January 31. This marks my parents’ wedding anniversary. Seventy years ago today they tied the knot. Mama was a Girl Scout, Daddy a Marine…they knew their knots. This one may have gotten a little frayed around the edges but still it lasted 58 years. Fifty-eight years…until the day my father died. At home in his own bed with his wife by his side.
Edie and Dick. Yin and Yang. They were a pair. And they were tied tight. Right over left and through, left over right and through. A good old fashioned square knot.
I came along late in the game but I heard the story of their wedding over and over. Mama loved to tell stories, especially if she was involved in them. And I loved all things about weddings. A pretty dress, flowers and cake that’s ten times better than any birthday cake. All that and a handsome man who will love you for EVER.
And don’t forget the PRESENTS!!!
So here’s the story AS I KNEW IT. It was a small do. An intimate gathering of family and close friends. The early afternoon reception was a simple one. Cake and coffee. Maybe some champagne. Because I can’t imagine a wedding without champagne. It was at her sister’s house. The same sister whose dress she wore. The honeymoon was a night in Manhattan. Fancy dinner. Fancy hotel. Fancy that.
Oh, and it rained.
And that’s what I was going to write. They fell in love, got married and did the ’till death do us part’ thing 58 years later. Because that was the STORY. Until I went through the folder labeled Richard. Daddy’s papers. I was looking for the menu from the restaurant. I saw it years ago and thought I’d amuse you with photographic proof of what two bucks could buy you in 1942. If memory serves me right–and these days it doesn’t aways–a full course lobster dinner plus drink.
I didn’t find the menu. But I found some interesting things. And, as I went through them, all sorts of questions began popping up.
It began with the envelope addressed to my father. It was plain white. Unadorned with anything save the simple return address. The White House. The letter inside was on matching stationery. It contained a hastily scrawled note from my father’s brother. Dated January 29. Two days before the wedding. He didn’t know if he could make it. No one was getting any time off.
There was a war going on. The whole damn world was shooting this way and that. And my uncle had a first row seat for the duration. Secret Service. OSS. Army Counter Intelligence.
He never made the wedding. Daddy’s friend stood in as his best man instead. One of the honorary uncles of my childhood. But I never put two and two together, never realized that’s why he was the best man and not my uncle. Not until I read the letter.
And then I realized there were a lot of things I didn’t know. A lot of questions I wanted to ask.
But there’s no one left to answer them.
I’ve always looked at the wedding portrait and seen my parents. Mom-and-Daddy-yin-and-yang-in-their-fancy-best. Young but old, because they came before me.
My uncle’s note sent the story I knew spinning off in another direction.
It was raining that day. Hard. Cold and blustery. Pearl Harbor was a little more than a month in the past. We declared war on Japan. Hitler declared war on us. Shock. Fear. Anger. Rage. Bravado. But happy days? I don’t think so.
I look at that photo now and see a couple of kids, 26 and 28. Just a little older than mine are today. Kids who were striving for normal when the world was going bat shit crazy around them. Kids who pledged their forevers together when there was no guarantee of tomorrow.
I think about the simple reception. Hear the undercurrents of small talk that never made it to the story. People smiling and raising a toast to the happy couple while in the back of their minds wondering….All the men in that room old enough to serve, did. Four uncles. And my Dad. The Army. The Marines. Europe. North Africa. The Pacific.
From the concentration camps to the streets of Nagasaki after the bomb.
They all served. They all came home. And they never, EVER, talked about it.
Mama was the story keeper in our house. She touched on a little of everything and told them over and over again. But like the story of her wedding, they were the bare bones, not the meat. And when I took care of her in her later years I heard them so often I stopped listening.
And I’m sorry I did. I regret they became so familiar I tuned them out. I wish I’d dug deeper.
Because she wanted to tell her story. But she didn’t know how.
And I didn’t know enough to ask the right questions.
Hello my sweetums…I’ve got such a treat in store for you! Really, a TREAT. Jump up and down. Get all excited. And then go grab some dark chocolate.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
And while I’m waiting I’ll gaze adoringly at Precious Man Dog. The real deal is curled up against my thigh, crowding the laptop. But since there isn’t room here for all of you, the photo will have to do.
And yes, he is a cute as he looks.
He also loves me unconditionally. Totally. Worships me, even. And that’s why (ta ta drumroll please) Bean, AKA PMD, is on this week’s bliss list.
Bliss list? Yes, B.L.I.S.S. Everyday things that rock my world and make me smile with appreciation. And gratitude. Because gratitude is a big deal. And, umm…Universe? About that lotto win, the one next week? The one I’d be most grateful for? That would make the list for sure.
Now, back to the chocolate. Break off a small piece. Don’t eat it, savor it. Challenge yourself to experience it with all five senses. Take your time. Take as much time as you need. And when your senses are so full of chocolate goodness you’re about to explode, take a nibble. And let it Melt. On. Your. Tongue.
And then there’s the tree sweetened oranges. The oh so juicy, oh so sweet, eagerly awaited bring-on-the-first-hard-freeze addition to the produce aisle. The most insane burst of citrus in the world. Oh yeah…these suckers are on my list for sure. My bliss list.
Which is going to be a regular feature here at Arty Life. Because art is all about opening your eyes and SEEING the world. Appreciating the ordinary. Elevating the ordinary.
Well, Liv Lane, of Choosing Beauty fame, is inviting everyone to participate in the little bliss list. According to Liv, it’s “a chance for all of us to celebrate the little things that brought us hope and happiness this week.” She believes that “when we focus on the sweet stuff of life, the sweet stuff multiplies. And by sharing those small gifts in our lives, we help others notice the gifts in theirs.”
Well, I’m all for that! So every Friday (yes, I KNOW this is Saturday) every Friday I will share a list what was good that week. Of the little things that made me stop and appreciate the moment. And I hope you’ll share your lists in the comments section. And once I get the technical stuff figured out I’ll have links to other blogs who are doing the same thing. Notice the gifts and spread the luuuuuuuv.
But I’m not done yet. There’s still some bliss to share.
Like the satisfaction of a day spent in making art. A WHOLE day!!! These are works in Progress. Time well spent in Studio Grande painting in the zone.
After a day on my feet wielding a brush, a well deserved snuggle with Studio Quat.
And always, Miss Munchkin Fairy Princess. In my thoughts and heart even when she’s not visiting her Grandma.
Friend Christina is cleaning. That means if I’m not careful, if I have my back turned or am otherwise engaged, I will discover all sorts of CRAP on my desk. Just. Like. That.
Some of it I even want. Some of it I can use with my class. But the pirate eye patch? No. No no no no no! Even if Johnny Depp wore it once upon a time. Which he did not.
I took the empty pencil tins. The nice ceramic jar for brushes. And half a dozen little bitty used canvasses that someone will be happy to paint over. But I really scored on the books. Collage anyone? Altered anything?
Disclaimer: I don’t cut up beautiful photography books. I photocopy them and then do the cutting.
Is this a beautiful little booty or what? Yum yum yum, I know there’s something I can do with this.
And I’m always a sucker for mother and child bonding.
Oh look, Mummy…those people are on a floating booty barge!
This style is called Worn. Looks like it’s been through the washing machine. It’s an upgrade purchased through the app. Another 99 cents. I really like it, maybe not for this image. Something where the action is lower on the page.
There are hundreds of variations I can do with this image alone. Picking only one is a challenge. I see using any of these as a transfer added to a painting. Or used as an element in a collage. Or whatever else my heart desires.