The Lisa and Sam Story: Nine years from concept to publication

Some of the awesome wedding bouquets

Our younger daughter, Lisa, didn’t date much in high school. She had plenty of guy friends, but none of them ever generated serious sparks. Mom and Dad heard the same mantra over and over as her journey through Cony High School progressed. “Talk to the hand, I’m headed to college in New York City.” She and Beth spent a memorable weekend (not unlike the weather we’re experiencing here in Maine right now), looking at schools in and around the Big Apple. NYU didn’t impress, neither did Sarah Lawrence. They were slogging through the Bronx, melting from the heat, getting dizzy from the odoriferous fumes emanating from trash well past its pickup date and about to say to heck with visiting Fordham, when a street clinic nurse noticed their weariness and asked where they were going. Beth told her and the woman assured them it wasn’t far away and would be well worth the effort. I wonder if that woman knows what she helped set in motion that hot July day.

These ladies were having some serious fun before the ceremony.

Beth and Lisa did, indeed find Fordham a worthwhile destination and Lisa was accepted. Her intent was to get a degree in communication, but as we all know, life has a way of directing us to unexpected and interesting places. I suppose having three generations of teachers preceding you might have some influence. During Lisa’s sophomore year, she had a work-study opportunity at a parochial school near campus, working with third graders and another teacher was born. She went on to get her degree in communications as well as a fast-track masters in the same field at Fordham, but her interest in seeing young lives become better continued to grow.

Roseanne and Joy Barrese

Sam Barrese grew up in Port Chester, New York. One of three sons, with a younger sister, Sam was getting his engineering degree at Manhattan College when his best friend Joey talked him into going to a birthday party because, as he put it, there were going to be some hot chicks there. Sam wasn’t much for fashion. In fact, rumor has it that Joey made him wear some of his clothes so he wouldn’t scare off those hot chicks. Something clicked that evening and it wasn’t long before Sam and Lisa were an item.

We got to meet him when they came to Hartland for the 4th of July the summer after they met. He was quiet, but well-spoken and we discovered that his parents had spent several weeks over a period of years vacationing at Morrill Pond which straddles the Hartland/Canaan town line. While Sam had a few handicaps (he was a republican AND a Yankee fan), he had some awesome assets too. He was an avid gamer, worked in stained glass and was one heck of a good cook.

Father and daughter starting the post wedding festivities.

It wasn’t long before we thought of Sam as part of our family and his parents, Pat and Roseanne, thought of Lisa as part of theirs. The two graduated and Sam went to work in Manhattan and continued living at home, while Lisa finished her masters and was a graduate RA in one of Fordham’s dorms. The teacher bug continued to grow inside her and when she graduated a second time, she got a job teaching in one of the more challenging environments, a middle school in the Bronx. She was, as she described it one night over dinner, charged with educating kids who spent their non-school hours living in homeless shelters with addicted single parents. Not exactly the most conducive educational environment. By this point, everyone figured that Sam and Lisa would eventually get married, we just didn’t know when or where. She had moved in with Pat, Roseanne and Sam, bringing Jada, the stray Siamese kitty that had been hanging around her dormitory. Shortly after this move, she discovered that Jada was pregnant. It was a testimony to Roseann and Pat’s goodness that they not only rolled with the addition of another adult to their cramped household, but also managed to stay sane when Jada gave birth to four kittens.

Our version of the infamous Cohen Bros., Jake and Max.

Fast forward a couple years. Lisa has been accepted into the New York Regent Scholars program which accepts about 5% of applicants interested in getting a masters in education and expressing a willingness become a role model for other teachers down the road. She’s back in school, Sam is designing power plants and they’re starting to talk more seriously about wedding stuff. Lisa completed her 2nd masters and went to work in a Bronx charter school. She and Sam started looking at houses in Port Chester, bandying about prices that came close to giving Beth and me heart attacks. It wasn’t long before the talk became reality and we were off to see their new digs.

Four generations were in attendance, ranging from grandmother Ellen Hills at 93 down to Carter Fortin, age three who was the ring bearer.

By this time, Sam and Lisa had settled on a date and a location: July 6, 2013 at the Samoset. I’m big on simple and the plans sounded like anything but. I’m grateful that I had sense enough to stay out of the way and do what I was asked whenever a directive came my way. Looking back on everything, I’m floored at how quickly time flew by. It seemed like one day I was hearing about this family event that was a year and a half in the future, the next, we’re driving down Rt. 7 through rural Waldo County, heading to the Samoset for the rehearsal.

I figured that as complex as this event had become, something had to go awry. It turned out to be one of the best and most memorable days of my life. We had sunshine, a host of dragonflies and sailboats witnessing the outdoor ceremony, plenty of happy guests, beautiful flowers and a retired sea captain with a great sense of humor to perform the ceremony. Lisa had me do a reading from Ogden Nash and her cousin Melina read a terrific poem called “I Like You and I Know Why.”

Author Kate Flora with the Rockland Breakwater in the background.

Lisa’s sister Sara did a stellar job of organizing the gussying the morning of the wedding. No small feat when ten bridesmaids and matrons need to be buffed and coiffed. Sam, an avid Xbox 360 gamer, designed the rings, with his having symbols from his favorite games embedded in it. The flowers were all grown in Maine and arranged by an extremely capable woman from Montville. Sam created stained glass roses for each guest, while table favors were new books written by various family members. We ate and danced into the night and were treated to an unexpected fireworks display out on Vinalhaven that seemed to last a half hour. The festivities concluded with guests creating an arch of colored sparklers as the bride and groom exited the giant tent where post-wedding festivities were held.

Sam and Lisa as husband and wife.

I’m including several pictures to help you get a better sense of what happened. One thing that amazed me was how many wedding pictures were posted to Facebook by noon the following day. Anyone who wasn’t able to attend the event certainly could get a real sense of what happened by looking at the array of pictures.

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5 Responses to The Lisa and Sam Story: Nine years from concept to publication

  1. Beautiful bride and ceremony, John!
    Now begins their “happily ever after”…

  2. Gram says:


  3. Lea Wait says:

    Thanks for “inviting us” to hear their story, and be part of the story, John! I’m glad some of my books for young people have made their way into Lisa’s classroom … and now I’m happy to know a little more abut Lisa and her Sam. You’re right to be a very proud dad.

  4. Leese says:

    Nice story Dad! Glad you enjoyed the wedding despite your reservations ahead of time! But a few factual errors: my program was the Teaching Fellows and there were six kittens, not the more manageable four!

  5. Barb Ross says:

    What an absolutely beautiful story! Mazel Tov!

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