STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
OK, as StoryCorps celebrates 10 years of collecting stories, we've been looking back at some of your favorites this week. And today, a couple from Brooklyn that many of you will remember: Danny and Annie Perasa. Danny was a horse-betting clerk; his wife, Annie, a nurse. They spoke about deciding to get married on their first date, and still being in love 25 years later.
DANNY PERASA: I always feel guilty when I say I love you to you. And I say it so often. I say it to remind you that as dumpy as I am, it's coming from me - it's like hearing a beautiful song from a busted old radio. And it's nice of you to keep the radio around the house.
ANNIE PERASA: If I don't have a note on the kitchen table, I think there's something wrong. You write a love letter to me every morning.
DANNY PERASA: Well, the only thing that could possibly be wrong is, I couldn't find a silly pen.
ANNIE PERASA: (Reading) To my princess, the weather out today is extremely rainy. I'll call you at 11:20 in the morning...
DANNY PERASA: It's a romantic weather report.
ANNIE PERASA: (Reading) And I love you, I love you, I love you.
DANNY PERASA: When a guy is happily married - no matter what happens at work, no matter what happens in the rest of the day - there's a shelter when you get home. There's a knowledge, knowing that you can hug somebody without them throwing you down the stairs and saying, get your hands off me. And being married is like having a color television set. You never want to go back to black and white.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Oh, what voice. Danny and Annie came back to StoryCorps many times. Then in 2006, he was diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to record one last interview, so StoryCorps went to their home in Brooklyn.
ANNIE PERASA: The illness is not hard on me. It's just, you know, the finality of it; and him, he goes along like a trouper.
DANNY PERASA: She said - it was her call - she wants to walk out behind the casket alone. I guess that's the way to do it because when we were married, you know how your brother takes you down; your father takes you down? She said: Well, I don't know which of my brothers to walk in with. I don't want to offend anybody.
I says, I got a solution. I says, you walk in with me; you walk out with me. And the other day I said, who's going to walk down the aisle with you behind the casket - you know, to support her. And she said nobody. I walked in with you alone. I'm walking out with you alone. (Starts crying)
ANNIE PERASA: Mm-hmm.
DANNY PERASA: I always said, the only thing I have to give you was a poor gift and it's myself - and I always gave it. And if there's a way to come back and give it, I'll do that too. Do you have the Valentine's Day letter there?
ANNIE PERASA: Yeah.
(Reading) My Dearest Wife, this is a very special day. It is a day on which we share our love, which still grows after all these years. Now, that love is being used by us to sustain us through these hard times. All my love, all my days and more. Happy Valentine's Day. (Starts crying)
DANNY PERASA: (Crying) I could write on and on about her. She lights up the room in the morning, when she tells me to put both hands on her shoulders, so that she can support me. She lights up my life when she says to me at night: Wouldn't you like a little ice cream? Or, would you please drink more water? I mean, those aren't very romantic things to say, but they stir my heart. In my mind and my heart, there has never been, there is not now, and never will be, another Annie.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: That story aired on the Friday Danny died. Now, after more than seven years, let's check in with Annie Perasa.
ANNIE PERASA: I know that people have written to StoryCorps, asking if I was still alive. No, I'm still alive. And I live with the philosophy that Danny and I always had. It was: Never Say Goodbye.
This year would have been our 35th wedding anniversary. And I miss my letters from Danny. I do. But after Danny died, I had received 1,300 letters of condolences. I mean, I got letters as far away as Beijing, China - you know? Or Paris, France (Reading) My English is not too well, please excuse me, I wish to send my condolences.
So I would read one a day because Danny wrote me a love letter every day. You know, like people say: You must miss Danny terribly. No. It was an honor to be married to him. So it's not terrible that I had the time to be with him. You know, life is too short. You come, and you're gone. But Danny didn't go. He's not gone because of StoryCorps.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Annie Perasa at StoryCorps, in New York. Interviews are archived at the Library of Congress, and the podcast is at NPR.org.
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