You make me crazy, you love me unconditionally, and you have sacrificed so much in your life for myself and my brother, Philip. You have endured the death of two husbands, the loss of a child, and watched me struggle for my life on multiple occasions. You also were our biggest boosters, came to our defense, taught me not to let my physical shortcomings (my partial blindness, and partial deafness) be an impediment to achieve anything I wanted to. You accepted the women I have loved in my life irrespective of what religion they practiced.

You taught both of us how to appreciate music, even if we didn’t quite appreciate it when we were very young. You took me to your singing lessons as a young boy. You encouraged our artistic pursuits as we got older, Philip with music, me with acting.

You have become a doting grandmother, and yes, if you look up the definition of a Jewish mother in the dictionary, your picture is probably there.

Recently, you have taught me the meaning of courage, having broken your leg, enduring surgery, learning to walk again, and pushing through the pain that accompanied it. It mirrored my own struggles with my illness and transplant, and recovery, as I needed to learn to walk again. If I inherited anything from you, it was perseverance in the face of the odds. You came to see me in the hospital in Rochester, twice, walker and all, and all of your 83 years.

We love you very, very much…even if you do drive us crazy from time-to-time.

A valentine….

What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.” – author unknown

I’m very lucky.

Six years ago, I made a major life decision that was needed, but wound up causing immense pain to the woman I was married to for 21 years. Our relationship had been deteriorating for some time, and we both knew it. One of us had to do something, as we were both suffering. That task fell to me, and I made the decision to leave the marriage, initially separating, but later on she initiated the divorce. I guess it was her way of maintaining some control over things.

Shortly before the divorce went through, I became reconnected with a college friend that I had not seen in a few years. Patti and I met my first night in the dorms at the University at Buffalo back in 1981. We became friends quickly, hanging around with the same crew of people on the floor. Now, when I say friends, I mean just that. Friends. Not “friends with benefits,” just friends.

After my graduation in 1985 (Patti graduated the year beforehand), we stayed in touch, and she even attended my wedding in 1989. We lost touch for a long period of time, and as I found out many years later, was living in NYC for three years, working as a speech language pathologist in a school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We would reconnect after my move to Rochester in 1999, but again, lost touch.

Flash forward to 2010: A mutual friend gets in touch with me, and I asked her if Patti was still living in Syracuse. She was, and said friend gave me her contact information. I gave her a call, and we began talking. That’s how it began, small talk that grew into my bouncing opinions off of her. It turns out she had been through something similar with her ex-partner some years prior. Patti can be brutally honest, which is what I needed at the time. I was wracked with guilt over the separation, Having a woman’s point of view helped to clarify ertain feelings I was having, in addition to the help from an excellent therapist.

I drove out to Syracuse from Rochester to have lunch with her one day, and discovered that our lives had taken somewhat parallel courses. She taught in one of the toughest areas of NYC, and now was teaching in the toughest area of the Syracuse school district. She dealt with some of the same things that I dealt with while working as a paramedic in Brooklyn. We reminisced, and something just clicked.

I found myself running out to Syracuse more often for lunch with her. Then just before my divorce was finalized, our friendship took a turn to something more. We’ve been together ever since, something I hardly expected. The last thing I was looking for was another relationship so soon. It found me instead, and throughout all the turmoil of my illness, I could not have wished for a better person to go through my life with.

She has endured my illness, which was a hellish time as she never had to deal with something like this before. Now, she helps me through my post transplant rehabilitation, and we look forward to the day when I’m completely independent again. I could not have made it through the recurrence of my illness and transplant without her. Yes, she is a caregiver, in the traditional sense of the word, but she’s more than that.

I love her with all my heart.