Appreciating 'The Luckiest Thing' In Life Joan and Ari DeLevie met in 1959, when they noticed one another at a party. They've been together ever since -- even over their parents' objections. Their daughter talks with the couple about their bond, and how it's helping them face a new challenge: cancer.
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Appreciating 'The Luckiest Thing' In Life

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Appreciating 'The Luckiest Thing' In Life

Appreciating 'The Luckiest Thing' In Life

Appreciating 'The Luckiest Thing' In Life

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One Marriage, Two Conversations: Sharon DeLevie with her mother, Joan (above), and father, Ari (below), at StoryCorps in New York City. StoryCorps hide caption

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StoryCorps

One Marriage, Two Conversations: Sharon DeLevie with her mother, Joan (above), and father, Ari (below), at StoryCorps in New York City.

StoryCorps
StoryCorps
Ari and Sharon DeLevie spoke at StoryCorps in New York City.
StoryCorps

Joan and Ari DeLevie met in 1959, when they noticed one another at a party. They've been together ever since -- despite their parents' objections.

In two separate StoryCorps conversations, their daughter, Sharon, talked with Joan and Ari about their bond, and how it's helping them face a new challenge.

As Joan recalls, she was at a party in 1959, when a young man named Ari caught her eye.

Discussing Cancer, And Family

Sharon DeLevie Speaks With Her Father, Ari

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"I saw this guy with a head of black hair and white, white, teeth and dark eyes -- and honest to God, my heart started to like, beat. We sort of caught each other's eye and then he came over. And I said: 'This be the guy.'

"We started dating, and then we were engaged about a month later. And this is exactly how he proposed: 'I've been thinking a lot about marriage,' " she says, laughing.

"I said, 'What? What did you say?' He says, 'Oh I've been thinking a lot about marriage.' And he said, 'Do you want to get married?' "

Joan told him yes.

"Then it was problematic, because his parents were against me and my parents were against him," she recalls. "He had a hole in his heart. My parents insisted that his parents send them the X-rays, so they could bring the X-rays to their doctor to make sure that he wasn't going to die in about a minute," she says, laughing.

Sharon asks her mom, "How has your life been different than you imagined it?"

"My feeling was that I would get married, have two to three children and be bored. Whereas being married to Daddy has been a very exciting journey, and way different than I thought it would be."

"Tell me about Daddy," Sharon says.

"Daddy has no hair anymore, his teeth are still white, and he personifies the word 'kind.'

"I have lung cancer, stage 4, and he's been my caretaker for a year and a half, and everything runs so smoothly because of him.

"I mean, if you know Ari, you know that he's the one who you want to take care of you if you're sick like this. He was probably the luckiest thing that's ever happened to me -- and believe me, it's luck."

Sharon's StoryCorps conversation with her father touches on the same subject:

"How have you two weathered this?" Sharon asks her father about Joan's cancer.

"Like a tiny ship in a big storm, kind of clinging together," Ari answers.

"Describe Mom," Sharon says.

"Ha! She's still bouncy," Ari answers.

"She's now 70 and a half, deathly ill, but you couldn't tell.

"You know the expression the new 50, the new 60, the new 70? I just coined another expression the other day -- she's now the new stage 4," he says with a laugh.

"Stage 4, as you know, is terminal. But she's the new stage 4 -- which means if you didn't know, you couldn't tell. Because she's funny as anything, and she's wonderful to be with."

"Yours is the great love that I've ever seen in my life. You know, not perfect -- but pretty darn close."

"What do you mean, not perfect?" her father asks.

Produced for Morning Edition by Vanara Taing. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.