Forty-six years ago my sister fell down a flight of stairs…
We were on the way to my wedding. Our parents had already made their way out to the car, my sister and I were the last to leave our parents' apartment when she tripped over the gown bag that she was carrying. She laid crumpled at the bottom of the flight of marble steps between the second and third floors in the Bronx apartment house where we were raised. I don't remember if it was my brother-in-law or me that ran to get my dad.
While she laid there in obvious pain, her concern was that she was making me late to my wedding. While my dad and her husband made an assessment about whether she needed to get to the hospital, I ran back into my folks' apartment to use the phone. In the years before the popularity of cell phones, I hoped that someone would answer the phone at the catering hall – no answer and no answering machine to leave a message. I was so frantic that my fiancé wouldn't wait.
Determined not to ruin my wedding my sister argued with my dad and her husband that she just needed help to get to her feet. Leaning on the two of them, she managed to hobble her way down to the car. Fighting traffic all the way, we finally reached the site of the planned wedding and reception out in Queens. I cried in the backseat of my parents' car and kept an eye on my sister, brother-in-law and nephew in their car.
My husband-to-be's younger brother was pacing across the entryway when we got there. I got out and burst into tears telling him what had happened. He ran in to assure my betrothed that I had arrived and told him and explained about the delay. My mom dabbed my eyes with a cold washrag to try to minimize the puffy eyes from my crying and she helped my sister get her gown on before she got herself dressed in a hurry. Finally, we were ready — the next step was our "First Look" and then photos while our guests munched on hor d'oeuvres in the next room.
The ceremony began. My 4-year-old nephew, my sister's son, was our ringbearer… we all laughed when he stopped the ceremony demanding that the Rabbi bless our rings. Then our attendants began their walk down the aisle. My sister, my Matron-of-Honor had a huge smile and looked beautiful as she wore her beautiful gown and a pair of everyday shoes, she couldn't walk in the matching heels she had planned after taking that fall. And Mark and I were married in front of all four parents, our siblings and dearest friends. The reception had its own tsuris (troubles); my mom, a diabetic, had a bad reaction from her worry, refused to go to the hospital and spent most of our reception lying down in the bridal suite.
At the end of the reception, in the middle of a snowstorm, Mark and I finally drove away to begin our new life together. It was 45-miles to our apartment where we decided to spend our first night as a married couple and since we didn't have a phone in the apartment yet, Mark stopped at a pay phone and carried me, in my gown, over a snowbank so that I could call my parents and make sure my mom and my sister were really okay. After being reassured, we finally spent a romantic evening as Mr. and Mrs.
The next morning, we headed off to our honeymoon in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. This wonderful week began our wonderful marriage, still filled with lots of ups and downs. Through the years we shed tears as we buried our parents, celebrated as we bought a home, rejoiced as we raised our remarkable children, a daughter and son, watched nephews and nieces grow, survived health scares, and finally retired.
Life goes on still filled with joys and tears. This past year we sadly buried my sister, and we celebrated as her eldest son, our ringbearer, became a grandfather. Three years ago, we made a move to our "retirement" home, a beautiful house in the great Pocono Mountains — kind of where it all began.
I love you Mark, now and forever.