The Twenty-Eighth of August

Joseph Lanzon
It is the evening of the twenty-eighth of August. As usual, it is a very hot evening. I bring down the calendar from the kitchen wall, mark the day off and replace it on the hook. Through the window I can see the pigeons homing in to the window sill of the vacant building opposite our house and the birds seeking their resting place among the branches of the tree below.
 
The radio is playing some old time favourites and Perry Como’s song ‘Magic Moments’ was filling the room with music and nostalgia.
 
“Magic moments …..
When two hearts start caring.
Magic moments …..
Memories we’ve been sharing.
Time cannot erase
These magic moments
Filled with love.”
 
Today’s date takes me back all those years ago when my life changed direction and brought me here to where I am sitting today …………………
 
………………… I was standing there on the altar steps, my brother by my side. The old white-bearded priest was arranging the ceremonials on the high altar. I had just entered the small charming church and walked on the plush red carpet which was laid down for the occasion.
 
The chandeliers were all lit up despite the bright morning sunlight coming in from the wide open front door. The pews, on both sides, were full of people dressed for this special day, relatives and friends of both of us. Various other people came out of curiosity. I was anxious, looked at my watch, heard the car arrive, people were coming in.
 
When she appeared at the front door of this small lovely church on the arm of her father, all eyes turned towards her. She looked stunning, slim and elegant, with a beautiful white train following her, a tiara on her head and a delicate veil covering her face – a typical princess, I thought.
 
The organ started playing bridal music. Loud, stirring chords filled the church. She was walking slowly on the red carpet, coming towards me to the altar. All eyes from the pews were moving with her every step. It was her day. She was the star today.
 
I looked at her. She was lovely with a radiant face and a happy look. She had just turned 19 only four days ago. I was 24. I took her hand to help her to the altar. Both of us knelt down on the kneelers, in front of the altar. We went through the mass – the choir, the sermon, the Holy Communion, the blessings of the rings. Then, arm in arm, we left the church together while the click click sound of the photographer’s camera never ceased. 
 
We left the church together. A shining black Mercedes was waiting for us to take us to our reception at the Band Club. We made a short detour to allow the congregation to transfer itself from the church to the Band Club.
 
Relatives and friends were waiting for us. As we entered the hall, the band started playing ‘Here comes the Bride’. There were so many congratulations, hugs, shaking of hands, kisses, laughter. And so much noise! It was deafening. 
 
There were drinks, food, cakes and ice-cream for everybody. Everyone was dancing to the music. At the end of all this merriment, we were lifted up on the shoulders of our friends, brought closer together and kissed in mid air. And the band played on. 
 
We cut the three-tiered wedding cake while everyone had champagne glasses ready for the wedding toast. We then left the hall in late afternoon. The sun was still blazing down mercilessly. Tired and anxious, we finally got away to be with each other…………………………..
 
That was more than fifty years ago or half a century. A very long time ago. But how time flies! Our son is married and our grandson is following his own career. It seems only yesterday that I stood anxiously on that church altar waiting for my girl to arrive.  
 
The radio was now playing Ray Charles’s popular old song ‘I Can’t Stop Loving you’. It was one of my favourites of the fifties. I knew the words by heart.
 
“I can’t stop loving you,
I’ve made up my mind
To live in memory
Of the lonesome time.
 
I can’t stop loving you,
It’s useless to say.
So I’ll just live my life
In dreams of yesteryear.
 
Those happy hours
That we once knew
Though long ago
Still make me blue.”
 
“A penny for your thoughts.” My wife’s voice cut across my thoughts. “Oh, I’m sorry”, I apologized. “I was just thinking” I replied. “You were miles away” she said. I slid my arm around her shoulders and drew her close to me. “You were thinking of the past again, I can always tell.” she continued. It was so very true. It was not the miles, it was the years.  Fifty years ago. That was something indeed. Every day, on each anniversary, I am always thankful for the way my life changed all those years ago on the twenty-eighth of August.