The Blue Dress
My parents decided to throw themselves a great big 40th wedding anniversary party several years ago. My mother’s rationale was that she may not be around for their 50th. She’d had a heart attack the year before, so I think she was feeling her own mortality. They did make it to 50, and beyond, and are still going strong.
My older brother, Tom, lived out of state and upon his arrival with his family for the big weekend, he stopped at our coffeehouse. At the time, my husband and I owned a super cool coffeehouse that provided zero income, but that’s another story. After hellos and hugs all around, my brother took me aside.
“Jode,” he stated, “Mom and Dad have been married 40 years.”
“Ya, so?” I said.
“I’m 41!” he practically yelled.
“Oh my god,” I said slowly, as I was trying to process what he just said. “Do they have the wrong year?” I asked.
“No!” He said, laughing at my naivete. “Mom was pregnant!”
“How do you know?” I questioned. He was looking at me like I was an idiot, but he’d already had time to think about this.
“Jodee, I figured it out. I know how old I am,” he said. “Didn’t you ever wonder why she got married in a blue dress?”
“No,” I said. “I thought she liked blue.” He rolled his eyes. I then said, “but why wouldn’t we have figured this out before?”
“Because they must have added a year all this time, until now.” he said.
I wasn’t bothered at all by the fact that my mother was pregnant when they got married. Who cares? I knew the pregnancy wasn’t the only reason. They were madly in love. My mother had told me stories of how they met. She was barely out of her teens when she came to California from Wisconsin to visit a friend who had moved here. It was an extended summer trip. She was to be here for six weeks so she got a temporary job as a car hop, and up drove my father. They were both smitten. Despite this, I still needed to hear the story from my mother, not so much for myself, but for her. She needed to know we were okay with this. Maybe she thought we wouldn’t put two and two together? I didn’t, but my brother did. Knowing my mother, she probably didn’t care at this point, but in the event she did, I needed to set her mind at ease. I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable about it. Later that night, we were all at my parent’s house when I asked her to come with me to her bedroom. We sat down on the bed.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” she said.
“Nothing, Mom. I just want to ask you something,” I started, “Tommy’s 41.”
“I know how old your brother is,” she said defensively.
I smiled. “So tell me the story.”
“The family made me add a year,” she said. By family she meant the Italians. Tommy was right. She went on. “I got tired of the lie. Who cares anymore, anyway? I just want to celebrate the correct anniversary.”
“No one cares, Mom. Good for you,” I said, and gave her a hug.
As we stood to leave the room she said, “for christ’s sake, didn’t you ever wonder why I got married in a blue dress?”