To this day Mother has been asking herself, what made her do it. Not the marriage itself – not why she married my Valentino-esque dad, but why she wore grey. She knew that she wanted a Ceil Chapman dress (a chic name at the time, and now worth up to $1,300 on eBay) – she and her best friend both agreed vehemently that Chapman was far superior to Edith Head – but why she chose grey she doesn't understand. Even though the color and fabric turned to solid light in the sun; even though it became like living silver as she walked down the steps into that bright February afternoon in 1951, she can't accept the color.
She tells me that the only thing they got right was the bouquet. Lush and cascading with ribbons and flowers, as she held it the final white blossoms nearly reached her ankles.
I'm looking at old photos, hoping they will help me piece together what I've been told about this day. I know that the wedding was simple but crowded with families and children: all different, yet all possessed of the same nobility of goodness. There was warmth and celebration and a joy that held its loved ones close in its strong embrace.
The facts about my parents are these: Mother came from a Russo-Jewish family, her parents immigrating from Russia in the late teens. Father's family was Italian-Catholic. His mother was from Arizona, his father was born in a town called Lago, located in Calabria, Italy. Mother is fair, Father is dark. The contrast was striking and outstandingly handsome.
I don't know how they met: whether it was via frirends, or whether their paths crossed at work. The latter seems unlikely: He was a DJ: playing jazz and wearing razor-shouldered jackets, and she worked behind the counter at Robinson's, abiding by the – in my opinion wholly respectable and understandable – company rule of always wearing white gloves to work.
However it happened, they met, and though their backgrounds were quite different, they quickly found that they had something in common. They were both as mad as Hatters: eccentric, buoyant, unconventional, special and beautiful.
My parents' wedding anniversary was three weeks ago. And, sadly, I completely forgot about it. I was oblivious to the faint scent of orange blossoms as it circled by for the 57th time. (Boyfriend didn't know the date in the first place, so he's excused.)
So I wrote this, as poor a gift as it is, to show how my roots grew, how they became bonny trees and bloomed, and were fine and would forever turn their faces upwards to the sun.