|There's the best man, Dad's cousin Frank Butera,|
then Dad (Mickele Edward Nicolazzo),
then Mom (Bertha Erma Huckabone – you heard me!),
and her maid of honor, her sister Gladys Huckabone.
The bridal party is standing left to right.
But let's pretend that Mom had remained her normal lively self for those last two years. Would she have celebrated the anniversary without her husband? I guess not. She surely would have noted the day. I still think it's awkward to talk about dead people. To say I loved my mother seems wrong, and yet to love someone who doesn't exist – at least not on this side of the Veil – seems if not wrong, at least ... ineffective.
Well, to say my parents would have celebrated is strange, too, but on their birthdays, I always count it up. Wow, I'll think, Dad would have been eighty-nine today. Yeah, well, he died at age seventy-four. Surely when I'm seventy-four, I won't think, Wow. Dad would have been a hundred and two today. Or will I?
But back to 1948.
Mom was a Baptist and Dad was a Roman Catholic, so they had to get married in a Catholic church, but she couldn't approach the altar. They were married somewhere else. The priest's office? A side chapel? A broom closet? I don't know. I'm pretty sure they had to sign a paper – or maybe it was only she – swearing to raise any kids Catholic. I wonder if she worried over that or just signed the damned thing. Seeing that my brother Jim was a premature baby, as many were in those pre-Pill days, I'm guessing she signed as quickly as possible.
And now, apparently, she's rotting in Hell, because while the first three of five children were baptized Catholic, none of them was raised that way. By the time my parents left this vale of tears, my Dad was a Bible-beating fundamentalist of some sort, a Brand X, or even Y, of Protestantism, and Mom was simply a smiling, compassionate agnostic.
But what an odd phrase is "rotting in Hell." The whole point of the afterlife is that we won't, after all, rot. What good is damning someone to Hell – or to Heaven, for that matter – if they're going to rot anyhow? Their punishment – or sparkly reward – will be too short, and I'm pretty sure we're promised ETERNITY here, whether it's a teeth-gnashing sort of eternity, or a harp-playing, sweetly swaying one.
Well, that settles that, then: Mom's not rotting in Hell. Whew.