I hope this little story brings a smile to your heart and reminds you that there are no small encounters, no coincidences, and no love that cannot overcome great obstacles. Some relationships are destined to endure. This is one.
My mother passed away nearly 10 years ago, my father has been gone for 8 now. Their love story lives on. At my son’s most recent dental appointment, he heard his grandparent’s romantic story from the dental assistant! The assistant remembers meeting Nick’s grandfather more than a decade ago, at a different dental office in town, and she has never forgotten him and this story. If I picked up the phone today and called my dad’s florist or any of the friends he knew later in life, each would remember this story told by a romantic “old” man. Here it is, in honor of my parent’s true anniversary.
Richard (Dick) and Vera met on the Vernal Equinox, March 20, 1937, during the height of the depression, when they were both students at Uniontown High School, Uniontown, PA.
My dad was a scholar; my mom an exotic beauty. My dad’s maternal lineage “landed” in the new world in 1640, a mere generation after the Mayflower. My mom arrived as an immigrant from Northern Italy when she was 7-years-old, her father wisely leaving his beloved homeland because of the rise of fascism. The bank crisis and depression hit Uniontown before the rest of the nation, but that’s a different story. Today’s story is a love story.
My dad was on the high school “debate team” and my mom was an usher in the auditorium for an interscholastic competition. Fortunately my dad didn’t spot her until after his debate; I think he may have been speechless. As he describes it, nothing in his life came close to the experience of meeting my mother.
Let’s see if I can recall the story as dad told it:
I was on my high school debate team and Vera was an usher for our Spring competition. It was the first time I noticed her; our high school was large and it was easy to get lost in the crowd. I had never seen anyone more beautiful. Her smile and grace enchanted me. During intermission, I boldly asked her if she wanted to join me for refreshments. We found ourselves in an empty classroom and opened the window to allow in the fresh, spring air. Vera leaned out the window and a light breeze caught her auburn hair. The scent of her was intoxicating. She was playful and laughed easily. I was madly in love.
I asked if I could walk her home and she said that her parents would not allow it. She had to go with her brother. When I asked “who’s your brother?” she answered. I was stunned and swallowed hard. I HATED her brother. He was Italian and obnoxious. He always needed to be the center of attention with his gags and horseplay. In that moment of falling in love, my prejudice and hatred fell away. In that moment the only thing that mattered was my heart bursting over with love for this girl.
Every year I buy daffodils for Vera on the first day of spring, our true anniversary.
My Uncle Hermes, who my dad proclaimed to hate until the day he met mom, became one of his best friends. Though my mom and her siblings learned impeccable English quickly with no perceptible accent, her parents did not. Dad learned fairly fluent Italian, the only “Anglo” who “married in” to the family who took the time and trouble to learn. I believe he was my grandmother’s favorite “in law”.
For many years I wasn’t particularly aware of my parents wedding anniversary, they never made a fuss about it. But I could never forget their true anniversary, because the daffodils always appeared on March 20th and there was a special “energy” of love, hope and renewal in the air.
My parents stayed married, to the astonishment of their children and extended family. Their relationship was always fiery and often unkind. I can remember screaming at them as a teenager to just go ahead and get a divorce; their arguments were ugly and hurtful. I had a conversation recently with my only remaining relative of their generation, my mom’s sister, Aunt Lil. She said none of their siblings could understand what kept them together; they never seemed to agree about much of anything except arguing. As Aunt Lil reflected on their relationship, she could accept that this was just the way they communicated and realized that somehow it worked for them. I like her perspective.
Perhaps it was Richard’s romantic nature that brought them together and Vera’s fire that kept their love alive. Perhaps it was that they met exactly when and how they did, on the first day of Spring, both seeing something in the other that inspired them to be more, to live, grow and stay together forever.
In honor of their undying love, my husband and I married on March 20th seven years ago.
I feel my parents smiling today. They are enjoying the daffodils overflowing in the vase on my table. As I breathe in their fragrance, I remember.
Wishing you happy Spring, happy love, happy heart.
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. Happy Wedding Anniversary my Love.