Monday, January 07, 2008

A Little Family History

Yesterday, my little nuclear family attended mass with various members of my extended family because my parents' parish offered petitions and a blessing for their forty-fifth anniversary. That's right -- my parents got hitched in January of 1963, before Kennedy was shot, before hippies, before Woodstock, before microwaves. I think they might've even hired one of those Fred Flinstone cars to take them to the church.

I find their story fascinating. I suppose all of us at one point must find our parents' union fascinating, for it ultimately resulted in us, yeah? But let me try to capture it, just a little.

In June of 1961, Mom was graduated from high school. Fresh out of school and raised in a blue collar area of suburban Baltimore, Mom needed a paycheck. The job search began. Primarily, she looked for jobs close to home, and there was a Help Wanted for an ice cream shop not too far from the row house she shared with her parents, sister, brother, and multiple cousins (several of whom, I believe, had babies).

She walked through the door of the ice cream shop, and found a handsome bespectacled fella with salt-and-pepper hair. That was my Dad. He interviewed her, and in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the chemistry, he hired her. All through the summer they worked together, and my mother apparently really, really wanted to go out with him. There was one sticking point, though. She was not yet eighteen, and Dad was thirty. Being the law-abiding citizen that he is, Dad decided it'd be best to wait 'til Mom was of legal age. I know, I know, it sounds creepy. But this is in 1961, folks, when women were accustomed to getting married straight outta high school. Luckily for both of them, Mom turned eighteen at the end of August, and they could begin their romance in earnest.

Apparently, things got serious pretty quickly. My evidence? Back in those days, in order for a Catholic's marriage to be on the up-and-up, he could only marry another Catholic. Mom was a Lutheran. She knew she wanted to marry Dad early on. She asked him to marry her, in fact (must be where I get it from). So, Mom jumped on the conversion train, which took about six months. This caused some hard feelings between Mom and her parents, and she was a little worried that they wouldn't come to the wedding.

But, come they did. Mom and Dad got hitched eighteen months after they first met, fifteen months after they started dating, a few months after Mom converted. They were slow about one thing, though. Or rather, Dad was. He decided that his jalopy wasn't spiffy enough for the big day. He was elbow deep in suds...AS HIS PARENTS LEFT FOR THE CHURCH. So, Dad was late to his own wedding.

It kind of set a pattern for life -- guess who arrived at the church just before mass began yesterday?

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