StoryCorps: A Romance That Began With A Mistake The Dewanes' paths crossed when Claudia, a bank teller, accidentally gave Bill, a customer, too much money. It led to a first date, and an admission that an accident changed Bill for the better.
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A Romance That Began With A Mistake

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A Romance That Began With A Mistake

A Romance That Began With A Mistake

A Romance That Began With A Mistake

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/514299696/514458769" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Claudia and Bill on their wedding day, July 12, 1975. Courtesy of the Dewane family hide caption

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Courtesy of the Dewane family

Claudia and Bill on their wedding day, July 12, 1975.

Courtesy of the Dewane family

It was June 1973.

Claudia Maraviglia was working at a bank. Bill Dewane, a bank customer, had recently suffered a serious spinal cord injury that left him partially paralyzed.

"I was a teller, and you came in to cash a check and you had like, a denim shirt on, and it was partially open, and you had this nice long hair. You were so cute. And I remember I gave you too much money, 'cause I got so flustered," Claudia says. "But then you came back about an hour later, and you said, 'You gave me too much money. Do you want to go out with it tonight?' and I said, 'Well, then I'll get in trouble, so let's go out and I'll pay for it.' "

Bill says he didn't let her pay. They got engaged about three months after they started dating.

"For me it's just a very physical thing," says Bill, 67. "I mean, my skin would get all tingly, and you made me happy. You still make me happy."

Claudia and Bill Dewane. They spoke to StoryCorps in Camp Hill, Pa. Bill is a retired budget analyst for Pennsylvania. Claudia is a professor at Temple University. StoryCorps hide caption

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StoryCorps

"Were you worried at all about marrying a man with a disability?" he asks Claudia, 66.

"I really wasn't. I just felt like you were still you. Your accident was pretty traumatic and you've always said you've changed after that," she says.

Before his accident, Bill says, he wasn't very nice.

"I was a hard ass," he says. "I was not the type of person that I think you would have wanted to meet. But you get a chance to lay in bed for six months and re-evaluate who you are. It was ... an opportunity to change the way I was."

"Your most enduring trait to me is your determination. You just will not give up," Claudia says. "I notice our daughters have that, too."

Bill says he suspects Claudia puts him first.

"No, I put us first," Claudia says. "What's best for us."

"You've said that, but my disability, it's getting worse. You should opt out," he says.

"That's what for better or for worse means," she says. "What are you hoping for us as we enter this final chapter?"

"The little pillow that you have that says, 'If you live to be 100, I'd like to be 100 less one day,' " he says.

"Yeah, but I don't want that," she says.

"Well, I'm sorry. You look at the mortality tables," he says.

"You statistician you," she says, laughing. "You've very loved. I hope you know that — even though you are sometimes a pain."

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Kerrie Hillman.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Correction Feb. 10, 2017

A previous Web version of this story said the Dewanes were married after about three months of dating. They were engaged after about three months.