Jean West asked her wife, Donna Mattucci, to record “a record of two lives that lived through an amazing cultural transformation.” The couple often talk about how, as acceptance of same-sex couples becomes the norm, the truth of how they lived the first half of their lives will become unknown and, even, unfathomable.
Jean and Donna recorded their story at the StoryCorps Buffalo mobile tour stop on September 11, 2016.
Originally aired October 4, 2016 on WBFO.
Read the transcript below:
Jean West (JW) and Donna Mattucci (DM)
JW: What are the best aspects of being married?
DM: Wow, well you, for sure, as my wife is the best aspect of being married. And really, it’s the validity of our relationship now. That I don’t have to scramble for a word anymore as to what our relationship is.
JW: I love the ease of identifying you as my wife. In interactions, affords to instantly identify what our relationship is to each other in a way that ‘partner’ or all those other words never did.
DM: I can remember when we were engaged, which was a wonderful year-long celebration of planning and so much fun that we would have, and going to that JoAnn Fabric store. We were picking out fabric for the tables, I think for the uh…
JW: The reception.
DM: Yeah, for the reception. The table liners and decorative fabrics, or something like that. And you were in line paying for it and I had kind of stepped to the side. And like you are, you were telling everybody that we were getting married. You weren’t in line telling everybody. But the cashier had said to you, ‘What’s the fabric for?’
JW: Yeah, please.
DM: And you were like, ‘It’s for our wedding!’ And you were so happy, and I’m kind of standing over there going, ‘Oh, my god. What is this grandmother going to do with that information?’ And I can remember her turning and looking at me and smiling and saying, ‘Oh, congratulations.’ And in that moment, because of course we kept having those interactions over and over and over again in the planning of the wedding…but in that moment I remember walking out of the store with you and saying, ‘The world changed and I missed it.’
DM: We didn’t know whether we would get married. You know, because marriage was the thing that ‘hets’ did and it was such an institution. And it was an institution that we were never really a part of and didn’t really know whether or not we wanted to be a part of it. So even once it was legal, it wasn’t necessarily something that we were going to do. But because of my relationship with Jean and – as she mentioned in the beginning – we had been together long before we got married. It, at some point, did seem like the direction I wanted, we wanted our relationship to move into. And it was the best thing that we did.
JW: That’s true, Donna. I love you so much and I’m so happy we’re married. And I’m really enjoying our life before, during, and afterwards.
DM: Yeah. We have a great life. We have a really good life. I love you, too, Jean.