When Hilda Met Jeffrey

4 07 2013

It was the last day of my vacation. It began with me being a bridesmaid in my friend Louise Rizzuto (Lee)’s wedding. After that was over, I traveled to visit my sister in Toms River, NJ, then out to northwestern New Jersey to visit my Aunt Emily and Uncle Don, and then out to Long Island to visit friends and family. I was staying at Carolyn Leitgeb’s house (who was now Carolyn Mulderig) in Patchogue. She wanted to take me out to Montauk Point on Long Island to spend the day. When I returned, I needed to go say hello to my foster father and my foster brother Jody. My friend Patty convinced me to go out with her again that evening despite the thousands of miles I had traveled and despite the fact I had averaged about 3 hours of sleep a night during my entire vacation. July 5th my plane was leaving to return me to Houston. Carolyn made strawberry shortcake from scratch and I felt obligated to stay and eat some of that. It was getting really late. My foster brother, Jody, decided to steal my keys. I was chasing him around the yard trying to retrieve them. He eventually gave them to me. Then I picked up Patty, she said she wanted me to meet her boyfriend’s best friend. Patty and I knew each other from Davis Park. Her family would dock their boat next to or very near to our boat where we used to stay the entire summer. I did not want to go out. Patty, however, would not take “no” for an answer.

We were to meet her boyfriend, Larry, and his best friend, Jeff at Mario’s in Setauket. I later found out that we were so late that Jeff was about to leave. They gave us a little longer to get there. When I met him I was very surprised how easy conversation was with him. He seemed very intelligent. Mario’s was closing up and we wanted to continue our conversation. I mentioned that we never got over to Davis Park and I would love to go sit on a beach and listen to the water for a bit. Out at Montauk we were visiting places but the beach was not one of them. He said he knew a place. Patty went with Larry and I followed Jeff to this place on the Long Island Sound.

We sat on the beach. There were others, too, at the beach. In the distance on the water we saw a boat with a headlight just wobbling. This guys runs practically over us screaming, “Hey you guys! It’s the cops, get out of here.” All I could think of is “I cannot go to jail–I have to go home to Houston tomorrow!”  Apparently Jeff took me to a beach that was known for its drug dealers.

I got up and ran. Jeff grabbed my purse which I left behind–the purse with the airline ticket in it–and ran with me. We ran across the parking lot and to our respective cars. But this police car was speeding toward us and I told Jeff we have to stop. Bumbling words came out of my mouth. I told him I was SO sorry. I did not know we were not allowed on the beach. I was from out of town and just wanted to see the water before I left the next day (which was 100% truth). What helped was 1) I had not been drinking; 2) the plates on my car said New Jersey because I flew into Newark. He eventually believed my story and let us go without any tickets (or going to jail). Jeff said he knew some other place we could go continue our conversation. There was a pond near the post office and we could go back there. The police officer followed us the entire time until we pulled up to a house across the street from the post office. As we were walking to this “spot” I got a little panicked that it was very isolated. I did not trust him THAT much so I asked if there was some place else we could go. There was a grassy area in what was like a town square center that had this rock which I sat on and our conversation continued. As the sun was coming up, I realized I needed to get back to Patchogue to pack and get to Newark for my flight.

At the airport I talked to Patty on the pay phone. Larry in the meantime told Jeff that he should send me flowers as soon as I returned home. I honestly thought that evening would be the end of things as so many dates I had in the past. We began talking every night on the phone for several hours. He decided he wanted to come down and visit me and 2-3 weeks later he did. By January of 1991 he moved down here into his own apartment. In July of 1991 he proposed to me; we announced this to his family after his cousin’s wedding in Ohio in August of 1991. Jeff wanted me to meet them before we actually told them. We set the date to get married as October 24, 1992.

Happy Anniversary, Jeff! The Fourth of July may be the day where everyone is celebrating our declared independence from England, the birth of a new nation, but for us, it was the day we both lost some of independence, to become dependent on each other. It gave birth to a lifelong commitment to one another.


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