"Menu April 3, 1960
Steak Tips with Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions
Apple Pie a la mode
Floral Decorations -Yellow Roses
Dessert - Apple Pie, Vanilla Ice Cream"
I looked at the shopping list in my hands and read the next item. My mother had let me look through some things from the days before I was born, and in them was a menu and shopping list from the first anniversary they'd gotten to spend together. You see, my father was in the Air Force, and spent a lot of time overseas, separated from my mother. So, he started something on their first anniversary. I remember seeing the card in with the pictures my father took and developed himself over the years
3 April, 1955 - It was a small card, the kind that came with flowers. "Happy First Anniversary. Love Me." It was inside a card that my father had sent to my mother that same year. "Happy Anniversary" the front of the card said. And when I opened it, the smaller card fell out, along with a pressed yellow rose in wax paper. I carefully picked up the rose and flower delivery card before carefully placing them on the table and reading the inside of the card. "To my wonderful bride of one year, I still love you deeply. You will forever finish my sentences before I do. Love Me." The envelope the cards had rested in for fifty-plus years said a single word on the outside. "You."
Seeing that card, and the 'Me's and 'You's, reminded me of other years past. This was one I was not around to spend with them, but it told me a lot about my parents, even more than just their own words in telling my brother and I the story of how they met and ended up dating each other. But that is another story. This story is specifically for long after that first date of theirs.
Digging through the items my mother kept in her hope chest, I found my father's diary. Yes, my father kept a diary
or rather, a journal, since men don't keep diaries. I flipped through it until I found my father's nickname for my mother, "Glenn." I stopped to read that page. "3rd April, 1969 - Glenn would love to see Vietnam. So full of culture and history. She loves to travel and see the world, and I think we've seen more of the Unites States than the world. But I'll make sure to take her anywhere she wants to go when I retire. It's been a long time that I've been in the Air Force, and while I wouldn't trade it, I want to settle down, have a permanent home, raise a family. And it's getting late for us to start our family. Again, it's that special day for me and Glenn, and while I'm here, she's back home in Rome, New York. I sent her the yellow roses today. I still can't believe it's been fifteen years since we were united in our love." I smiled and wiped away a tear as I read that. That was so long ago. Even before my older brother was born.
Looking through things again, I found the poem I'd written as a teenager. It was sort of an apology to my parents for my rude behavior a few days before. I shook my head thinking of that day. I'd cursed at my mother. And while I'd heard her curse a few times before, she never went further than "Shit!" And I'd gone and yelled, "Fuck you!" at her. I know now how much it hurt my mother, but back then, I was young and dumb. Full of myself. And my father never cursed and his was the displeasure I felt the most when he talked to me that night. He never yelled. He never had to. He still had that military presence, and I was not about to get into more trouble. So I made it up to them by writing this poem:
When I wrote it, the You and Me were my parents, and the Children was me. It wasn't a huge apology, but it got the message across to both my parents that I was sorry for my words and that I did love them both. And a bouquet of yellow roses sat on the counter behind my poem for the next week.
Then came the year that things changed, and yellow roses caused more pain than happiness. Just days after my father's 72nd birthday, he passed away after a valiant fight against pancreatic cancer, which a year and a half earlier, in mid-April, my uncle passed away from as well. The following April was the first April my mother spent without a bouquet of yellow roses arriving for her. Instead, she and I pulled out the memorial service papers and I picked up my own tribute to my father. "I never thought I would see the day the damned dog would outlive me," he'd said the day before he passed away. His sense of humor never left him. Then my mother found a paper from an old friend of my father's from the Air Force. "Every year, in April, no matter where we were stationed, Bob always had to find a place that would ship an order to the US, if we were overseas, that carried yellow roses. Their first anniversary, fifth, tenth, each and every year they were separated on their special day, he would send her the yellow roses. But when they were together... I don't think I've ever seen that many florists run out of yellow roses so fast. 'Glenn is my yellow rose,' he's always say. Everyone knew and loved Glenn, just from Bob's words. That's why today, his pictures are surrounded by yellow roses. Bob, it's Glenn's turn to give them to you." My mother and I wiped the tears from our eyes and looked to the table, a vase of peach roses sitting on it.
April 3, 2010 - Dinner with Mom
"Menu April 3, 2010
Steak Tips with Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions
Mom's Secret Recipe Asparagus
Fresh Berries with Vanilla Ice Cream
Floral Decorations -Yellow Tulips, Peach Roses
Parmesan Cheese, Grated and Shredded
Yellow Roses - Peach Roses, Yellow Tulips
Dessert - Chocolate Cake, Cheesecake, Fresh Berries and Ice Cream"
My mind came back to the shopping list and I sighed. There was no way I was bringing back yellow roses. Yellow roses would cause more pain than happiness. Entering the flower store, I decided to get peach roses and yellow tulips, if they had any, otherwise I'd get daffodils.