28: Two Women in Black

28: Two Women in Black

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

Two Women in Black

What the daughter does, the mother did.

~Jewish Proverb

“You’re not wearing that to school!” I yelled at my daughter, Mary.

“Why not? It’s clean,” she replied.

“Because no daughter of mine is going out dressed all in black. That’s all you wear lately. Every day. Black, black, black!”

“Oh, Mom, I like black. It’s what all the kids are wearing.”

Yes, with the right accessories and at the right time, a “little black dress” COULD be very cool. I smiled, remembering how I’d gotten married in one the night Mary’s father and I ended up eloping instead of going to the theater.

I jumped at the slamming of the back door as Mary ran off to school. For a tiny freshman, she sure could slam a door.

My two older children were angels, but when it came to Mary we clashed on almost everything. My mother called her “Little Mary Sunshine,” but when it came to her and me, it was mostly stormy weather.

Mary wasn’t a bad egg, just very independent, willful, and outspoken. She had definite views on everything. Oh, and did I mention she was stubborn? I could coax my older two to do almost anything, but Mary always stood her ground. So, once again we were in our usual stance, at odds with one another.

Despite my begging and pleading, I couldn’t get Mary to budge on her clothing choices. Then Mary’s “Year of Darkness,” as I nicknamed it, stopped abruptly when school ended for the year. I breathed a sigh of relief. After all, I had a lot to be thankful for; she hadn’t gotten into drugs, alcohol or fallen in with a bad crowd.

As Mary got older, we seemed to become more in tune. I actually began to envy her independence. When she finished high school, she got her own apartment and began classes at the local community college at night, while working full-time during the day.

The years rolled by, and she acquired roommates who came and went along the way. Some were “bad boys” who wanted a meal ticket; others were girlfriends down on their luck. Mary was generous with whatever she could share, but one thing remained her own: Mary was true to herself.

Although Mary dated a lot, she was still single at thirty. It takes a special man to want a woman who will stand up for herself at any cost. Then she met Gary, or Bart as his friends call him and Mary began to change. Oh, she still kept her own counsel, but she softened around the edges. I actually found myself asking her opinion on matters. We met for dinner every couple of weeks, and I truly began to treasure her company.

One Saturday night when Mary had been dating Bart for about two years, we got a late-night phone call.

“Hi, Mom, you’ll never guess what: I’m married! Bart and I eloped to Las Vegas. There, I said it. Are you hurt?”

“No… yes… I don’t know. Dad and I really wanted to be at your wedding, you know.”

“I know, but Bart and I have been planning on getting married for a long time. And then tonight, he said, ‘Let’s go to Vegas,’ and here we are. I’m so happy!”

“Well, as long as you love each other,” I replied.

“Oh, I do love him, and he loves me. I gotta go now, Mom. I just had to call and tell you the news. I love you, and give Dad a kiss for me.” Her voice choked with emotion.

“Yes, of course I will,” I said, gently replacing the phone in its cradle.

“Well, our daughter just eloped,” I announced to my sleepy-eyed husband lying beside me.

“About time those two got hitched,” he said and turned over.

The next night, we were just about to leave for Sunday dinner at a local restaurant when the phone rang.

It was Mary.

“You’re home already?” I asked.

“Of course, Mom,” came the reply. “We DO have to work tomorrow,” our newly married daughter reminded me.

“How about going out for some dinner with us?” I urged.

Mary and Bart were at the door, arm in arm, before we knew it. There were hugs and congratulations all around.

The dinner moved along at a fast clip with Mary and Bart taking center stage. The happy couple relived their exciting weekend: the hurried plans to go to Vegas, renting a limo, calling their best friends to meet them there, going to the Graceland Wedding Chapel. Mary giggled as she confessed, “And I got married in black, Mom, just like you,” and with that she whipped out photos taken with a minister who looked a lot like Elvis.

I stared at the pictures. There she was… radiant, glowing, and gorgeous — in a BLACK GOWN.

“Black? Who gets married in black?”

“Well, Mom, according to the stories I’ve heard, YOU did, and look how long you’ve been married. Getting married in black is a good-luck charm.”

I will always remember what Mary said that night nine years ago, but this year our dual anniversary will be a different sharing time. It will be a bittersweet day. Paul passed away five months ago, and Mary and Bart are joining me for dinner. Mary and I will wear black to the restaurant — Mary glowing with happiness and faith in the years that lie ahead… mine for the forty-six years that are now becoming a memory, a memory of a wonderful marriage that began with eloping in a black dress, just like my daughter’s.

~Sallie A. Rodman

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