My wife, my life

“My best friend, my life partner” ~ inscription inside our wedding bands

Joe Hage, Beth Hage

On our wedding day in 1998

I got very lucky when I found my wife Beth. We met in 1995 at a birthday party she crashed. Victor Carlson, the guy on the other side of the cubicle wall told me earlier that day, “Dude, I’m bringing this girl to Thano Chaltas’ party. She just broke up with her boyfriend.”

I knew she was the one after she surprised me on my 30th

I knew she was the one after she surprised me for my 30th

I asked her out at the party. Our first date was the next day. We took the New York tram from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. It was one of the first dates I hadn’t choreographed: I’d never been there before, I didn’t know what to expect. We walked to the end of the island and, because I hate backtracking, cut through what I think was a hospital to get to the other side. “Just follow me and act like you’re supposed to be there,” I asked this girl I had met the day before.

Been together ever since.

Two weeks ago Beth asked me to lift my head from the computer screen. “Joey,” she said, “I want your full attention. We should talk.” She told me, “There’s something going on. I can’t put my finger on it but you’ve been a bit self-centered lately. It comes in waves and you’re entering one of them.”

In Cape Town, making me laugh

Funny in Cape Town (click any photo to enlarge)

She was right. I had become less receptive to other people’s needs, more focused on my own. This pattern comes in “Joey cycles,” as she calls it. We talked about ways I’ve come out of past cycles and she asked me to take those steps.

Without a second thought I said yes. I said to Beth yesterday, “I know better than to tell you no because you are always right.”

Funniest thing she ever said

We weren’t dating two months when I took her to a party in Long Island thrown by a friend from Wharton. Everybody there, it seemed had an MBA. I don’t know what conversations I got into but apparently they weren’t typical conversations for Beth.

At our first JazzFest in New Orleans

At our first JazzFest in New Orleans

When we got in the car she let me know how she felt relative to the ‘impressive people’ she met at the party.

“I feel like the winner of a pie-eating contest.”

Still makes me laugh.

The first time I sent roses to her office she laughed and laughed. The card, which I dictated over the phone to the florist, read, “I herd you like roses.” Herd. “This is so funny,” she knew, “because of how fanatical you are about language.”

We still have the card.

Beth before kids

I'm now forbidden to ski; stay alive for kids

I’m now forbidden to ski; stay alive for kids

Beth worked in the garment industry in Manhattan when we met. She worked at Macy’s out of school, at Nautica, and later as Director of Production for the largest manufacturer of sleepwear for Wal*Mart. Toward the end there in 2000, it wasn’t fun anymore.

The story I best remember illustrated her frustration at work. She told me how she was checking on a shipment that was running late. “The shipment is on the boat” (a third-world equivalent of “the check is in the mail”), the fax read. Later she learned the shipment hadn’t even been produced(!). There was a bountiful rice crop that year – all the workers took higher-paying jobs in the fields.

Wal*Mart wasn’t amused.

I was doing well as Director of Relationship Marketing for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM at the time. “Don’t work,” I told her. “Find something you enjoy doing.” And so, when we returned from a three-week trip to Botswana (oh, the trips we used to take before the boys came), she quit. She took some classes, and ultimately re-discovered her art.

Original photo

Original photo (click to enlarge)

Beth's original art

Beth’s original art (click to enlarge)

As “Painting with Paper,” Beth makes collage work unlike anything I’ve seen. We have four pieces hanging in our home. She does pieces on commission, mostly for friends and through referrals. A true artist, she loves the creation, not the selling. “I don’t feel right charging my friends too much,” she says. Only after I calculated an hourly rate reasonable for hand-crafted commissioned work did she relent. I posted a few of her pieces on this post about strong positioning. (Want a unique portrait of your own? Email me.)

Beth Hage, mother extraordinaire

Beth loves her brothers (here, pregnant with Zachary)

Pregnant with Zachary; laughing with brothers

I tell her, “Beth, you are the best mother I know.” She has a hard time accepting the compliment.

Our boys have a lot of energy. She’s great with them; knows how to channel their energy more productively. She speculated why Zachary had trouble focusing in class and discovered for him Tomatis (something about the bone conduction in his ear) and, separately, eye therapy (she tells me he could have lost vision in one eye had “we” not caught it). She’s working through some Lucas issues too: It comes naturally to her.

I remember when we were newlyweds. She wondered if she’d be a good mom and thought she’d be a better “girl mom” than a “boy mom.” She realizes now that she was definitely supposed to be a boy mom.

She’s a true soccer mom. She plays in a league for herself AND coaches Zachary’s soccer league. She took him to T-ball, she graduated along with him to junior baseball where she coaches that too. Lucas, who prefers individual sports (biking, scooter, driving anything he’s allowed to drive) gets all the freedom he needs to explore.

She’s a great “doggy mom” too. Brooklyn, our King Charles Cavalier is 100 percent Beth’s dog. He has two people in his life: “Momma” and “Not Momma.” You, me, my kids, we’re all “Not Momma.” I come home from a week away, I get generous tail wagging. Momma comes home from the store and he goes freakin’ nuts: whimpering, climbing on her leg, running around. Sleeping on our bed is insufficient for Brooklyn. Sleeping on Beth is better. When I leave in the morning, I see the back of Beth’s head buried in a pillow, the dog draping her neck like a scarf, checking me out as I leave.

Our family (click to enlarge)

Our family (click to enlarge)

Lucky

People tell me I’m lucky.

I know.

Beth, I love you. I’m grateful for everything we have. She makes me laugh: Last month I noted the 14th anniversary of the day we met.

“14 years. That’s a lot of Beth,” I told her. “That’s a lot more Joey!” she immediately replied.

She’s right. And I’m grateful I have someone so strong to keep me on the straight and narrow.

I love you, Beth. I love you.

Comments

  1. that is so sweet! happy anniversary lovebirds… very beautiful sentiments…

  2. Not our anniversary! Just missing her after a few days away…

    Besides, the 100th blog post should be something momentous, yes?

  3. Flávia Jucá says:

    I am so happy finding, little by little, persons that I admire since I got the chance to know, Joe! You are on this list.
    For a special men, no doubt, comes a very special woman, that what I believe so.
    Sorry for my bad english, I do not care. I really care to keep in touch and never get any chance to get lost again from you all.
    Beautiful kids!!! Come you all, please, one day to visit us down here in Brazil.
    Beth, good job! Perfect paint! I liked.
    I will be very happy when I got the chance to meet you and the two boys.
    Love + kisses, Flávia

  4. Flávia, it’s wonderful to be back in touch. We would very much like to visit you in Brazil one day.

    Count on it!

  5. Pat Brucato Spurgeon says:

    So nice to see how lovely the Hage family turned out… Knew when I met you that you’d be a fun Dad. Congrats on your beautiful family and of course your continuing love story.

  6. Joe Hage says:

    How lovely of you, Pat. Thank you.

    Yes, I did luck out with a great wife and kids. Hope you’re well.

  7. Ivonne@ I-DEUS says:

    Wow, such a great love story. Sounds like a fairy tale come true. Congratulations to both of you for keeping and loving each other.

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