Degrees of Marriage

Memories are those precious jewels of the past.  They often come to light when we least expect them.  They bob to the surface sometimes in murky waters, sometimes crystal clear.  The sound of a blinker.  The smell of lilacs.   Those trigger memories of precious moments in my past.  

As I sort through boxes of old photos, I find Mom’s wedding album.  I remember the first time I found this album.  I was probably five or six.

Do I want to open this?  Mom isn’t here to tell me about each photo like she did when I was a young girl.  We had cuddled together on my bed where she told me the tale of her special day while I stared at the pictures of the princess in her white gown.  It looked like a magical day with the sun shining and no clouds to be seen.   People smiled and celebrated the bride and groom’s happiness.   

I sit with the album in hand and open the cover. There are not a lot of photos but each one depicts ‘the day in the life of ...’

The beautiful bride adjusts her veil as she stares at her reflection in the mirror.  Her mother smiles at her as she helps her dress. Her sister hands her the bridal bouquet.  The bride straightens her father’s boutonniere.  Her father escorts her down the aisle.  The smiling couple walk arm in arm to the back of the church. 

The final two photos show the reception in Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard.  I used to sit on the steps at the back of the house staring at the lawn.  Daydreaming.  I could see the guests progress from eating to toasting to dancing as the afternoon faded into evening.  I imagined Mom and Dad celebrating their marriage as they danced much like the Captain and Maria did in The Sound of Music.  Okay, more likely Elvis and not an old folk song but no doubt with love shining in their eyes.

I love the photo of Mom in her tea length wedding gown.  She looked like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.  I think about Mom’s dress.  It’s packed in the original box tied shut with string aged to a pale gold.  I want to open the box but I fear the dress has deteriorated to nothing but moth eaten white scraps of cloth.  But then again it could be in perfect condition just like on the day she wore it.  I may never know.  I just know I cannot throw it away.  It’s something of Mom when she was a young woman with hopes and dreams.

I close the album.  It was a lovely walk down the aisle. It’s almost as if I was there sitting in a pew watching romance unfold.  Mom was 19 when she found her Prince Charming.  She was attending North Dakota State University.  She successfully received her M-R-S degree.  Unfortunately they don’t offer diplomas for that discipline.  But she did get a marriage certificate.  So all was not lost.