Marge Amey
and Lynne Elizabeth Heiser

Lynne Heiser
Inspiration piece

By Marge Amey

As the bride’s grandmother, Lena settles into her place of honor in the front pew.  In the quiet hush of the church, she can hear soft whispering between the guests sitting behind her.

“Isn’t Rose beautiful?” a voice says.

Another responds “She is a very lovely bride. She looks so pretty in her gown. Wasn’t that originally her mother’s wedding dress?  I remember admiring the beautiful lace on the skirt when Angela wore it at her wedding.”

Lena turns around and strains to see her granddaughter coming down the aisle.  Rose, walking arm in arm with her proud, smiling father, seems to be just beaming with happiness. And, she does indeed look beautiful.  The observer is right; Rose is wearing her mother’s bridal gown. But what the woman does not realize that the dress was originally made for Lena and is now an heirloom continuing into a third generation.

Once Rose reaches the front of the aisle and before she takes her beloved’s arm, she leans over and gives her grandmother a kiss.
“I love you, Nonna,” Rose says softly.
Lena responds with a hug and Rose repeats the affectionate gesture with her grandfather who sits next to her grandmother.

Lena leans back in her pew as the ceremony begins.  It isn’t long however, before her mind wanders and she begins to reminisce about her own wedding.  She remembers feeling as happy as Rose appears to be.  It was over fifty years ago that she exchanged vows with her beloved Anthony.  The church for their ceremony was in the little seaside village of Mondello, near Palermo, Italy.  It was a beautiful, sunny day just like this one.  And everyone there remarked on how beautiful she looked as she and her handsome Anthony left the church together.

She smiles to herself and her reverie continues as she recalls another important day in their lives together – the day Anthony suggested that they emigrate to the United States.  He had a friend there who was willing to help them when they arrived.  She agreed, they bid their families an emotional farewell, made the journey, and had never looked back.  They settled just outside of Buffalo where Anthony was given a job with his friend’s construction company.  Together they raised five children and now, so many years later, have 17 grandchildren.  Rose, today’s bride, is their youngest granddaughter.

As Lena looks around the church, she muses about how much change she has seen in her lifetime. In Mondella, the small village church was made simply and plainly of stucco, but it had many beautiful statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.  Glorious stained glass windows colored the incoming sunshine.  Here, her American church is very modern without ornate carvings and statues.  There is no stained glass. Instead, it is decorated with only large tapestries, tall candelabra and floral bouquets. But she feels very at home as it is a church amidst a neighborhood of many Italian immigrants.  When Lena comes to morning Mass, she joins the dozen or more other older women bent with age wrapped in their black shawls sitting near the front of the church. Father Bernardo has been the parish priest for nearly twenty years.  In deference to his elderly parishioners, many of whom do not speak English, he first gives his sermon in Italian and then repeats it in English.  He has resisted any change from the time-honored Latin Mass. Just like in her hometown church, parishioners follow along in their long used missals.  Time-honored hymns are still sung in Latin by beautiful voices in the choir loft.  It is an unspoken rule in this church that many other older protocols still persist as well.  None of today’s casualness has crept into the demeanor of parishioners.  While hats are no longer required of women entering the sanctuary, no one wears blue jeans or shorts.  Certain decorum is still expected in this house of the Lord and Lena approves of that sentiment.

She is happy that her granddaughter is a romantic and traditional young woman and has chosen to wear this heirloom bridal gown with its layers of fine lace handmade by the old women in Lena’s Sicilian village so many years ago.  And even more, she is thrilled that Rose and her love have chosen to go to Sicily on their honeymoon and will visit Mondello. Ironically, they will be arriving on July 15, the feast day of Saint Rosalia, the village’s patron saint.  They will be able to enjoy the feasts and celebrations for which it is famous.  There are a few of Lena’s eleven brothers and sisters who still live there.  Rose has promised to visit them and will bring back photographs of them all as well as some of the village.  Lena will send pictures of herself with Rose to share with the relatives as well.

A proud grandmother, Lena sits comfortably next to her dear Anthony and wonders how much of their romantic past he remembers.  Does he remember their walks along the beaches of the Mediterranean?  Can he still remember the seaside restaurants for which Mondello was well-known? She glances at Anthony and smiles, but he seems to be in his own reverie.  She reaches over and lays her hand on his.  It feels so comfortable there.  So much has changed in the nearly fifty years since they arrived in America but so much more about their lives together has stayed the same. That’s amore!



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