The relationship between my wife Nancy and me could not exactly be called love at first sight.

In 1982, I was a relatively new reporter covering Rockland city government. I had entered journalism, in part, because of the herculean efforts of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Rockland city government was coming out of a financial hole created several years earlier that nearly led to bankruptcy.

So I was aggressive in demanding documents from the city’s finance office, hoping to unearth the next Watergate.

At the same time, the secretary for the city’s Community Development Department, Eva Edwards, tried to set me up with a young woman named Nancy who worked in the city’s finance department as its payroll clerk. Neither of us, however, had much interest in that idea.

In fact, I was told by another City Hall insider that Nancy had made a comment that included “Steve Betts and his darn right-to-know law.” OK, she didn’t say “darn,” but it was close.

Six months later, Carol Itzel, a mutual friend of Nancy and myself, invited both of us over to her home. Unknown to me, she was trying to arrange for the two of us to meet in hopes of our going out on a date. Her master plan worked and before the night was over I asked Nancy out on our first date — dinner at the then Camden Harbor Inn.

First dates can be stressful and awkward, but we instantly became comfortable with each other. Our second date was dinner at the Senator Inn restaurant in Augusta, followed by a night-time stroll on the Rockland Breakwater.

Nancy would later tell me, however, that I won her heart a short time later when I was unable to go out with her one night because I had to be on a media panel questioning candidates for the Rockland City Council. Before I went to the debate, however, I dropped off a dozen long-stemmed red roses at the door of her third-floor apartment on Broad Street.

After coming home and seeing the flowers, Nancy came to the debate and watched. She remarked after the debate that I looked sharp in the three-piece suit that I was wearing.

Two months later I asked Nancy to marry me and on a rainy Saturday afternoon, April 30, 1983, we were married.

Our life together faced its first major challenge early on. Nancy became pregnant with triplets. She was ordered to stay in bed because of the high-risk nature of her multiple pregnancy. We were both frightened but excited over the prospect of raising three children.

But as often happens in life, events did not occur as planned. Nancy went into labor 12 weeks early. She was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which operated one of the most respected neonatal intensive care units in the country. But despite their heroic efforts, two of our children — Valerie Rae and Jessica Lynn — did not survive beyond their first day in the world. We had little time to grieve, however, because all our energies, thoughts and prayers focused on our surviving child, Jacquelyn Janelle.

Jacquelyn weighed only a little more than one pound and seemed even smaller with all the wires and medical equipment surrounding her. Jacquelyn was a fighter, however, and six weeks later she was strong enough to be transferred to the neonatal unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Another few weeks and she was brought to Penobscot Bay Medical Center. And soon after we had our now five-pound little girl home with us.

Nancy was the steady, common-sense voice in our family. She was the one to calm me down when the children — Jacquelyn and later, our son, Jonathan Stephen — would do something to drive me crazy. As the years went on, she didn’t have to say anything, she would simply give me a look of disapproval and I would immediately come back down to earth and not threaten the youngsters with permanent grounding.

She was the one to remember every relative’s birthday or anniversary. She was the one to buy my mother her birthday or Mother’s Day card and to pick out gifts for her (sorry, Mom). When I first introduced Nancy to my mother, my mother asked to have a few private words with me. She asked me if I really should be getting married that young. But soon my mother was won over by Nancy’s warmth and upbeat nature. Over the years, they drew closer and Nancy has become like a daughter to my mother.

Being the wife of a news reporter is not an easy job. I spent countless evenings covering City Council and school board meetings. There were times when the children’s only glimpse of Dad during the day would be when they saw him on television at a Council meeting. Nancy kept the home fires burning, however. She was the one to bake the cookies or brownies for some school fundraiser. She was the one to make the costumes for the children at Halloween.

But she never complained. She loved being a mother and taking care of the home.

She also loved to make our home beautiful. As soon as it appeared that the final killing frost had passed, she would make her annual pilgrimages to the garden shops and return to spend days planting flowers around the house.

Many years later, when our daughter blessed us with two grandchildren, we were both thrilled. Nancy had another opportunity to go shopping for a child. Every time we went out of town to visit relatives, we had to stop at a children’s clothing store and stock up on clothes for the following year.

Eight years ago, the word “cancer” entered our family. Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a lumpectomy, weeks of traveling to Bath for radiation, and numerous trips to receive chemotherapy at PBMC. And for four years, it appeared that she had beaten the disease.

But it was not to be. Life once again intervened in our plans when in August 2006 she was diagnosed with aggressive inflammatory breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. We were told from the start that she could not be cured, but that there were treatments available to try to slow down the cancer. All the research we did online indicated that her life expectancy would be no more than 18 months.

There were endless regimens of chemotherapy. Nancy did not complain. She would sit in a chair for hours at a time as chemicals were pumped into her veins, trying to hunt down the invading force. If the treatments were in the morning, she would go to work in the afternoon. If the treatments were in the afternoon, she would make sure to get to work early the following day.

Throughout this ordeal, Nancy insisted that family life should remain unaffected. She and I continued to care for our two beautiful granddaughters during the evenings when their mother worked. Their Nana continued to bake cookies with them and read stories in her reclining chair.

During the past few years, there were ups and downs with the cancer battle. Every several months she went through MRIs, CT scans, or PET scans. We held our breath each time, praying that the news would be positive. Shortly before Thanksgiving, however, the tests showed that the cancer had spread to her brain. There was an initial feeling of despair, but that lasted only for a day, as she simply said that she would push on as long as possible.

Again, there were the trips to Bath for radiation, this time for her brain. She insisted that Thanksgiving and Christmas not be impacted by the latest development. The children would not be told, she said, until after Christmas so that the holiday joy was not dampened.

Nancy gave up driving when she began her new round of radiation. But she did not give up work. She was in shortly after 7, would eat lunch at her desk, and be picked up at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Eventually, walking up or down stairs became more difficult, but I simply became her aide.

About six weeks ago, though, the long work days were too much for her. She called me one day and said she was unable to stand at her desk. I took her home for the afternoon and she decided not to give up work, but to cut back to mornings only. That continued for a little more than a month. Two weeks ago, her friends at City Hall organized a party to recognize her 31st anniversary with the city. Her former boss, Bob Armelin, now living and working in Pennsylvania, came up to be at the celebration.

Nancy was truly moved by the outpouring of affection. She enjoyed her job and the people she worked with over these many years.

Last week, she announced one morning that she was in such pain that she could not stand and would have to miss some work. The time had come to call hospice and these angels on Earth were over at our home within a few hours. Nancy was adamant that she wanted to return to work the following week, once they had controlled her pain.

But the decline became rapid and each day, her condition deteriorated. By the past weekend, she was having a difficult time talking, but would smile when a family member stopped by the house. She even gave me one of those looks when I made one of my ill-advised comments.

Nancy left this world at 12:30 on the morning of April 19, less than two weeks shy of our 27th wedding anniversary.

While our relationship was not love at first sight, it became a lifelong love story.

I am not the most religious of people, but I do believe there is a higher power in life. Every time you see a baby born or see a beautiful sunrise you realize that there has to be a greater power in our world.

And when I think of Nancy, I know that only God could have created such an angel.