George Moscatello, 93 and Milady Uceta, 67 met in 1983 while riding the 7 train in Queens. They wound up spending more than three decades together when, in 2016, Moscatello popped the question to her while out for dinner.
Uceta said yes and asked if they could marry in Israel, a place she has always wanted to visit. But soon after, Moscatello’s health began failing, and they chose to postpone the wedding.
Now in hospice care while living in their Woodside apartment, however, Moscatello wanted the chance to marry the love of his life while he still had the chance. On May 31, with the help of the professionals caring for him, they finally tied the knot in an intimate ceremony at their home.
Moscatello — a former singer and a war veteran — is currently a patient of Hospice of New York, located at 45-18 Court Square in Long Island City. He and Uceta declined to discuss the specifics of his condition.
Their story began in 1983 when the two were taking the 7 train, and a chance encounter brought the Bronx-born veteran and Dominican Republic native together. On that day, Uceta was in Forest Hills heading to Corona to visit some friends.
“Someone pushed me into him on the train,” she recalled.
They went to visit her friends together, and she said the husband of one of her friends acted as translator for them. From there, their relationship flourished.
At the time, she said, she did not speak much English; the only words she knew were “I’m sorry”, “excuse me” and “yes.” In the beginning of their relationship, they communicated using English and Spanish dictionaries. Eventually, Uceta said she started learning English.
The pair are avid travelers, making it a priority to take about two trips per year. Uceta said that one of her favorite places they have been to together was Turkey. She raved about the beauty of the country and remembers how much fun they had dancing on the trip. They have also been to Greece, Italy, Morocco and multiple cruises to different countries around the world.
“I did everything in my lifetime. When you’re 93, you do everything,” Moscatello said.
Patricia Crupi, the chaplain and spiritual care coordinator for Hospice of New York, presided over their wedding. She read them a poem entitled “True Love” and a passage from 1 Corinithians 13, as husband and wife tenderly held each other’s hands.
Lillie Klein, a music therapist from the hospice gave a special acoustic guitar performance of the Paris Sisters’ 1961 hit “I Love How You Love Me.”
Also in attendance at the nuptials were other hospice employees, including Dr. Fred Schwartz, Sean Casserly RN, Carolyn Parson, a social worker and John Diaz-Chermack the hospice assistant administrator and compliance officer.
On the day of his and Uceta’s wedding, he periodically broke into his own rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year” and joked that he would go back to being 17 if he could. Many reminders of his vintage life could be found lining the perimeter of the room where the ceremony was held.
The model airplanes and sailboats brought to mind Moscatello’s time during World War II and the Korean War. After lying about his age, the then 16-year-old Moscatello enlisted in the Army during World War II and was discharged at 20.
The war veteran served in three branches of the armed forces during his lifetime: the Army, Navy and Air Force. While serving he had the opportunity to fly planes, build boats and even ride in a submarine.
In addition to serving in the armed forces, Moscatello sang at nightclubs and cruise ships during and after his time in service. Some highlights that he remembers about his singing career include when he had the opportunity to perform in British theater from 1942 to 1945 and also when sang “Vesti la giubba” from Pagliacci during his time performing in Massachusetts.
In fact, for the wedding, he wore the jacket that he used to wear as a nightclub singer in 1949.
As for his longevity, Moscatello said that his secrets were “a young woman and cognac.” The ceremony didn’t include cognac, but rather a champagne toast for a happy marriage — and to a life well lived.