Gary Halperin and RoseAnne McCabe comfortably chat with each other in their tidy Sarasota living room. A piano sits on one side: McCabe is a musician and plays bass with the Sarasota Orchestra. Halperin is a yoga instructor and helps care for their three children, Madeline, 9, Hannah, 6, and Megan 5. A mini-van sits in their driveway; their home radiates a sense of family.
They say fate brought them together 12 years ago when they both moved to Greensboro, N.C., around the same time. They met through a mutual friend, the conductor of the Greensboro Symphony.
“It just seemed like chance that we all ended up in Greensboro together,” she says.
In 1999, the mutual friend invited them both to a Mother’s Day dinner.
“Oh, he was handsome, really handsome, and he was so nice and just a normal nice guy,” she says about her initial impression. “And he knew my friends; it just felt safe.” He was struck by her beauty and wit, he says. On the drive to the restaurant that night, they both sat in the backseat of the car chatting non-stop.
“I was sort of like telling jokes or asking her questions that were a little beyond what you would do to somebody you just met,” he says. “And she was laughing and in sort of the right frame of mind I was in.”
After their first meeting, he was hesitant to ask her out. At the time, he only knew three people in Greensboro, N.C. — she being one of them. He thought that if things did not work out he would lose the only three friends he had. Regardless of his hesitations, one Friday night, he called her after other plans for the night fell through. She agreed to meet him at a vegetarian restaurant under the assumption that more people were coming out.
Then, while chatting over dinner he asked, “So, do you go on many dates?”
She replied, “Well, is this a date?”
He asked, “Do you want it to be?”
She said yes.
The couple talked late into the night.
“There were so many coincidences that same night,” they say in unison.
“I mean, you were reading the same book that I was reading; it was just unusual,” McCabe says to him.
She called her sister that night and said, “I think I met the one. I think I met the guy.”
For the next year, each day they’d learn something new about each other. He loved her sense of adventure and strength. He recalls a time when they went on a hike in West Virginia. They hiked up a mountain, walked across a 12-mile ridge and hiked back down. “She did it and she was totally fine, she didn’t even breathe heavy the whole way up.”
She fell for his wit and humor. She recalls a time they were leaving an old antique store when the shopkeeper asked, “Anything you can’t live without?” Halperin immediately replied, “Just her.”
Halperin had made a rule for himself that he was not going to propose to anyone until they’d dated for at least one year.
“We would have to go through all four seasons together, because, with my experience, people’s personalities and moods change with the seasons,” he says. “I wanted them to see me and for me to see them.”
One year from the day they met, he cooked her dinner at his home and proposed.
“Even though we had talked about it before, it still startled me,” McCabe says.
The couple did run into a speed bump during their engagement. Her family is Catholic; his family is Jewish.
“They asked very hard questions during our engagement,” she recalls. “(My family) wanted to question that because they wanted me to know deep down was this what I really wanted.”
When the couple was married Jan. 6, 2001, both families fully accepted the union.
The couple moved to Sarasota soon after they married, when she got a job with the Sarasota Orchestra. Their children attend the Temple Beth Sholom School but also practice Catholicism.
“Every day is different; every day is new; and there are no two days that have ever been alike,” she says.
Their second daughter, Hannah, was born with Down syndrome, but, despite the challenge, their love for each other and their family remains strong.
“For a lot of couples it causes a lot of problems in the relationship when you have to deal with extra stress,” Halperin says. “Nothing has fazed us. It’s meant to be, and there is this underlining trust that it’s forever, so we can survive anything.”
Words of Wisdom
â¤ RoseAnne McCabe learned from her father “tend to your knitting.” This means do you what you have to do for yourself. “It really is about self-love, when you can learn to love yourself, you can love other people,” she says.
â¤ Gary Halperin says be open to a lot of people even if they don’t meet the exact criteria for an ideal mate. “When somebody comes, even if they don’t meet your exact bullet points, you might want to be open to them because that might be someone to share your life with,” he says.
• He leaves the cabinet doors open.
• She leaves cereal stuck to the side of the bowl and leaves the bowl on the counter.