Friday, March 11, 2011

Karen Cahill and James Nicholes


When Karen Cahill and James Edward Nicholes went to the Manhattan Marriage Bureau on Feb. 22, they arrived in a white stretch Hummer, not to be ostentatious but because they needed a big vehicle: Five of the six children from their previous marriages were taking part in their wedding.
Mr. Nicholes, 45, said the ceremony was about more than uniting a husband and a wife: “It’s not just us, it’s the families together.”It was partly because of Ms. Cahill’s children that the couple met some seven years ago. She was the president of the P.T.A. at the Robert W. Carbonaro Elementary School in Valley Stream, N.Y., which her children attended and where Mr. Nicholes was, and still is, a custodian.He was the man she would call to arrange pizza deliveries and tables for bake sales. Mr. Nicholes said that she was often the last to leave the P.T.A. meetings. He spoke to her after one meeting and learned that her marriage was ending, as was his.They became friends. “We basically leaned on each other through the whole time of our divorces,” said Ms. Cahill, 48, an office manager for the Nassau County Parks Department in Hewlett, N.Y. “It was a friendly thing, and then after the divorces we stayed in touch with each other.”As friendship became something more, Mr. Nicholes was careful, mindful that their children had to be “comfortable.”One of Ms. Cahill’s children, Lauren, 21, said that she had known Mr. Nicholes as her school janitor and liked that he was a familiar face.Mr. Nicholes said that the relationship gradually went from just “hanging out” to socializing over dinner or a drink. “It just snowballed from there.”“There was no real ‘boom,’ ” he added. “It just gradually came about.”Ms. Cahill said that at one time she thought she would never remarry. “You look at things differently the second time,” she said. “You don’t think of it as, ‘Ooh, a house and babies and live happily ever after,’ ” she said.Mr. Nicholes and Ms. Cahill now share a house in Valley Stream, and because they each have joint custody with their former spouses, on any given day various combinations of the children stay with them.The subject of marriage did come up occasionally, Mr. Nicholes said, and while “our love kept growing through all the ups and downs,” there was no specific catalyst that made him raise the topic last October.As he told it, he asked Ms. Cahill if she would marry him if he bought an engagement ring, and she said yes.A few days later, he picked up the ring from the jewelry store and couldn’t wait until Ms. Cahill arrived home; he drove straight to her office in Hewlett. “I just couldn’t hold it anymore,” he said.“I was shaking,” Ms. Cahill said. “I couldn’t breathe I was so excited.”The deep respect developed over their years together, she said, made her say yes.Relationships are “not just handed to you,” she said. “And you think about the future and you ask, ‘Who do you want to grow old with?’ ”The couple’s children rushed into the bright lavender chapel in a bustle of grins and camera flashes. A handful of relatives stood in front of the bride and bridegroom and snapped photographs during the five-minute ceremony.Ms. Cahill’s oldest daughter, Heather, 23, stood beside her mother. (Her oldest child, Thomas, 25, a former Marine, had just taken a Defense Department job in Mississippi and couldn’t attend.)Aidan Nicholes, 13, stood next to his father at the ceremony with an untied left shoelace and handed over the bride’s ring. Later, he said, “It’s good having more people in the family.”Aidan’s sister, Elizabeth, 12, agreed, saying that she had “always wanted sisters.” As the Cahill daughters posed for photographs, she observed, “They’re pretty.”Megan Cahill, 17, the youngest of Ms. Cahill’s children, said with a grin, “Now there’s someone younger than me.”The bride wore a bronze-colored cocktail dress that she bought online, and Linda Kropf, one of her cousins, remarked that Mr. Nicholes had had a definite influence, making her normally stoic cousin act “all bubbly.”“Jim made her feel special again,” Ms. Kropf said. “It was something she hadn’t felt in a long time.”James Mitchell, the Marriage Bureau’s floor manager, who officiated, was marking his first anniversary of performing weddings. He said that this one was memorable because of the strong family presence.“You could just feel they were surrounded by love,” he said. “It felt like being a part of something special.”After Mr. Nicholes and Ms. Cahill kissed, everyone in the party hugged and then mugged for the cameras in the hallway.Ms. Cahill said that during the ceremony something suddenly occurred to her.“Once we get back in that limo,” she said, “we will all be related.”

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