The Wedding Guests
[3rd in a series of 4 posts.]
Just then I heard
what sounded like a song
from down the hall.
It was, in fact, my mother’s voice
(muffled by her bedroom door)
in morning prayer. One by one,
she lifted us by name to God.
I knew this habit to be true,
but hearing it brought a sense of awe
for things beyond our realm
and unspoken fear
for what life might have been
without her steadfast supplication.
I rose to put some coffee on,
and when the pot had sputtered its last sigh,
Mom was up to share a cup
and ask me what I had there in my lap.
And so began a conversation
that saw us through to lunch
and gave a glimpse
of how life’s yarn is spun and knit…
and how a Providential twist
can turn into the tie that binds.
I opened to the reception picture,
the most intriguing of them all.
There’s a clock on the wall
that says it’s nearly nine,
and in that moment
the basement of the church
is filled with shared contentment.
Mom pointed at the page.
“Doesn’t my dad look handsome there?
Look at Mumma, and your Dad’s mom,
and that’s Aunt Edith beside her.”
“Isn’t she the one who kicked
her underwear off the bridge?” I smiled.
“No. That was Aunt Dean” She laughed,
turning back a page to point her out
and obliged to tell the story once again.
“Jupiter! She was walking home
across the 10th Street Bridge
in downtown Port Huron—
not Military Street, the other one—
and right in the middle of the bridge,
her elastic snapped and down they dropped
like a parachute 'round her ankles.
Do you remember?” Mom laughed.
(I wasn’t there, of course,
but nodded so as not to break her thought.)
“On the spot she had to choose—
her dignity or her drawers?—
she could not have them both.
The coming traffic forced her call,
and with a flick of her less than dainty foot
she nonchalantly kicked her panties
through the railing on the bridge—
pshhhhew—and let them billow down
to the boats below. Black River’s
busy that time of year, you know.
And then she walked right on home
like nothing happened.”
“Enjoying the cool summer breeze,”I added,
since she’d left out that line.
“Yep. That’s what she said
whenever we made fun.
But you have to remember,
that was during World War II—
there was a shortage of rubber,
and they were chinsin’ on elastic.
My land! we couldn’t even buy stockings—
we had to draw hose seams
on the back of our legs with eyebrow pencil.
Between the air-raid drills and Hitler
and our loose underwear,
we ladies lived in constant fear.”
I’d heard the story
and its tie-in to the war
a hundred times before
(as I had the many that followed),
but it was wonderful
to hear Mom’s laugh
and the lilt in her voice again.
Part IV, "The Wedding Cake"