Thursday, February 03, 2005


Today is the anniversary of Smartmom's parents. February 3rd. The date is etched in her mind. She and her sister would go to the same gift shop year after year to buy an anniversary gift for them. West Town House smelled of bath soap and sachet. It was just a block and a half from the Riverside Drive apartment. They'd browse for an hour or more. And with only four dollars, they'd find something to buy: a stone paper weight or a letter opener, which the owner would gift wrap in green paper and a black ribbon bow.

Smartom's parents aren't married anymore. They've been separated since 1976. But February 3rd still stops her short. And while they've been separated for longer than they were together, February 3rd means only one thing: the beginning of something that later came to an end.

Groovy Grandma showed OSFO her wedding album a few weeks ago. A large, white, leather-bound book, the black and white photographs present Smartmom's parents on their ceremonial day. In a simple and elegant, calf-length gown, Groovy Grandma looks like Audrey Hepburn; her hair is close-cropped like Hepburn's too.

Groovy Grandpa, with no trace of the beard that would later define him, looks pleased with himself and his bride. Their parents gather around them – mythical parents, they are all dead now. They look happy for this union, for this coming together.

Later, OSFO said, "Grandma doesn't look like herself," Maybe she didn't recognize her 78-year old grandmother as a beautiful young bride. Maybe she was surprised to see her grandparents together; she never seen them that way. It probably seemed strange; a little out of whack.

The separation came as a surprise, dramatic as it was. The rupture was sudden: suitcases packed; black garbage bags, filled with men's clothing, tossed. All traces of him were banished from the apartment; an anguished wife's ill-fated attempt at an exorcism.

Smartmom was only seventeen, a senior in high school, on the cusp of going away. It was awful to see her family bi-furcated. She was in the throes of first love, first sex, her future. Now this?

Like an ostrich, Smartmom buried her head in her own sandy concerns while her mother grieved and her father sublet a studio on the other side of town.

And when her first love decided he didn't love her after all, she bifurcated too. β€œDon't leave me,” she cried pathetically for days. "It's gonna take a miracle to make me love someone new cause I'm crazy for you,” Laura Nyro sang, the song played over and over on the record player in the living room.

But he left anyway.

February 3rd is just another day. But for someone whose family doesn't exist anymore, Smartmom will always honor the beginning of something that later came to an end.


At 4:12 PM, Blogger jonesy said...

At least you know when their anniversary is. My mother refuses to speak about my father (the sperm donor as she calls him) who passed away when I was 17.

You should honor this day, and also remember the impact it had on you. And of course think of OSFO and TS and Hepcat.

I think these things are what terrify me about marriage.

Thinking of ya from down south.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

a very touching piece. The date, february 3rd does stop me in my tracks as well. A faint memory of an important day - and then I let that thought pass... thanks for the reminiscence.

At 12:57 AM, Blogger bill naka said...

Help! I am lost. I was searching for gift for her and somehow ended up here. How that happened I don't know, however I do like your Blog a lot. Would you mind if I add your Blog to my favorites page so others can visit?


Post a Comment

<< Home