|Joe and Dennis in front of the spot they chose|
to exchange vows on their 50th anniversary
Walking past Town Hall I noticed two gentlemen sitting on the bench, wearing hats with an inscription reading "50 years." I stopped and inquired, and, indeed, they had been together for fifty years. I sat and talked with Dennis and Joe, who met in a movie theater in 1962 when Dennis was 22 years old, and Joe was just 18. Each felt like they had really hit it off, and they made plans to spend the next day together.
The following day, as Dennis grew tired of waiting for Joe to show up, he called the phone number he'd been given and Joe's mother told him that Joe had gone out to help a friend and wasn't expected back anytime soon. Naturally, Dennis was irritated and a bit hurt, and decided to go out himself. As he was getting ready there was a knock at the door and there stood Joe, who had made up a story to tell his mother so he could get out of the house. The two spent the entire day together, and that was it for both of them. They became fast companions, and they moved in together on the day Joe turned 21.
On their hats, Dennis and Joe each have a photograph of themselves taken in the first year they were together. Back then, all their friends were saying their relationship had no chance because they were too young to know what they wanted, and would inevitably break up when one of them met someone else. As you might guess, as these two watched the relationships of their friends crumbling over the years, Dennis and Joe clung together, and their relationship deepened over time as they faced life's challenges and tragedies together, along with the joy of each having the other for a lifetime of love and support. In the pocket of his shirt, Dennis carries a couple of photographs taken in their early days together.
|Each of their hats displays this photo from their first year together|
After many years as a couple, a friend brought Dennis and Joe to Provincetown on a brief vacation, and they have been visiting frequently ever since. They returned this spring, and on May 30th they stood in front of Town Hall, at the Rose Dorothea plaque pictured above, to exchange vows, along with the new rings they had bought to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Each ring has five diamonds, each one celebrating a decade of their lives together. As a lesbian minister happened to walk by, she sensed something important going on, and stopped to talk for a moment. She then asked if she could say a few words, blessing their rings and officiating as they exchanged vows each had written for the occasion. Dennis, the more easy-going counterpart to Joe's more stoic personality, told me that he became misty-eyed that day as he heard Joe say things he'd never before expressed in all the years that they had spent together.
The two have been considering having an actual wedding, checking with their lawyer on how that might affect provisions already long in place in their wills and in several other arrangements made many years ago, before the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would legally recognize such a marriage. If they do decide to tie the knot, they will ask this same minister to perform the ceremony. Dennis told me that the old adage about never going to bed angry has been one of the secrets to keeping their relationship intact over the years, each at some time allowing the other to think
he had been right when a disagreement arose, giving the relationship priority over petty grievances.
Longtime employees of the Bank of Boston, one for 18 years and the other for 35 years, both are now retired, and they return to Provincetown about three times a year. They always stay at the Breakwater Motel, in the same room every time, and as they check out today the staff will reserve their room for next year's visits. We take inspiration from Dennis and Joe, and wish them many happy returns.
Update: About a year after this original article was written, Dennis and Joe made the decision to actually get married. The ceremony took place a few months later, at Christmastime, in their own city hall. Massachusetts proudly claims the title of first state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriages.
|Joe and Dennis were married December 12th, 2012.|
TWO OF THE MOST WONDERFUL GUYS WE HAVE EVER MET. WE HAD TO GO ALL THE WAY TO P-TOWN TO FIND THEM AND NOW WE ARE NEVER GOING TO LET GO!!ReplyDelete
KIND, FUN, CARING, LOVING, WITH NO DRAMA AT ALL!! THEY ARE AN INSPIRATION TO YOUNGER GAYS WHO BELIEVED WHAT THEIR FOOLISH PARENTS SAID ABOUT GAYS...( THOSE RELATIONSHIPS NEVER LAST! ) AS WELL AS STRAIGHT COUPLES WHO THOUGHT THEY HAD A MONOPOLY ON MARRIAGE. IT WAS AN HONOR TO MEET SUCH A WONDERFUL COUPLE WHO HAVE GIVEN 50 YEARS OF HAPPINESS TO ONE ANOTHER. BLESS YOU BOTH.....LOVE, DENNIS AND RICHARD
Thanks for reading my blog, and thanks for your comment. I ran into Dennis and Joe a couple of times more during their visit, and got to know them a bit. What a pleasure! They are two wonderful men, and I hope to see them on their next visit, and to know then for a long, long time. Their story really is an inspiration for us all, gay or straight. Love CAN triumph.Delete