Luke and J9: The Beginning

I watched him step out of his red and black Toyota 4 Runner. A tall, dark, and handsome man in a long black coat walked into TGI Fridays. My sidekick, Lisa, nodded her approval, and so I limped toward the entrance to meet my blind date.


Two days earlier.

I finished my evening shift waiting table at Grandma’s Pie Shop on Central Avenue. My plan was to head over to my blind date’s townhouse for a party he and his roommate were having. I had yet to meet him, so this seemed the perfect opportunity. I still lived at home with my younger sister, Michele, and my parents. At age 22, I was in that in between stage of teen and adult.

The weather turned ugly, so my father insisted on picking me up to drive the 45 minutes home. My chance to meet my blind date was thwarted by a wintry blizzard. We talked briefly and planned to meet for lunch. Two more days dragged by as I imagined what he looked like. I had enjoyed getting to know him on the phone and was excited about the possibilities.

The next morning, in typical De Tillio fashion, I broke my toe, cracked my shinbone, and ended up on crutches. I’ll spare you the gory details of how that occurred! I called my blind date. He despaired, fearing that I would once again cancel.

I explained that I would be on crutches and wearing a brown bomber jacket. Easy enough to spot. Lisa and I arrived early and watched for him in the parking lot. After I saw him walk into the restaurant, I decided to leave my crutches in the car. I needed to make some type of impression.

I opened the door and there he stood, leaning against the wall waiting for me. He was ‘the one’ with his Sam Elliott mustache, chocolate eyes, and nonchalant stance. I knew I would marry him.


We talked about soccer, motorcycles, family, and food. We had so much in common, and I couldn’t wait to see him again. As he followed me out of the restaurant, he said, “Nice limp.” His dry sense of humor has carried us through many of my klutzy escapades!

Riding the streets of Maine. We always wear protective gear now!

Our love was a whirlwind of adventures and dreams of our lives together. We married three years later.


I found my soulmate and best friend on this day 30 years ago. We have had so much joy as well as tremendous sorrow, but we have always stood side by side holding one another up.

Dancing in the Woods, 2018

Luke was warned I’d be trouble. He took a chance anyway. He’s known as the fix it guy, but I think we’ve lasted, because he has always let me be me. What more could a gal limping into TGI Friday’s ask for!

Valentine’s Day


Luke and I met on December 22, 1988 on a blind date.  A friend that he went to karate class with knew me from high school and thought we would make a great match. We tried a couple times to get together, but weather thwarted our plans. Finally we were set to meet at TGI Fridays in Stuyvesant Plaza. The day before I fell up my stairs (anyone surprised?) and ended up on crutches.

He thought I was going to cancel, but I explained that he would recognize me better by the fact that I was limping. My friend, Lisa, and I got to the restaurant early and waited for him to arrive. Luke drove up in a red Toyota 4 Runner. He wore a long coat over a suit. So far so good.

My hair was curly and shoulder length at that time, and I wore a dark brown bomber jacket, casual top and jeans. I refused to use my crutches so it took a while to walk across the parking lot. It was worth it. When I opened the door, I saw Luke leaning against the wall. He had thick dark hair and a Maverick mustache. I fell immediately (in love that is!) and knew I would marry this man.

We had so much in common, and Luke’s dry sense of humor is one of the reasons I still love him. On our way out, he said, “Nice limp.” Ha! He didn’t know that he would spend a lifetime with a family of accident prone relatives and that it was contagious.

On our first Valentine’s Day, Luke gave me a little teddy bear that had a gold bracelet around his neck. It was such a romantic gesture. We were married two years later.  Through our 28 years together, he continues to surprise me.

Somewhere along the way he created this tradition of giving me Twizzlers on any holiday. Better than flowers that made me sneeze! I’ll write about Twizzlers a different day!

What does today mean to you? It may be just another day or you may want to write about the love of your life.