Starting at the beginning is a very good place to begin most stories. I'm going to tell it as best as I can remember it. I heard it from my parents probably hundreds of times and never tired of hearing it. I'll do my best to remember the times, dates, names but all in all I hope the you will enjoy this unique love story!
The year was 1964. The season, late fall which is always a colorful, beautiful season of change in New York.
My mom, Rose Marie Gaines was from Huntington Station, N.Y.
My dad Jim Gaines (J.A. Gaines or Jimmie Gaines) was from Talladega, Alabama.
Though they had both been in a couple of serious dating relationships they had not yet found their life love and because they were getting a little older at 29 and 34 they were hoping, dreaming and praying for that special person that they believe God had prepared for them to make their appearance, cross their path and share their life for life. Mom used to say she prayed over the empty pillow on the bed next to her every night and asked God to fill it with a special man that would share her heart for service to Him and others.
She would sometimes chuckle when she shared the story and she would say, “I felt like when he finally arrived I’d give him a good punch in the nose for taking so long. Heh, heh. No, it was all in God’s time and I just had to be a little bit patient.”
Dad was preaching in N.Y.C. where he had felt a call to come in 1964 and mom went in with her sister and brother-in-law to hear him speak. She didn’t meet him that night but spoke with a twinkle in her eye about seeing and hearing that wonderful southern evangelist that night.
A few weeks passed and it was February 1965. There was a party in Queens hosted by a friend of my mom. Unbeknownst to mom, dad was renting an apartment from this friend because it was a close to the subway to Manhattan where he would go to preach several times a week.
Well, Mom was running a little bit late and when she arrived the hostess was busy taking a lasagna out of the oven. The doorbell rang. “Jim, would you please get the door for me?” the friend asked. “Yes.” he said and quickly made his way to open the front door. When he would tell the story at this point his eyes would sparkle as he would say, “When I answered that door before me stood an angel. I think that at that moment, I knew something and she did too.” Mom would say the same thing. It was love at first sight. So sweet!!
The story goes on about their conversation through the evening. Mom made a point to find out that this debonair, complete southern gentleman was in fact single, he was in fact a minister and he would in fact like to have dinner with her. She was a bit shy and instead of going out to dinner with him she wanted him to come to dinner, at her mother’s house where she lived.
She would make him a wonderful meal and asked what his favorite dessert was so she could prepare it. “Lemon meringue pie.” he said. When the night came she had prepared (with Grandma Meringola’s help I’m sure) an Italian feast for that debonair, thin, complete southern gentleman to enjoy. He swears it was the best Italian food he'd ever eaten and the first and last lemon meringue pie she ever made for him. When he would say that she would say, “Oh, Jim.” With her little chuckle.
If you knew my mom you know exactly what I mean by that. She had a soft little “heh-heh-heh” that came from her throat with a winsome smile that gleamed when she was jesting or a little twinkle when she was even a bit annoyed with something. It was signature to mom and something that I just loved about her. Boy, do I miss that sweet chuckle!
Kim (Gaines) Gambino serves as the President/Pastor of the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Huntington Station.