April 25, 1948

Today is my mom and dad’s wedding anniversary.  They got married on April 25, 1948.  How I miss them!  They lived to celebrate 59 years of marriage!

Theirs was a love marriage.  My dad first saw my mom on her family farm and told his best friend that he had spotted the girl he would marry.

“Have you spoken to her?”   Dad’s friend was quite practical.

“Are you kidding?”  Dad was shy.

“Well, do you at least know her name?”

“No, but I can tell you where she lives and what she looks like.”  Dad went on to describe where mom’s family farm was.

“You fool!  That’s my uncle’s farm.  You haven’t got a chance!  Not right away…my uncle does things the old way.  You know, he marries his daughters off by age.  The eldest one gets married first and so on.  The one you spotted is Giuseppina (Pina) and she’s got two older sisters my uncle needs to marry off first.  Besides, she just turned 15!  She’s just a kid!”

“Well, since she’s your cousin, help me.  What should I do?”

“I guess I can arrange for you to talk to the old man!  Not sure how it will go.  He’s quite strict and correct, if you know what I mean.”

“Please arrange a meeting.  I need to talk to him and tell him of my honorable intentions.”

Dad told us this story many times while mom looked at him with that crazy love-look in her eye.  Before Dad met with the old man, he went by the farm many times and made eye contact with my mother.  The look she gave him encouraged him to go forward with the meeting of the old man!  And Dad’s friend, mom’s cousin, also conveyed to my mom that this handsome admirer had honorable intentions.  Dad actually got my mom to talk to him just before meeting with the old man and she told him in so many words that she was interested.  He was 24 and she was 15!

Dad met with my Grandpa Licata and spoke of his love for Pina.  I can’t even imagine my dad going through this ordeal. First of all, he hardly knew Pina, but he knew she was the one!  All he had was this stern old man before him, a Sicilian father of 10 children!  Grandpa Vincenzo Licata: this was the man who forbid his daughters to cut their hair so they could never follow the fashionable short hair cuts of the mid 1940’s.  On Sundays, he forbid his family to do anything but read the Bible after attending morning mass.  He was stern, according to my mother, but was known to tell funny stories and he played the role of “mother” in the Licata family. He did the coddling while Grandma Licata meted out the punishments and disciplined the 10 children.

My dad thought the meeting went pretty well.  Grandpa Licata encouraged my dad to wait due to my mom’s young age and other pending circumstances. Dad secretly met my mother later and told her, “It went well!  Your dad said that after your sister gets married, you and I can start our formal engagement.  At that time, he will meet my parents and will allow us to go out for chaperoned walks.  Once we are engaged, he will allow me to come over and sit with your family in the evenings!”  By the time he was finished with his spiel, my mother was in tears.

“What’s wrong?  Have you changed your mind?  Do you not like me?”

“No, it’s not that!  You just said that all this is possible only AFTER my sister gets married!  You don’t understand.  We will have such a long wait!  Weddings don’t happen overnight.”

This worried my dad, but he reassured my mother that in due time, he and my mom could begin their formal engagement.  Time would be their friend and give mother time to grow into a woman.

The good news is that, soon after, my grandparents did everything according to plan.  My aunt’s marriage gave way to my parents’ formal engagement two years later!

We children were always told that mom and dad were never allowed to be alone together before their marriage.  They told us that their “dates’ were a lot like the scene in The Godfather where the engaged couple goes for a walk in Sicily and behind them is a line up of relatives!  Their “dates” became processions.  The told us countless times that back in 1948, there was no chance to even reach for the hand of your beloved.  In the film, The Godfather, the woman feigns a stumble so that her beloved can reach out for her and actually touch her.  How we loved that scene! I always imagined my mother feigning a stumble, so dad could catch her by the waistline!

“But ma, did daddy ever kiss you before you were married?”

“NO!  No kisses.  The kisses waited for our honeymoon! Back in the old days, that’s how things were done.”

Fast forward to 1998.  It was mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary.  All of us sisters converged at my parents’ house in Valparaiso, Indiana.  We planned a celebration that would seem more like a wedding.  On the morning of April 25, 1998, Zina, Nora, Toni, and I all barged into mom and dad’s bedroom (Jeanie was at the nursing home and would join us later for the festivities).  We had spent the night.  “Happy 50th Anniversary!!!”  How fragile and sweet they looked!  My mom was pulling the sheets up to her chin and my dad was all teary eyed, moved by his grown “girls”.  We all jumped onto their bed and said, “Tell us the story about how you met!!!!”

They started telling us the story we knew so well.

At some point, I said, “I still think it’s so AMAZING that you had your first kiss on your wedding day!”  All my sisters nodded in agreement.  And then I noticed my mom and dad look at each other and they started laughing.

Apparently, there was a hidden portion of the story!   Dad explained:  “See, I got really sick when we were engaged. I took to bed and was running a very high fever.  My mamma was worried that I was dying and so she sent for your mamma and her parents.  They all came at once.  Your mamma was crying and I said to my mamma that before I died I needed to see my fiance alone.  My parents and your mamma’s parents discussed this and decided to let Pina sit with me along my bedside, unchaperoned.  So your mamma came into my room and we were alone while our parents were sitting, waiting in the sitting room having coffee.  That’s when we kissed!!  And my fever went away and I lived to marry my your mamma!”

Incredible!  My parents chuckled at our gullibility! It’s now so funny to think that we had swallowed their long standing story hook, line, and sinker all those years, only to be set straight on their 50th wedding anniversary!  Of course, after hearing dad’s confession, I am now willing to concede that there were several kisses exchanged between the engaged couple the day my father had a fever (feigned or real?) while his parents and his future in-laws waited innocently (or knowingly?) outside the closed door!

That day, in 1998, I loved them even more for being so real and so incredibly in love with each other!

That day, in 1998, I learned that a kiss could cure a fever.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!  May you kiss another gazillion times x 100,000 or more into eternity.  Your love for one another is so inspiring.

I wish I could snuggle up onto your bed again and hear your beautiful love story just once more!  Thank you for teaching me about love and commitment. How I miss you!


6 Responses to “April 25, 1948”

  1. Helen Anne Says:

    What a beautiful story. I absolutely love their photos. They looked like happy joyous people. God blessed you with such wonderful parents. They are smiling upon you every day.


  2. Nora Brown Says:

    Mom and dad have been on my mind all day Fran, I even burned a candle for them on their special day. Interesting that you tell the story that was told by them every year on the 25th of April, I, also was hearing this story today as I thought of how much I miss them,if only we could have one more day with them…….Thank you for putting their story down in words as only you can do so vividly. love you my dear sister.


  3. frangallo Says:

    I think mom and dad were close by today! I heard dad’s voice as I wrote their love story. The only problem is I had to translate it into English. I heard the story in Italian in my head!! love you, Fran


  4. marykay Says:

    Just now got to indulge myself in reading this dear, touching tribute to love & commitment! Fran you look so like your Mom’s wedding foto! I’m so blessed to know you.xoxo..mK


    • frangallo Says:

      thank you, marykay! i just got back from the Tucson San Xavier Mission and lit a candle for my parents there! They are always with me. When I wrote this blog, I heard them speaking in Italian and felt I had taken something away from their words as I translated them into English. But, their words are alive as is their immortal love. xxoo Fran


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: