My mother was Catholic, my father was…handsome. The daughter of poor immigrants, and poorly educated, herself, this young girl of Irish/Italian heritage was looking for a better future. My father, too, was of immigrant parents, hard working, middle class, and Protestant.
She wanted the love that an abusive father never showed her, and he, this dashing young tradesman, would give her that, and more. Still, she was Catholic and, well, he was a pool shooter. Living in a flat above the pool hall he frequented, evenings would often find her purposefully loitering on the building steps, easy prey for his roving eyes. Love finds a way…
Barely 19 and in a ‘family way’, she married him, probably to the chagrin of the family patriarch, and the local priest. After all, she was a Catholic girl and he…well, he was careless and cavalier. In all likelihood, he was careless more than once, as six more children were added to the family tree in rapid succession. She was very Catholic.
Life was challenging for a young wife with five small children and an ‘old school’ husband who set the rules and expectations in a firm manner. Yet, for all the hardships endured, she worshipped him, depended on him for her well-being and her place in a middle class America. Besides, what were her options?
Their marriage endured, and only strengthened with time. My mother loved my father dearly and he relished his role as a strong family provider and leader. He was doing what was expected of him, then.
It was joyful, watching their love grow, an affair lasting 50 years. Life’s tough challenges were met and now behind them, and they basked in the comfort of their companionship, each one knowing the other’s pleasures.
And then, it ended. One morning, he kissed her goodbye, twice, went to work and didn’t come home. To the end, the handsome pool player fulfilled his vow to love and cherish, protect and provide.
The Catholic girl survived another twenty years, still in love with the same man but now adding God in her daily thoughts. After all, she was Catholic, and He…well, He was her Savior.
Dedicated to my wonderful parents