Harvey Lieberman of Rockville Centre talks about meeting his wife, Carol.
It is Passover, Easter, our 50th wedding anniversary all in one and the Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind — a good time for reflection.
Carol Schneider and I met in a mental institution, the South Oaks Psychiatric Hospital in Amityville, in August 1967. Carol, a Lindenhurst girl, was an inpatient-unit psychiatric nurse. I, a Valley Stream guy, was interning as a clinical psychologist. Without our knowing it, colleagues had talked about fixing us up, but we had already noticed each other.
I would regularly ask Carol for feedback on new patients, and she would hand me clinical reports with a coquettish smile. I made the first move, asking Carol to take my blood pressure. She graciously agreed, and we were surprised it was sky high. A supervising psychiatrist consoled me by saying it must have been my romantic thoughts.
We started dating and enjoyed going to the beach at Robert Moses State Park during the day and Cooky’s Steak Pub at Walt Whitman mall or House of Chang in Valley Stream for dinner. When I returned to Penn State in September to finish my degree, Carol and I took turns visiting each other.
After dating for three years, we were married April 12, 1970, at Carol’s family home in Lindenhurst. We lived in Pennsylvania for a year, then returned to New York, where I completed my internship at Meadowbrook Hospital, now known as Nassau University Medical Center. We settled in Rockville Centre and have lived there since.
While Carol was raised Catholic and I Jewish, religion was not an important issue between us. It was more of a concern for our families, but, fortunately, they were secular, relationship-oriented and very supportive. Carol and I aren’t observant but have shared many Christmas trees and Hanukkah menorahs over the years. Fortunately, the Long Island area is diverse and tolerant, and we have a loving group of friends.
Aspects of our lives that have drawn us closer over the years include the suburban Long Island lifestyle and the pleasures of New York City, our mental health professions, our late English cocker spaniel Rachel and, most of all, parenting our son, Jay.
Carol and I have supported each other through early shared losses and major stressors. Within three years of our marriage, my parents and Carol’s father died prematurely. We had nearly a decade of infertility before our son, Jay, was born in 1985. After his birth, we felt like we won the lottery — and still do. Last year Jay married Lydia, an efficient, smart and attractive woman. Fortunately, they live nearby in Forest Hills.
After so many years, it’s not surprising that Carol and I don’t agree on everything. I believe the British manservant’s voice Carol selected for her cellphone Siri voice sounds like a slouchy, incompetent alcoholic and a purveyor of incorrect information. Carol insists my Australian-sounding gal is no Nicole Kidman, but rather a trollop so distracted by other matters that her reliability for directions is spotty.
But there is much we enjoy together. We relish our professions. Carol is a nurse practitioner in psychiatry in Brooklyn, and I consult with mental health agencies from home. We frequently travel abroad and immerse ourselves in foreign cultures. If and when the day comes, we are prepared to give it up to help care for any grandchildren.
We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with a virtual party convened by family and friends. When the world becomes healthy and safe again, other festivities will be planned, including a trip to Australia.
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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