The events leading up to Murray Silverman’s marriage to Muriel Siragher were typical of many love stories—boy meets girl, falls for her and asks for her hand in marriage.
But it become clear that this tale is far from typical when the parts about the groom being 98, the bride being 88 and the marriage taking place in the chapel of the Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt Manor are added.
“She always kidded me,” said Silverman, who also goes by the nickname Muzzy. “She’d say ask me to marry you so I can say no.”
Said Siragher: “But when push came to shove, I didn’t say no.”
Silverman and Siragher, who live in Manalapan, NJ, came to the area to stay with Siragher’s granddaughter in Yorktown Heights after they lost power during Sandy. Shortly after they came to the area, Silverman had to be admitted to the hospital for a heart condition.
That incident convinced Silverman not to waste any more time and on Monday afternoon he called Arthur Klein, Siragher’s son-in-law, and asked him if he could arrange a marriage ceremony.
“There was no hesitancy on anyone’s part,” Klein said. “We’ve all know Muzzy for 40, 50 years.”
Said Silverman: “We decided, at least I decided, that I loved Muriel and I wanted to honor her by marrying her and I wanted to be honored by her acceptance.”
Klein said his wife and Siragher’s daughter, Penny Klein, contacted Cantor Jamie Tortorelllo-Allen of Temple Beth Am in Yorktown Heights to see if she was available to perform the ceremony. Then they asked hospital staff to see if they’d allow the wedding.
“The hospital couldn’t have been more gracious,” Klein said.
Victoria Hochman, a spokeswoman for HVHC, said the hospital has hosted weddings before, but Silverman and Siragher are easily the oldest couple to tie the knot at the facility.
“I spoke with Suzanne Matteo, who is the nursing supervisor here, to see if Murray was up to it physically,” Hochman said. “Once that was determined, Susan just got everything rolling. They go the environmental staff to build a Huppa and they got the dietary staff to get the cake and the food for the reception. Everyone just scrambled together and we got the auxiliary to get flowers for the bride and a boutonniere for the groom. It just took on a life of it’s own.”
This is Silverman’s second marriage and Siragher’s third.
The two met more than 50 years ago when Murray and his first wife, Rose, and Muriel and her first husband, Irving, met on a trip to Greece. The couples became good friends and shared a love of travel. Silverman and Siragh had not seen much of each other after the deaths of their spouses.
They reconnected about six years ago when Silverman stayed with Siragh in Florida during the illness of a mutual friend.
“Muriel invited me to stay in her spare bedroom,” Silverman said. “Her husband had passed away and we found that we were so close as though we had been together and apart for only a short time.”
Sue Kurian, one Siragh’s three daughters, drove to the area from Massachusetts Wednesday night for the wedding. She told a story about her mother’s devotion to Silverman during the wedding reception.
“During the summer, she would come to stay at my summer house, which is in Putnam Valley, and at 11 p.m. every night she would excuse herself and say she’s tired, it’s time to go to sleep,” Kurian said. “However, I knew she would go into her bedroom and take out her cellphone, which she only knows how to call out... and she would call Muzzy. Every night, they would be on the phone for a half hour, 45 minutes and I don’t know if she knew, but I could hear it through the walls.”
As much as he loved Siragh, Silverman said he struggled with the idea of marrying her.
“I resisted marriage because of personal reasons,” Silverman said. “Plus, I had a feeling that my late wife might be let down if I married again. But I thought about it and Muriel and I discussed it.”
Although power has returned to their home, the couple are staying put until Silverman regains his health.
“I’m in circumstances where I can’t decide anything and my honeymoon will be resting in bed,” Silverman said.
“Alone,” Siragh added.