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| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| August 22, 2020 Views: 130|
Chapter 13 of the book Learning to Swim
by Raffaelina Lowcock
Throughout her childhood and teenage experiences she has never been prepared for the events that have led up to this day and she is determined to sustain whatever happiness is ahead.
The night before the wedding, I had a very bad headache. A friend, Jackie Summers, was at my house doing my nails and she was also wetting a cloth in cold water every so often and placing it on my forehead.
“Jackie, thank you for being here and doing my nails. This is so helpful."
“Anna, it’s my pleasure. Is your headache really bad?"
“No, the wet cloths are really helping and it’s almost disappearing.”
When Jackie left I went to bed, but sleep evaded me because there was so much whirling around in my head. Thoughts like... My mother and my relatives will not be coming to the wedding.
As I lay there, other thoughts... What if it rains how will all those guests fit in our house? And under all those layers of thought it dawned on me... How lovely it will be sleeping with Les’s arms around me.
My brother Michael was home and I could hear somewhat of a drone of conversation downstairs. My father and he were having a few drinks together. And then I heard a strange sound. Oh, no. I heard Michael sobbing, “But Puppa, how could she?”
This was strange because through all the turmoil about my mother, Michael had only been home once and that was when Mary got married. He seemed okay then, but now he sounded really upset. He had hardly shown any emotion back then, but I guess when you have a drink or two you give in.
As I lay there hearing his heartfelt sobs, I felt so bad and it reminded me of how my father was faring. After work on Saturday nights he went to the St. Lawrence Market and bought various meats and vegetables for Sunday's dinner. Then on Sundays he would start in the morning cooking our dinner.
He was a good cook. The thing was though, he would always have a cup of coffee near him and into that coffee he would add some sort of alcohol. He was smiling and happy and he would have the recorder going with Caruso or Gigli singing arias from very sad operas. After a few hours he would noticeably be drowning in sorrow and break down and sob. This was to be the scenario for many a Sunday. He would end up on the couch and he would not eat dinner.
Those were my thoughts the night before my wedding. And as I was dropping off, I thought... poor Michael, finally facing the truth.
In the morning when I awoke, the weather was fine. The day was sunshiny with clear skies.
There was a bit of a hitch that morning. I heard my father say, “Damn it!”
I went to his room and saw what he was cursing about. The tuxedo was way too big for him.
I said, “Don’t worry Puppa, just wear your own suit, it’ll be fine.”
“Yes, I guess that will have to do.”
Everything else ran smoothly. The photographer was on time. The limousine was on time. I was ready. My maid of honour, Angie, was ready. Puppa looked at me and said, “You look so beautiful.”
The look on his face when he said that brought tears to my eyes as I replied, “Thank you.”
I felt beautiful in my white embroidered organdy dress with a ruffled collar and three-tiered skirt over taffeta. The finger tipped veil was held by a close-fitting cloche and I was carrying a bouquet of deep red roses.
I looked at Angie in her mauve embroidered eyelet organdy over taffeta dress, ballerina length with her close-fitting cloche to match and her bouquet of pink roses and thought, how lovely she looks.
We made our way downstairs and out the front door. We piled into the limousine and drove off.
Just as our limousine was almost at St. Michael’s, turning off Queen Street, I saw my Aunt Betty get off a streetcar. I was stunned. She was going to the service for my wedding. This truly upset me. This was my favourite aunt. She should have been in a limousine like us, if things had been normal between us. The very fact that she had come all that way by streetcar rattled me to no end. Shades of Stella Dallas!
"Angie! Look, there's Auntie Betty. I feel so awful seeing her alone and coming by streetcar."
"Your right. It does feel bad. Do you think she'll talk to us?"
"I really have no idea, it's just so upsetting."
When we arrived at the church and were in the vestibule, I looked for my aunt but could not see too far into the chapel. As we were preparing to walk down the aisle, my sister Mary appeared. She looked so beautiful in a cocoa and white outfit. Her titian hair was very stylish under a white straw hat, but her beautiful face looked so pinched that I wondered if it had anything to do with my Aunt Betty. Mary then walked down the aisle, as my mother would have, and when she knelt down in the pew, she bent her head into her hands and began to sob.
It was so heartbreaking to see her in so much distress. I then looked down the aisle at Les and Ted Leach, waiting at the altar. I was shocked at how white Les looked. He looked sick and his jacket was kind of caught up on one side.
We walked down the aisle to the awaiting priest, Father Monahan. When he began to speak it was so fast you could hardly make out what he was saying. What was his hurry? I thought. Then I noticed the front of his garment was spattered with egg. What else? It was disgusting. When he finally said, “Do you Anna, take this man… I could not answer. Everything had overwhelmed me. There was quite a long silence and then murmurs in the church and suddenly I burst out crying. Once I released all my tensions by crying, I regained my composure and after a moment I very quietly said ,“I do”.
Despite the negative beginning the rest of the day went very smoothly. That evening we changed into our going away clothes. My outfit was a dress made of dimity. It was patterned with miniature lilacs and a filigreed collar. It had a thin purple velvet belt. My hat was a white straw cloche with a purple velvet band around the crown. Over that dress I wore a white crepe coat with purple rounded buttons just below the collar. My purse and shoes were purple.
I threw the bouquet; my friend Shirley Lewis caught it. We then got in a waiting taxi. When the taxi took off, we just sank back.
Les hugged me and said, “At last, just us. Anna, do you know how much I love you?"
“Yes, Les, I truly do, as I hope you know I love you too.”
"Anna, I know how you've missed having your mother at our wedding and I promise I will try to help you put some of this sadness behind us."
"Les, I don't want you to worry about me, I will be okay."
We stayed in each other's arms all the way downtown.
We booked into the Park Plaza and were escorted to our room. In our room we looked at each other in disbelief that we were finally there. We embraced and kind of fell on the bed while we kissed long and hard. It was so heavenly to be alone at last.
Les phoned room service and I went into the bathroom to change into my nightgown and negligee. Then he changed into his pajamas and robe. We had a lovely dinner in our room and champagne. We laughed about a few incidents that happened at the wedding but were exhausted and could hardly finish any of the meal or the champagne.
"Les I'm so tired, sorry but I can't keep my eyes open."
"Me too, and as we discussed, we'll take it slow. We have Mass in the morning and then after breakfast the limousine for the Resort. We should go to sleep now."
We had previously discussed these plans because of Les’s hernia. We fell asleep in each other’s arms.
The next morning, we went to the 8 o’clock mass at St. Basil’s Church, which is a few blocks away from the Park Plaza. I was surprised at how long and narrow it was and yet it was quite beautiful.
After mass we went to Child’s cafeteria, just down from the hotel, and had breakfast. We then got our things together, checked out and awaited our limousine.
I said, “How long a trip will this be Les?”
“Probably two or three hours. It depends on whether they will be picking anyone else up.”
We were both very content as we waited for the limousine and talked about what we would enjoy at the Resort.
The trip up to the Resort was very stilted and rather tense since all the passengers were strangers. Small talk was attempted but not too often.
We arrived at Bangor Lodge and after registration we were shown to our room. It was not a big room just a double bed and a bureau. I sat on the bed and lo and behold the springs sang. A loud creak accompanied every loud move. Oh no. Also, the bathroom was at the end of the hall and it was used by all. What does that tell you?
My sister Mary’s girlfriend, Agnes Carter was married in St. John’s Chapel at St. Michael’s Cathedral, an hour before our wedding. They were also at Bangor Lodge for their honeymoon. You could not plan anything so coincidental. We spent a lot of enjoyable time with them and both couples were teased constantly in many ways because we were newlyweds. All in all we had a happy week if not too romantic.
To be continued...
Anna is struggling between happiness and deep sadness on the brink of the biggest and what should be the happiest day of her life.
Stella Dallas was a movie about a somewhat ill bred mother who was not invited to her daughters wedding, but was outside in an obscure place observing it through a front window.
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