Today is Valentines day and it is a day to celebrate my love for my wife and son, my mom and dad who are now together in heaven, my sisters and their families and all who are near and dear to me. I look upon my life and feel happy I have my wife and son to share my life with. We all need each other and we feel comforted and loved and we know we can face each day and realize we are not alone. I am grateful for this each and every day and know that we share our love for eternity. When we took our vows in marriage we promised we would love and honor each other til death do us part. I am very loyal and devoted to both my wife and son and am so proud. I feel like the late great New York Yankee baseball player and hero Lou Gehrig whose life was cut short way to soon tragically when he moved the entire crowd at Yankee Stadium with his famous words “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” I am very lucky and I am grateful every day. Every time I watch The pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper and Theresa Wright and I see that speech I well up with tears and I get all choked up. That movie is by far my most favorite.
As I started to grow and experience life I started to realize something special about the girls I met. I was a very shy kid but I knew that girls made me feel special and I tried my hardest to open up and talk with them. I have so many funny stories to relate about crushes I had that I did share with my wife and we laughed about those moments. I was an innocent kid and I just felt in awe in the presence of a pretty girl. I noticed whenever I was struck by a girl and her beauty I would go into “try to impress the pretty girl” mode and do all I could to attract her attention. I was just a shy kid with not much self confidence so I really had difficult times keeping my own with them. I remember having many conversations with my mom about girls I liked and asked for her advice on how to relate and win their friendship. It was not that easy for me and I made mistakes along the way but I was very respectful at all times though I didn’t seem to talk all that much.
I remember having my first crush on a girl in my kindergarten class and I just thought the world of this girl as she spoke with a British accent and her name rolled off my tongue so many times and I would say her name over and over to my mom. I would say to my mom what a sweet girl Diane Coffee is and I just felt nice when she said hello to me. She was definitely the very first girl I had feelings for even if I didn’t quite understand why. I don’t ever remember going through the phase of hating girls. I seemed to like the girls from an early age and always thought they were so cute and so much sweeter.
When I was in the first grade in Catholic school in Brooklyn, New York where I attended St Theresa of Lisieux “Little Flower” I had been blindsided by a cute German girl by the name Karen Wilhought. She and I sat next to each other and I remember one day in the class I was too shy to raise my hand to go to the bathroom and Karen could tell I was uncomfortable and that I had to go so she encouraged me to tell Sister Mary Rita that I have to use the bathroom. She kept hitting me until I finally raised my hand. If it wasn’t for her I would have been very embarrassed. I fell in love with her from that moment on. I had quite a few experiences centering around Karen. Another moment I will never forget back in the first grade was when I was talking with Karen as she sat right next to me. The problem was that I was talking to her during Sister Mary Rita’s lesson. As I was talking I heard Sister Mary Rita ask who was talking as she was giving her lesson and she started walking to the chalkboard and took a yard stick and headed in my direction and I remember this as clear as if it happened yesterday. She said to me “Young man, there will be no talking in my classroom when I am giving a lesson!” and she took that yardstick and swung it in my direction and hit me over the head with it. I was quite embarrassed and as a result of that I never talked again in class and I became very shy talking with the girls.
One other moment I remember as if it happened yesterday was when I wrote a little love note to Karen but did not sign it. I left it on her chair and put a dollar in the envelope with the note. I was really in love with Karen in my mind even though I was only 7 years old. I thought she was the cutest girl. One thing I have to say about Karen was that she was very nice to me and I was able to open up to her and talk with her. She certainly made me feel good and I just thought she was so cute. We were friends and we shared classes together for a few years. I never saw or heard from her after moving to Long Island with my family back in 1972. I certainly would love to say hi again to her and tell her these amusing stories and ask her if she knew how much I really liked her.
When we moved to Long Island I had to get used to a new neighborhood and a new school where I was starting the sixth grade. I also had to meet new friends. I was very attentive to my studies and was still very shy. I went to public school and remember the first girl I had a crush on. Her name was Lori Lichtenthal and I thought she was so cute and she dressed so pretty. The funny thing about having a crush on her was that her father was our family dentist. I never really got to talk with Lori so my love for her was really from a distance and without her knowledge. There were other girls I had crushes on in junior high school and high school but nothing that really stands out because I was a shy kid and didn’t talk all that much. I made good friends throughout school but they were all guys. It seemed harder to become friends with girls as we got older because the girls to me seemed more intimidating because of their beauty and their maturity. In addition I was quite naive and knew that I felt awkward with establishing relationships even though I wanted to.
My first real date in high school was with Lori Hearn who I liked and felt comfortable with. She and I were only friends but it was nice taking her out places. I remember our first date was at Adventure land in Farmingdale and it was a fun time. I went out with her for about 4 months. It was a good learning experience. Another girl I had a crush on back in high school was Rachel Fishman. She was very cute and I tried to reach out to her from a friend and neighbor, Tracy Kravitz. Tracy was always nice and I remember her and her 2 brothers were our very first friends in the neighborhood as they came to our house to introduce themselves. I remember that too as if it was yesterday. Tracy did try to introduce me to Rachel but I was very shy and never did get to talk with Rachel. Many years later I did get to tell Rachel about my crush and we had a good laugh about it.
Last August was my high school’s 30th year reunion and I met girls there that I really didn’t talk to during our high school days but felt privileged to finally get to talk with and share a little bit about our lives with that night in August of 2009. The 2 girls that I really enjoyed talking with that night were Janet Rose Shenkel and Beth Karras. They were nice to catch up with and they made me feel special. I was talking with them both on facebook and they both helped me get through a difficult time after losing my dad.
Another girl who I remember fondly was Natalie Schwartz who invited me to her sweet 16 back in high school. She was fun to see again at the reunion. Another girl who I had a crush on and who I thought was a tremendous competitor was Barbara Davis. I was so delighted to see her at the reunion and we also got to talk awhile and it was great to catch up with her as well.
When I was in college at Nassau Community I was very dedicated to my studies as I was studying engineering and I took my first 2 years of calculus and physics. I remember a girl in my calculus class who was very nice to me and we developed a nice friendship. I was telling her about a school I was thinking of attending after Nassau located in Blacksburg, Virginia. It was where my Uncle Tim went for his engineering degree and my mom was so proud of his accomplishment and suggested I go there too. The school was Virginia Tech and the girl in my class, Patty O’ Connor had given me the college catalog for the school and I was very grateful. After we graduated Nassau Community College I did stay in touch with Patty for awhile and I enjoyed visiting her on occasion in the summertime where she worked as a lifeguard. We had a nice friendship and we wrote each other during our college days. After graduating college with our Bachelor’s degrees we stayed in touch with exchanging Christmas cards for several years. The thing I remember fondly about Patty was the perfume scented letters she sent me when I was away at school at Virginia Tech. Those letters were great and they were always something to look forward to.
After college I started working and didn’t really get to date all that much as I was concerned with my job and advancing in my career. I also was still shy and had a difficult time in meeting people. For many years I went on vacations with a college friend I met when I attended Hofstra University. His name is Jeff and we are still the best of friends today. One vacation I went on alone and met many people was a vacation I took to Great Britain with a youth touring group, Contiki Tours. It was a lot of fun and I met so many nice people. I met lots of girls too and I really enjoyed their company. The girls were from all over. Some from Germany, others from Australia and others from Asia. I also met a girl named Julie Schumacher from Buffalo Grove Illinois, just outside of Chicago. She was very nice to me and we wrote letters to each other for several years and also exchanged Christmas cards.
When I was marrying my wife Maria, the light of my life I invited Julie to the wedding and was surprised that she came. She made our day and we were so happy to see her. I met so many nice girls in my life and have become a better person for it. I have managed well despite my shyness and find that the girls are very caring and kind and they make us guys better and more aware of things.
The girl I met that means the most to me obviously is my wife Maria and I was fortunate to meet her as we are happily married and we have a son who is the pride and joy of our lives. So as it is Valentines day I am always reminded how lucky I am to have Maria and Matthew in my life and I am also very lucky to have met so many nice girls in my life that helped me grow, mature and become a better person.
Happy Valentines Day to Maria and Matthew, the two most important people in my life. I also extend my best wishes to all the girls I met through the years.
Edward D. Iannielli III