It is so supercritical during times like these to have family.  What to offer?  Well, Annette is my wife of five and a half years.  We met under the most unusual circumstances and I thought I would share that story.
Back in 2012 I was working on a project for 3M and needed to visit a local Office Max store to confirm some design details with Nic, one of my staff.  Nic was leading the project and I thought it would be a great opportunity to grab lunch with him and give some focused time as his supervisor and design-collaborator.  I knew of a pizza joint right next to the Office Max, that I’d never been to so I offered lunch to Nic and we planned for it.  It was a particularly cold and snowy day in January and Nic and I got busy that morning so that our departure to lunch was later than a normal lunch hour.  Because it was so late we decided to hit the pizza joint first.  
Mancino’s was pretty busy when we walked in. Sitting at a table just inside the doorway was this beautiful gal with wonderful flowing red curls of hair and she looked directly at me a beamed the most wonderful smile anyone has ever seen.  I was immediately taken!  Nic and I proceeded to the counter to order our food then settled into a booth on the far side of the restaurant.  I strategically positioned myself on the side of our table so that I could get a view of that beautiful gal from across the restaurant.  By this time she had met someone who joined her and they were sitting in a booth where she was facing my direction as well. (Now it is important in this story to note that to this day we both disagree as to whether Annie was sitting at a table in a chair, and not that booth, where she then moved to the booth, verses her opinion that she was in that booth when I walked in.  I do know the memory of her shiny wonderful smile and curly red locks was off to my right as I passed her but she insists she was in that booth on the left the whole time!) 
So over lunch with Nic, I had all to do to concentrate on Nic.  I knew we only had the time it would take to consume our lunch for me to ask him how his family was, how is work was going and other general, good to chat over lunch sort of banter.  
But my attention was consumed!  I was drawn like a moth to a flame of red-haired desire and curious youthful attraction to this gal.  I found myself constantly looking over at her while trying to concentrate on Nic as he shared answers to my questions.  Frankly, I didn’t hear much of what he was saying.  (I’ve told this story to Nic and certainly apologized often). 
As time went on across our half-hour of lunch, the gal of my future had gotten up and sashayed across the restaurant to the ladies’ room.  She told me afterward that she was putting on her best swagger, knowing I was checking her out.  So what do do?  How was I going to meet this woman?
Interestingly enough, at a recent evening out with another bachelor friend of mine who happened to be a VP of Sales, he was whining on about not being able to meet a great gal and I coached him by saying “Dude! You are in sales!  All you have to do is ask!  If they say no, then move on!” So recalling this conversation I had with my friend, I decided I needed to approach this red-headed wonderful looking owner of such a smile – but how?  What was my plan?  It was then that I spied the trash cans just near their table.  
When Nic was barely done with the last bite of his pizza, I grabbed his tray and said: “I’ll take that for you.” And off to the trash cans near their table, I went. After disposing of the trays quickly, I sauntered up to their table and said “Excuse me ladies, but if you don’t mind my interruption, I wanted to say that as a single guy, it is so difficult to meet people these days, my name is Fred and I was taken by your smile when I walked in. I’m wondering if you would be interested in going out with me on a date?”
You the reader need to picture the point of view I held at that moment – speaking directly to this fantastic woman Annette, as she was seated to my right, as I stood at their table.  Off to my left, I heard a voice from Annette’s guest who asked: “And what do you do for a living?”  I turned to square up to the voice that was coming from Annette’s mother, Candace.
So I did what anyone would do. _I lowered my voice an octave and said with strong confidence as I whipped out my business card, “I’m the Creative Director at a local packaging company here in the area.”  With that, I handed Annette my card and asked if she would allow me to call her for a date.  She dug out her card as she beamed that beautiful smile up at me, handed it to me and said she would gladly consider a date.  I departed with pleasant good-byes and called her later that evening.  She was busy that night but was free the next night.  We went to dinner, lunch the next day, then dinner that evening, then brunch and some live music on the following day and I think there was another date in there somewhere that first weekend also.
It turns out, the day we met at Mancino’s was her birthday. She and her mom were meeting for lunch to celebrate her birthday and my visit and request for a date was, as I’m told the source of lots of giggling by the two of them for most of the rest of that day.  A few months and many dates later Annette moved in with me.  She was supposed to move in November but came a month early.  We joke often that she still owes me that month! 
After a few more months I knew this Annie person was my person.  She is warm, sweet, loving and caring.  I ask myself almost every day since I met her “what did I do to deserve this wonderful woman in my life? How can it be that I am worthy of such a person?  How is it that the universe brought us together?”
In no time at all, we both decided it was the right thing to do by getting married.  So off to Kauai Hawaii we went and onto Shipwreck Beach where we were married along a beach of Pacific waters, a stunning rocky cliff and palm trees.  Three witnesses included a photographer, a Ukulele player and a justice of the peace. I’ve never met anyone in this universe more in love with me, nor have I ever been more in love with anyone else. Annie is my person.  I am her person.  We are our people.  From the day I met her I knew there was something wonderful I could be for her.
 
You see we have a grand piano at our home studio and I would play improvisations every evening.  Annie loves my playing and she often asked me to play “that George Winston stuff.”
She is my muse.  She is so supportive of my creativity and my music.  No man could ever want more from a spouse as she sees happiness through our creative endeavors.  I often feel guilty when I play a gig because I am on stage and not with Annie.  But she is there in the audience with a super smile and all attention on me.  I might not have had the accolades I have wanted in my performances but when I look out from behind my saxophone and I see Annie there, smiling up at me, I know I am loved!  And I love her back so much!
So as my muse, while I spent evenings doodling on the piano I came up with the idea to write a song for my Annie.  My improvisations moved to a place absolutely influenced by Annie.  Annie’s soul, love, and heart was washing through me as I composed my love letter of a song for Annie.
It wasn’t difficult because it flowed so from within.  Song For Annie, it turns out is one of my best hits off the 1st and only album I produced with my jazz group.
Song for Annie is always in my head as Annie is always in my heart.
Here is the song if you would like to take a listen.
-Freddy