It was a sunny day in the wet climate of Volcano, Hawai‛i.
Dan and I dodged adults and ate wedding cake. Dan left
after eating his fill. Someone – it must have been Bob –
opened a bottle of champagne and to Dad’s dismay sprayed
the ceiling just outside the kitchen door. As guests and
family members scattered, the house emptied into silence.
Before silence the day seems to me to have been the peak
of my family’s happiness, a heterodyne of the happiness
allotted to any assembled group of people. A house new
to my family, and a wedding as housewarming. A first
daughter’s wedding to a man she would grow to love.
As far as I know, it was the first and last wedding in that
house. Jann never lived there, and of course moved with
Bob to a house several blocks away, temporarily, while
waiting for his Army tour to end. Mom never lived there
either; she moved to Hilo, thirty miles away and fashioned
a new life for herself after the divorce was finalized.
Kit found me, her baby brother, in what would become
our closet, crying over the advent of changes I didn’t
understand. She comforted me and began crying, too –
not out of personal sadness, but for me her lost brother.
Perhaps she already knew that she would leave also –
soon enough. Kit helped clean up after the wedding.
After his Army hitch was up, Bob and Jann left for his
home state of Illinois. They had two children right away.
Bob and Jann are still married, and divide their time
between Illinois summers and Arizona winters. Their
kids Cindy and Tony have given them grandchildren
and great grandchildren.
Each year, when the rains intensified, mildew bloomed
where champagne soaked the ceiling that wedding day.
Dad lived there for some twenty-six years, until he checked
himself into the hospital during his final days. He didn’t
apologize for how he was, for how he drove one of his
daughters to marry to get away. When he had to, he cleaned.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
April 4, 2012