Marty and I were married in the gray stone Gothic church in which I had been christened, received my First Communion, and graduated from the eighth grade. But these were not my nostalgic memories as I stood quaking in the rear of the church, clutching my father’s arm, with a virginal tulle veil over my face and a bouquet of white roses and stephanotis de-petaling itself in my trembling right hand.
As I waited for the opening bars of the traditional Lohengrin wedding march, I calmed myself by counting the house. Reassured that the sides of the aisle were evenly divided, indicating that both families had about the same number of friends and relatives, I sighed and began the long cruise down the pristine white runner. Waiting at the altar were four celebrants, my uncle, Monsignor Hollins Brooks, my professor, Monsignor Robert Kline and Monsignor Timothy Mullen, my parents’ good friend. And, of course, there was Monsignor Willie Sauer, our pastor and the celebrant of the wedding Mass. On the sidelines stood my three attendants to the left, and a pale wraith that I recognized as my future husband, Marty, and his father who was also Marty’s best man. The five groomsmen completed the semi-circle that stood waiting.
My father was a member of the parish church choir, and he had insisted that his fellow choir members sing the harsh German libretto of Lohengrin, which they did with Wagnerian gusto. This was definitely overkill, I felt, but it was probably the only decision he got to make, and he was paying the bill.
My tiny mother, in blue lace mother-of-the- bride elegance, was an emotional wreck. I had selected the date of June 6, the first Saturday of that traditional wedding month, because I secretly wanted to be the first bride out of the starting gate. There had been many engagements announced during the spring of our senior year. In the early 1950s in a Catholic college, it was considered important to march from the Baccalaureate to the chapel, with as little intervening time as possible for independent living. My graduation preceded my wedding by four days, and my mother had to contend with bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, and out-of-town guests in a frenzy of hospitality and entertaining.
From this point in the ceremony, I have virtually no memory, and have to rely on photographs and reports from others concerning the marriage ceremony itself, the long drive to the Candlelight Lodge for the elaborate dinner reception, and the departure for our wedding trip in Marty’s father’s new Chevrolet.
Hopefully, the memories will return when I enter the next phase of my life — senility. I consider it a fair trade-off.