Tag Archives: Marriage

Sun shines & Earth (literally) moves around Big Sur wedding

Chilly, misty fog enveloped the Big Sur. Not the weather Katie Connor and Gregg Nelson had hoped for on their big day this past August. About 100 friends and family were on their way to the Carmel Mission Basilica in Carmel, CA. The couple had arranged for mini coaches so guests could enjoy majestic views and whale watching.

“The Night Before I Do Bar-B-Que” was cool and overcast. The next morning, Mother Nature’s mood had not improved. Katie says, “I knew there was a chance for fog. On the drive to the ceremony, I told myself the fog has its own beauty and romance. But it was not what i’d hoped for.”

Guests included Katie’s girlfriends from childhood in Grosse Pointe, MI, and from Wellesley College and Gregg’s from New Jersey and Rutgers. They came to the Big Sur from all over—Boston, New York, London, Hong Kong. Katie’s mom had argued for Napa so guests could spend free time golfing or wine tasting. But Katie held firm.

The wedding was called for 1 pm. About 2 minutes before the bride and bridesmaids’ mini coach reached the basilica, the clouds cleared. The sun broke through.

Katie glanced at Marilyn and said, “It’s Grandma.” On the drive back, the sun shone.

Our good friends, Marilyn, a retired exec with Neiman Marcus, and Michael, a retired Michigan Court of Appeals judge, had two sons in the 1970s. They were delighted when their third was a girl. Katie was born two weeks early, on grandmother Alvina’s birthday.

(Fashion detail: Though unable to make the wedding, Burton and I did make it to Katie’s christening in the backyard of the Connor home, overlooking the Detroit Golf Club. I remember baby Katie’s charming embroidered white organza dress. Alvina made it from Marilyn’s graduation gown, worn on graduating from Holy Family Academy in Chicago, a Polish girls school from which Alvina also graduated.)

When Katie was little, Marilyn often told her a story:

When Alvina got to heaven, God said, “You lived such a good life taking care of your invalid husband. What can I do for you?” Alvina asked God to send his dearest angel to her daughter. God said, “But this is heaven’s favorite and sweetest angel.” Still, on Alvina’s birthday, God granted her wish. On that day in Detroit, major storms struck. Marilyn explained, “The other angels were crying because their favorite angel was leaving them and going to earth.”

Katie, who inherited her mom’s musical and theatrical talent, grew up to be a talented singer/songwriter. She performs as Kat Solar. Gregg is a chief operating officer in Europe for Macquarie, an Australian investment bank. They met in New York, Katie says, “when friends dragged us out on a night we both planned to stay home. Gregg was tall like my dad with an old world charm that reminded me of Humphrey Bogart.” (Gregg is 6’7′; Katie, 5’6″.)

Back to the wedding: Dinner at Ventana Inn overlooked the Pacific on what Katie calls “a flawless night.” Three hours after midnight, some guests were still dancing; the rest, asleep. None felt the geologic event that took place 100 miles away. Northern California was struck by the biggest earthquake to hit the region in 25 years. A magnitude-6.0 tremor shook the Napa Valley, triggering fires and power outages and tumbling chunks of buildings.

How’s that for a wedding night? Talk about the earth moving.

Katie didn’t remind her mom that she’d lobbied for Napa.

(Any Godsigns stories in your romantic life? I’d love to hear them.)

Author’s Father Returns in Song She Sought for Years

Writing a biography presents challenges for any author. Details elude. Disappointed by her inability to find the lyrics to a song that was central to her parents’ story, Carol Jean Delmar published her book without them.

LA-based Carol Jean’s biography of her Holocaust survivor parents, Franz Jung and Franziska Perger, is moving and well-researched. Serenade: A Memoir of Music and Love is based on her father’s audiotapes and on Carol Jean’s travel to places her parents lived or visited. Franz was an opera singer whose extraordinary bass-baritone voice disappeared. He then rose to head the costume department at CBS. He supervised costumes for blockbuster films like Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments and TV shows including The Untouchables.

The book has received lots of praise, including an inspiring note from E. Randol Schoenberg, the grandson of composers Arnold Schoenberg and Eric Zeisl and president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. He wrote that Carol Jean’s memoir was, “Gripping and beautiful … the musical culture that was a part of their being, the terror of having it all ripped away by the Nazis, is of course very familiar to me, and yet, as always, uniquely compelling to read.”

Still, there was that lingering question of … that one song.

En route to Cuba, where Franz and Franziska lived while awaiting US visas, Franz sang at the Cine General Salom in Venezuela. Included in that concert was a love song Carol Jean thought was called, Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Sweetheart. She scoured music stores and bought sheet music; none represented the song in her head. She regretted being unable to track the song down.

This December, ten years after her beloved father died, Carol Jean felt especially lonely. Flipping through TV stations, she stopped on a PBS classical music station. The first video played was the song she’d sought, actually titled Will You Remember from Sigmund Romberg’s Maytime.

“Suddenly there it was,” Carol Jean says. “George London was singing it for the old Firestone Hour. I got the composer’s name, went to YouTube and found it. It was a sign. My father knew I was sad and lonely this past holiday season. I believe he was there somehow, sitting in my kitchen where he always sat for dinner, letting me know he was watching over me.”

In a clip she found from a 1937 movie, Maytime, Nelson Eddy sings the song to Jeanette MacDonald when she’s a young woman. Later, Eddy comes back as an old man—in MacDonald’s mind’s eye.

“That’s when It got eerie,” Carol Jean says. “In the book, my parents serenade each other with music, letters and poetry. I serenade them with my book. Now, suddenly my father was back, serenading me in a different way. He was telling me I’m not alone. My family is with me and everything will be all right.”

Days later, Carol Jean felt blue again. Lying in bed, she clicked on the Turner Movie Channel—and, what was playing?


She’d never seen the old film. At the end, the older couple watches a young couple walk away. “My heart started thumping,” she says. “It felt like my parents were happy together, looking over me, but telling me something I needed to hear. To go and live my life.”

By the way, in the refrain of Will You Remember, one line goes: “I love you in life’s gray December.”

Remember when Carol first heard the song? Go figure.

(Godsigns appear through all our senses.  Please send me yours.)

In Second Marriage, Love Blossoms Again


Anne nursed husband Bob through five tough years with cancer.  Before he died, he said, “You will meet someone with even more in common.  My best legacy will be for you to enjoy a happy second marriage.”

Fourteen months after Bob died, his prophecy had not come true.  Then, at a neighborhood holiday party in Santa Barbara, CA, Anne ran into a local builder.  He was renovating the elegant nearby San Ysidro Ranch and offered her a free night in the hotel. She decided to spend Christmas Eve there.

A week later at a different party, Anne spotted Michael across the room.  A casual acquaintance and local philanthropist, Michael was several years older.  Still Anne says, “I felt an invisible hand on my shoulder pushing me toward him.”  This old-fashioned, 60-something widow found herself asking Michael what he was doing Christmas Eve.  “Not much,” he said.  She invited him to dinner.

She reported the invitation to me, her big sister.  I shrieked, “You invited him to a hotel? What will he think?”

“I don’t know how I had the nerve to ask Mike out, especially to a hotel,” Anne says.  “I had never done anything like that before.  I think I was propelled by Bobby.”

Michael arrived at Anne’s cottage bearing a bottle of champagne and a large bouquet of roses.  They dined and talked in front of a glowing fire and danced to the one CD in the cottage.   At 11pm, Michael “gave me a lovely kiss and was out the door, the perfect gentleman.”

The next morning, Anne gathered up the roses.  In the firelight, they had looked pink.  In daylight, she realized they were apricot.  Apricot was the color of the roses she carried in her wedding to Bob over 32 years ago.  Bob had continued to present them every year for their anniversary.  Just before he died, he’d paid the florist in advance to deliver apricot roses to Anne once a month for the next year.  As if the flowers weren’t enough of a Godsign, Anne realized something else.  The CD to which she’d danced with Michael was by Tony Bennett—Anne and Bob’s favorite singer.

Later that morning, Anne returned home.  Michael had dropped off a bag of seedless tangerines.  The note read, “These are from my tree.  They are sweet but not as sweet as you.”  Seedless tangerines were Bob’s favorite fruit.  And the bag Michael put them in was a Hallmark-type bag with a photo of Venice, Italy.  Venice was Bob’s favorite city and the last big trip Anne and Bob took together.

Putting her apricot roses into a vase, Anne walked upstairs and placed her hand on an antique silver box holding some of Bob’s ashes. She asked: Is this the man you want for me?  She says she felt “a warm current run up and down my spine.”

Anne and Mike have been married for seven years.  Friends often call their marriage a match made in heaven. 

Anne says, “I couldn’t agree more.”