Three years apart in age, my mom (b.1928) and dad (b.1925) were born at the beginning of the Great Depression. Their early childhood stories are family-focused, tales of sacrifice and tragedy, of making do with all that they had. Their joy sprung from the little things: trips to Coney Island, walking along the boardwalk, hand-me down bicycles, the surprise of roller skates for Christmas, card games, family-style Sunday dinners, visiting aunts, uncles and cousins just a short walk away, church on Sunday, Knights of Columbus dances, and movies.
Almost all of my childhood memories include my mom and dad dancing. Old photos show them sharply dressed, swirling across the dance floor. The most vivid images live in my memory bank: from weddings and garden parties to BBQs and beach days. An open melody, the crooning of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others in the background, the tap-tap-tap of the shoe on the hardwood floor. It wasn’t long before my father would stand and ask my mom to dance. Even right there in the living room.
When not dancing, my parents would watch the classic movies popular during their youth. Snuggled together on the moss green sofa a montage of the greats moving across the television screen: Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, Laurence Olivier et al. Sometimes they would share stories of movie releases, the double features, saving their pennies to see the latest film, waiting for autographs to be signed. Sometimes they would each be lost in their own reverie of shared moments with friends and family, way before they thought to start their own.
I remember my mom and dad dancing, early fall 1999. A few weeks before my brother’s wedding. They are in the living room watching a program, the autumnal sun is fading. There is music playing and Dad asks Mom to dance. Her eyes light up and with all the energy she can muster, she stands. I clear the furniture from the rug and Dad holds her hand, quick-quick-slow-slow as if they are on pause. Dad is smiling and she is laughing, happy.
Three months later she is gone.
I will forever in my dreams see them dancing, a perpetual couple waltzing atop a music box.
Lucy Romano Preziotti
b. 9/19/28 – d. 1/23/00