Rocky take-off. Rocky landing.


Today is the anniversary of my mother and father’s wedding in 1949. I’m not sure why I thought of it just now. I haven’t thought about it for a long time. My father died 45 years ago. My mother has since survived a second marriage, her second husband dying 2 1/2 years ago.

I am told that after my parents left by train for their honeymoon to Chicago and the wedding party was still going on, a man after whom I am named and whom my mother called “Papa,” died on the dance floor. He was a self-appointed grandfather to my mother and her sisters after my mother’s own father died in a train crash when she and her twin sister were just 5 years old. “Papa” said he would not die until all his “girls” were married. He was true to his word because my mother was the last of the sisters to be married. My mother and father were not told of his passing until after their return to Toledo.

My mother shared that she was so nervous on the day of her wedding that she hadn’t eaten all day and when she and my father got to Chicago, they had a big steak dinner which my mother threw up later that night. Apparently my father must have been nervous too. He fell down a flight of stairs in the Palmer House (where they were staying) and hurt his back.

A rocky take-off.

So strangely or not so strangely, on this grey and blustery winter day, I am reminded of the relationship from which I and my siblings emerged— a complicated and uneven relationship, if not passionate and dramatic. When I asked my mother if she remembered today was her wedding anniversary with Dad, she said she didn’t recall it.

Rocky take-off. Rocky landing.

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