Theirs is a love story that spans more than three decades.
It’s the story of two people who met, fell in love, and then life got in the way. And then, happily, life took another turn, and is now going their way.
Charlotte Jacquelynne Poole, 69, and Michael Fred Shapiro, 73, recently celebrated their love and friendship in a well-attended and carefully put together commitment ceremony at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh.
The event took place January 19, the day that Mr. Shapiro turned 73, so the celebration, according to Ms. Poole, was “a double whammy.”
Their tale of friendship began nearly 32 years ago on June 12, 1986 when Ms. Poole was attending Friday night services at Temple Emanu-El in Edison, and Mr. Shapiro, who worked nearby in Woodbridge, happened to go to there that evening. It was then that they met and began a conversation that became an enduring relationship. Mr. Shapiro wound up driving Ms. Poole and her mother home to Bound Brook.
“We kept in touch,” said Ms. Poole, who was single, and Mr. Shapiro, who was divorced with three children.
Their relationship spanned the years. Ms. Poole, who is blind, is an accomplished violinist. Mr. Shapiro would accompany her to some of her medical appointments. He also escorted her to local nursing homes where she volunteered and entertained the residents playing her violin. For 14 years, they would do these “musical mitzvahs” together. When Ms. Poole moved into the Jewish Home at Rockleigh in December 2011, their time together became more limited.
Mr. Shapiro, whose own health suffered medical issues, was out of the country and then in a distant nursing home for some time. While the two kept in touch, it wasn’t until the possibility of Mr. Shapiro joining Ms. Poole at the Jewish Home came up that the two would actually be able to be together.
On February 28, Mr. Shapiro made the Jewish Home at Rockleigh his new home.
“I was praying for that to happen,” said Ms. Poole. “I love him so much. He’s the best. This is really a blessing, and I thank God that we can be together.”
Said Mr. Shapiro, “She is amazing. I love her. She is beautiful inside and out.”
In putting together the party to celebrate their love and commitment to one another, Ms. Poole knew exactly what she wanted.
“She was her own party planner,” said Sunni Herman, executive vice president of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh. Ms. Poole took care of the details from soup to nuts, booking the social hall, ordering the bagels and spreads and sheet cake from the food services, booking the rabbi, inviting her guests — everything that one does to pull a party together.
“She could have written the book,” said Ms. Herman.
On that day, the beauty parlor did her hair — gratis — she wore a lovely outfit, and Mr. Shapiro even had a cubic zirconium ring to give to Ms. Poole.
Ms. Herman said the ceremony was touching and celebratory as she remarked on the closeness of the two, who do everything together from having their meals to playing Bingo to going to various activities as a couple.
“They hold onto each other and they live life to the fullest,” said Ms. Herman, “They provide that sight and insight for each other. Romance happens at the Jewish home. This is a romance that has gone public.
“It was a privilege to help make this happen.”