsal in the church.  We sent out invitations for a ‘Low Country Dinner’ for which we contracted with a well-known local caterer.  The menu consisted of shrimp, chicken, pulled pork, corn, rice and beans.  Very delicious.  It had started raining when they began to set up the grills outside, but they pulled it off beautifully.  And then Catherine came through once again with delicious deserts—her specialty.  She made several pies and another red velvet cake.  It was also my brother-in-law Eddie’s birthday so we sang Happy Birthday to him and we listened to a song that Bernie introduced to the group as the song that he thought most exemplified our story—“After All” by Peter Cetera and Cher.  Soon after we met Bernie he told us that he believed that song was meant for us.  We had dinner with Bernie and his wife shortly after we celebrated our 2nd anniversary and he presented us with a framed copy of the lyrics of the song “After All” along with the CD—a wonderful gift to treasure always.

It was a special beginning to an exceptional few days in our lives.  Cousins of mine flew in from California and they were able to see another cousin, who had driven up from Fort Myers, Florida.  They hadn’t seen one another in many years.  Others flew in from all over the country. One of our friends commented, “I didn’t realize that I was coming to a Broadway play!”  We wanted it to be spiritual and somewhat religious in tone, but we also wanted it to be fun.  And it was.  Everyone absolutely loved it.

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Update on Publication and a Chapter to Share

I am putting the finishing touches on my memoir manuscript and getting a cover designed.  Hoping that publication will actually be sometime next month.

I am posting the chapter in the book entitled “Italy”.  Alan and I have made two trips to Italy since we reunited in 2009.  It is our desire to spend a good deal more time there and perhaps even live in Italy (in the south, of course) at some point.  Hope you like it.

11. ITALY

Italy and our Italian heritage have come to play a major part in our lives, giving us an antidote to the more negative aspects, opening up new vistas, and providing us with another monumental and exciting milestone.  Because of our Italian heritage and direct line from our grandfathers, we have become Italian citizens!

I had been to Italy several times over the years, but Alan had never travelled there.  In fact, one of his first thoughts after his wife passed away and he was free to do what he wanted, was to take a trip to Italy and visit the town of his grandfather’s birth, Venafro.  He had applied for his first passport and was thinking about taking that trip just before we reunited.  In our initial discussions and emails, we talked about Italy and the hometowns of our grandparents.  We discovered that Alan’s grandfather and my grandparents were both from the Molize region and had left the towns of Venafro and Montelongo, respectively (a forty minute drive apart—a mind-boggling thought considering the size of the country—destiny!), to emigrate to America in the early 1900’s.  We jokingly have said that it is probably a good thing that we didn’t marry and have children together when we were young because we may be related!  When Alan’s grandfather left Venafro, he went first to Glasgow, Scotland and married Mary Gillespie before bringing his new wife to Yonkers, NY.  My grandparents, on the other hand, went to Mount Vernon, NY and that is where my parents were born.

Alan and I began talking a great deal about Italy and knew from the beginning of our new relationship that we would be traveling there as soon as we could.

We started reading about Italy and Alan was introduced to several books about living in Italy to set the stage for what we/he might expect.  I had already been convinced that I wanted to spend some extended time in the country of my ancestors, but I needed to have Alan understand that as well.  We also began to communicate more with my Italian cousin Piera who lives in Torino, Italy.  Alan had the opportunity to speak with her on the phone several times and he soon learned what fun she is.  She is an amazing individual and I couldn’t wait until Alan met her.  At the same time my daughter, Leigh, began to seriously consider what it would take to live and work in Italy: something she had discussed with my father before he passed away, and after she and I had taken a trip together to Italy in 2002.

Leigh had been to Italy several times—the first time with me when she was 13 years old.  (When our children were young my first husband and I usually did things a little out of the norm.  Special trips became a sort of ‘rite of passage’ for our non-Jewish children who found all of their friends having bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs. His father took David to Africa and I took Leigh to Italy.  In retrospect, I guess Italy was a good idea for Leigh and it had a major impact on her.  Little did I know that then, though).  She went to Italy a few times on her own which were work-related trips, and the story I have included in the ‘Afterward’ of this book will show how the visit we made together to the town where my grandmother was born laid the foundation for our dream that living in Italy could become reality for all of us.  Leigh is the real writer in the family and I am very proud of her accomplishments.  She wrote the Montelongo story after our trip taken in March of 2002.  She never published it thinking that it “wasn’t her best work”; but I have continued to share it with many people because I think it is so good. I have her permission to share it here.  I feel it tells a lot about our family, our interest in Italy, her love for her grandfather, and about the very special bond she and I have with one another.

That trip to Italy with Leigh in 2002 was my fifth trip to that country.  My first experience in Italy was in 1967 when I first met my mother’s relatives in Torino.  I was able to bring greetings from my grandfather to his sister whom he hadn’t seen in fifty years.  It was a very moving experience for all of us.  My parents had also taken two trips to Italy during the 80’s and had visited those relatives as well as other relatives of my mother’s in Naples.  Cousin Piera came to the U.S. and my sister and nephews met all of them on different occasions in Italy.  Leigh has spent considerable time with Piera in Italy as well. We consider Piera a very important part of our very close extended family.

In preparation for an extended time in Italy on a WOOF program (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), Leigh decided to try to find out more about where her grandfather’s forbears derived from.  We didn’t know much about that history and Leigh started digging around.  By searching on the internet she found Marco Micone (Micone was my grandmother’s maiden name) who was originally from Montelongo, Italy, the town we knew to be where my grandmother was born.  Marco lives in Canada and is a playwright and translator.  Leigh contacted him and they determined that we indeed are related.  He invited Leigh to stay at the family homestead, which he still maintained in Montelongo.  At the same time I was planning a trip to England for an antique shopping spree.  I became intrigued with it all and decided to meet Leigh in Italy and accompany her to Montelongo.  Leigh’s story in the Afterward will give you the rest of the details of that trip.

Sharing all of this with Alan made the desire to go to his grandfather’s birthplace even stronger for him, and that’s when he began reading books about Italy and consuming all he could get his hands on about the Italian way of life.  Leigh had been living in Marblehead, Massachusetts and working in public relations in the food and restaurant industry.  But she was seriously thinking about taking the huge leap of leaving the U.S. and living in Italy for a time.  She knew she needed to give it a go.  She had been studying Italian for a few years; taking courses as well as individual lessons with an Italian tutor.  She also started researching the process of applying for dual citizenship and she connected with Peter Farina of ItalyMondo, a company in the business of helping Americans secure their Italian passports and dual citizenship.  The three of us then decided to contract with Peter and really get the ball rolling to become official citizens of Italia.

After Alan and I connected with the process too (a process that became much more involved as time wore on), we made the decision to take a trip ourselves—our honeymoon.  Leigh was ready in November and so were we.  We flew together to Rome and we lived in an apartment together in Termoli, Italy, where we established residency, a necessary step to expedite the dual citizenship process.  Leigh had then planned to take up residence in Florence and we spent some time there too.  We spent a little more than a month in Italy and terminated the trip in Milan so that we could spend some time with Piera in Torino.  We were also able to see Piera’s brother, Tony, and mother, Yolanda, too.  Sadly, both of them passed away the following year in 2011.  We left Leigh living in Florence where she remained until she secured employment in the south of Italy, Puglia; the heel of the boot, which is ironic because although she expected to make a life for herself in Florence, she wound up back in the south, the area where we started our trip.  Leigh then began working for a company called Southern Visions Travel as a marketing consultant.  In the spring of 2011 the SV team opened La Cucina at Gelso Bianco, a villa and cooking school, which, of course, fit in with Leigh’s culinary background.  Leigh then moved from Monopoli to Ostuni.  It was all very exciting.  It is the region of Italy to which we would ultimately like to move, because we loved it so when we spent only a few days there on our first trip.  Just prior to our second visit, Leigh was contacted by House Hunters International, and they filmed an episode about her and her life in Ostuni, which ultimately aired on HGTV in the states.  Embarking on a new venture; i.e. Leigh Vincola, Wellnes Coaching and Personal Cartography, she now spends part of the year in the states and part in Italy conducting retreats for her clients.

We love the south of Italy, particularly the region of Puglia.  While we were in Italy the first time, we visited a few towns in Puglia, but didn’t spend as much time there as we would have liked.  Then when Leigh lived and worked in Ostuni and the surrounding area of the south, and we were able to more fully appreciate life in Puglia, we became convinced that spending part of our lives there, too, would be our ultimate desire. If we are able to sell real estate in the U.S., we feel that we could then either rent or buy property in Italy.  We have thoughts of perhaps doing a home exchange at first and spending about six months in Puglia to determine if we would really like it.  I have been trying to learn Italian and have finally become serious about that challenge.  I have taken a few courses and I am using Rosetta Stone.  I realize how very difficult it is to learn another language at this age, but I am approaching it with new vigor.  Alan, on the other hand, has no patience for it.  He believes that when he gets to Italy and immerses himself in life there, he will learn eventually.  You should see him conversing with Italians in his made-up Italiano.  It is pure Alan.  Somehow they know what he is saying all the time with his abundant gestures and many hugs and kisses.

What we both do know, however, is that the Italian way of life is totally compatible with our way of thinking.  We love the style, the slower pace of life, and the FOOD! We believe that we can be happy there and that we can meld into Italian life.  And, of course, with my daughter spending time there as well, it makes it all the more compelling.

Our papers finally came through and we officially became Italian citizens.  After a trip to Miami to the Italian Consulate, we then had our Italian passports in hand.  We embarked on our second trip to Italy in July of 2012. We stayed with Leigh in her Ostuni apartment and had an absolutely fabulous time reaffirming our desire to spend more time there.

Both of our trips were incredible experiences.  We loved every second.  We drove over 3600 kilometers through the regions we visited on the first trip and felt very at home wherever we were.  Since we had rented an apartment, we lived as Italians and not as tourists.  I still would like Alan to see other parts of Italy and see some of the major sights of the country, but he doesn’t feel so inclined.  He feels very comfortable with what he has already experienced and we both essentially feel at home in the region of our ancestors.  We love our heritage and we are certain that our parents and grandparents appreciate that it all has become an important aspect of our life together.

The opportunity to wax more eloquently about Italy and our relationship to it will be the subject of another book.

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My Book

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.

INTRODUCTION

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.

Martha’s Vineyard

October 2011

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Hello world!

Hello.  This blog is about reuniting with lost love.  But it is also about reuniting in general–with family and friends, etc.  Our story is fascinating and we want to share it with the world.  I have written a book about it all and I will begin sharing it here on this blog.

The concept of reuniting is what started it all and why I decided to write a memoir about our very inspiring experience.  We met initially in 1956 on the first day of 7th grade at Gorton High School in Yonkers, NY.  We were friends throughout our high school years, but we became sweethearts in our senior year and we ‘went steady’.  However, I broke off with Alan after we both went off to college–actually during the Christmas vacation of our freshman year.  I just felt that I wanted to experience more, but I never dreamed of how much I had hurt Alan or how much it would change his life.  He left school (couldn’t cope) and eventually joined the Navy.  He began building submarines and found himself remaining in the Navy for almost 24 years.  He married twice during those years (two rather bad marriages), became a father, and was never really happy.  I, on the other hand, didn’t marry until I was 29 years old, had two children, but then divorced after 27 years of marriage.  Fast forward then to 2009 when Alan had become widowed and I had been divorced for ten years.  Alan’s daughter-in-law put him onto FaceBook and he found me!  After much communication via email and phone, a new relationship blossomed quickly.  We were engaged within three months and married almost a year after the first email.  We are very happy and the story is a very interesting one.

I will tell lots more on this blog and look forward to my book being published.

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