Next year St. Patrick’s Day will arrive and I’ll have my master’s degree. Next year my youngest will be 18 going on 19…next year I’ll look back on this year and think – time has gone by so fast. Where did last year go? Next year at this time I’ll have lost that last 30 pounds, and maybe next year Mike H. and I will still see each other except it’ll be deeper…Next year, I’m not sure what I’ll do or where I’ll be. I like to think I’ll live in the same place, have the same job…pretty much the same life. But things happen – people come and go and I don’t know what will happen. I look out at the bare branches of the trees and think – soon the leaves will begin to sprout on them. Last night when I walked up the steps of my apartment, I could smell the orange blossoms and something else sweet – like flowers – in the warmish evening air. Spring is almost here…time for new beginnings, change. I’m not sure exactly where the changes will take me – but I know it’s all exciting and new like when I stood there on that stage as Woodham’s with those professional musicians and I sang and played my acoustic guitar even…it was terrifying, but I finally did it. I gathered up the courage and got myself up there – it took Beatles Jam Night for me to do that. Suddenly songs that I knew well all felt like a blur and if Mike Halloran hadn’t suddenly slipped in to the right of me, serenading us with those beautiful harmonies, if that other dude hadn’t slipped in behind me with the lead guitar riffs I wasn’t able to fill in…then maybe I wouldn’t have made it through the song, through “She Loves You” which I had to sing with all of my heart. When I sing “She Loves You,” I’m actually singing to my mother…
And now I can picture my other in her beautiful wedding gown on October 6, 1956, the day she married my Dad. Just last Sunday I plucked the small wedding album with my mother’s unmistakable handwriting listing the names of the entire wedding party in the front from my Dad and sister who were arguing over it.
“You said I could have it Dad, but then you took it back!” my sister said.
“But – but I needed this.”
The photo album had been buried underneath ten years of papers and magazines, and my dad had begun to believe the photo album was lost forever in the midst, but we came across it after endless trips to the dumpsters with bags filled with papers. We were all sweaty and tired when we found it, and first y sister and then my dad flipped through the browned pages with the well-preserved black and white photos slipped into plastic.
While Dad and my sister argued over the wedding album, I grabbed it and said, “I’m going to scan the photos!”
They both agreed that was a good idea and nodded in agreement. Not only did I stop the argument, I also was the lucky one to go home with the album, to study its pages and look at pictures I’ve never seen – of my mom, my dad, my grandma and even my great grandma who was still alive then – and my other grandma as well.
On the first page, there was a photo of my mother looking into the mirror and you can see her smiling face in the mirror as my Grandma helps Mom with her veil…they’re both together in the mirror smiling. I look at the photo for a long time, remembering my mother and my grandma…and admiring how beautiful they were, just as I admired how beautiful Mom and Dad were. They looked like movie stars and the church wedding looked so wonderful and theatrical.
Next year it’ll be different, Mom, I thought. Next year I’ll make you proud…