My Mother’s Memory of Her Wedding Day

I remember your remembrance of January 5,
Learned only from your telling of The Little Church Around the Corner
And perhaps—do I really remember—a faded photograph
Of a bride in short white dress and veil,
a groom slender then in a blue serge suit—
or is this how I wished it to have been
when you told me that you had been in love,
had even started his cigars in your mouth
and lit them to pass them to him as he steered
the old Chevy on Sunday drives
when the Parkway was new
and the cemetery it weaves between
was not so crowded.
I remember thirty years later when he died
And was buried in that cemetery
and you were so angry at him
you would not let them carve his first name on his tombstone,
Only his last name. And yet you listed his name—never yours
In the telephone directory for nearly twenty years
Until bent with arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and finally
a broken bone, you left for a nursing home.
Now both—your name and his– are on that tombstone,
And forgetting my own memories,
I remember your remembrance of your wedding day,
Your way of telling that you had not yet lost hope.
Today is January 5, and I want you both to know
That I remember what she remembered then,
And while I can, and do, I remember
She remembered hope.

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About inkpaintwords

A feminist writer and artist with a penchant for all things French, living in Washington DC. My love of language led me, indirectly, to my pleasure in gardening, drawing and watercolor. It began with a book, a collection of New Yorker garden columns by Katherine White, wife of its founding editor E.B.White. Her enthusiastic appraisal of the literary merit of various garden catalogs led me to collect and keep her favorites as well as to hoard with them some more recently-emerged seed, bulb and seed catalogs. The beautiful catalogs inspired me to little by little turn our entire front lawn (our home had a wooded ravine close behind) into a garden. That grew into a lovely site with two simple arches, a gliding bench on a little sitting patio and modest slate paths winding through beds of shade lovers and whatever plants supposedly in need of full sun that I could manage to coax into colorful healthy bloom. A curiosity about color and color theory emerged as I became keenly interested in impressionist painters; that interest merged in some way with my urge to garden. I acquired more than one book about Monet’s garden and gardens of other impressionist painters, both French and American. One day I picked up a magazine for painters, and found inside an article about a painter I’d known. Among examples of her splendid watercolor paintings was her watercolor of her garden at that time. Suddenly I could think of nothing more exciting than painting my garden. I enrolled in her watercolor class in The Art League in Alexandria, VA. The influence that the collection of Katherine White’s columns about the literary merits of certain garden catalogs has had on my life has come full now. Ink, Paint & Words combines what has become an obsession with drawing and watercolor with my passion for language. Yes, I still garden. A table full of blooming potted plants sits on my apartment patio, backed by an ivy covered fence with park trees behind. My patio, and my larger environment of Washington DC, together provides wonderful vistas for drawing and painting. For a number of years annual trips to France gave me and my companions extravagantly colorful panoramas and charming tableaux for brush and pen. And yes, now I’ve painted in Monet’s gardens several times. But that, as they say, is another story.
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