In the beginning

April 2, 2015

The iconic bridal shot, badly framed.

When M and I divorced in 1981 I threw away my wedding album. We didn’t have children whose history it belonged to, so why would I keep it?  It’s not like it was any kind of beginning, or so I thought. It was just my first false start. I thought.

I never gave it another thought until we remarried some 27 years later and then, I wished I’d saved it because it became relevant. All of a sudden. Then again, who knew?

Fortunately, teenage bestie, who was in the wedding, had saved her photo of the bridal party and was kind enough to give it to me so we had at least one 8×10 of the group.

And then, last month, I was going through boxes I hadn’t opened since probably 2001 and found the book of proofs from my wedding album. My mother had kept it and I’d taken it when we’d cleaned out my family home after her death.  I’d forgotten that I’d taken it and it had remained hidden away for more than a decade. What a treasure it was!  We loved going through the photos and reminiscing.

More photos and journals survived from my past than I expected, and I found them all as I sorted through the things in my old storage unit.  They represent the long thread of my life and somewhere, in there, a coherent through line exists, even if I can’t see it yet.  When people ask me about my life, I’m tempted to say, “got a couple hours?” And really,  the only logical response is, “It’s complicated.”  But maybe it’s not so much complicated as it is–unknown, in  a way– and I’d like to unravel that invisible through line in that memoir I keep saying I’ll finish.  I’m thinking these old mementos may help.

Starting today, I’ll do sporadic posts with photos about some of the chapters of my life. My hope is that I can make sense of it all (ha!) and then come up with some coherent spine for a memoir. Maybe some inspirational quotes for women, like “life is mysterious” or “don’t give up hope.” Or something.

And since I’ve found these photos of my husband and me–so young, so adorable and so damn innocent–I’ll start here.


July 15, 1972: my parents and I are in the living room of our family home in Rochester, NY. I need a haircut.

Our family photographer, Mr. Cuminale, came to the house before the wedding to shoot some traditional wedding book photographs. My parents look so happy and they were. Back in that day the wedding of an eldest daughter was the culmination of every parent’s hopes and dreams. The era of big hair was waning, but my mother’s hair is still big–augmented–and she looks beautiful.

My mom had a smile that would light up a room and I’d give anything to see it again, and to hear her laugh. Her passing in 1999 at age 74 was far too soon. But here, on this day, she was thrilled to be the mother of the bride. Turns out, this was her only chance to be in that role; my sister married late, after my mother died.

Although the house sold years ago to another family, I can still see every square foot of it. Sometimes, I walk through it in my mind and it makes me cry. When I look at this photo I know exactly where I was standing and can put myself there in a heartbeat. Who knows, maybe in some parallel universe,  M and I are having this wedding right this minute. Because, you know, it is possible to bend time….


Brothers. Honest. Yes, same parents.

I’m not exactly sure what my long-haired brother-in-law is pointing at, but isn’t my young husband cute? Maybe Rich is saying “You’re late! You’re late! For a very important date!”

And don’t you love the sideburns? I look at him in this photograph and I swoon. Oh, I adored him at the time. Still do.  I’m also crazy about my brother-in-law–he’s hilarious– and his being back in my life is one of the best things about M and my remarriage. It’s always a treat to get him on the phone and share some snark.  When we met, Rich was 18 and I was 19, so we had a lot in common. (I met M when I was 18, my freshman year in college and his senior year.)


My handsome father walks me down the aisle.

I was one of those kids who arrived in the world precocious and questioning. I was not an easy child for an authoritarian, Sicilian father. His smile as he walked me down the aisle reflected his relief that I was now someone else’s problem. I was certain of it!  He looks so handsome in his tuxedo. In a photo from my sister’s wedding almost 30 years later, he’s also wearing a tuxedo but you can see the ravages, the confusion of Alzheimer’s disease on his face. But on this day, that was far in the future.  I was only 20–what did I know of the speedy passage of time? That 40 years could pass in the blink of an eye?

Looking at this photo I can imagine it all, just as it was. My father was 53 in this photo–but looked younger. I am now 10 years older than he was then.


It’s a beautiful church.

…St. Ambrose Church was our family parish and the wedding officiant was Father Doyle, a longtime friend of our family. I had my First Communion at St. Ambrose and my Confirmation. Some 27 years after this photograph I would stand at that altar giving my mother’s eulogy and almost a decade later, I’d be there again for my father. As I wrote those words I realized how much a part of my life this church has been, even though I no longer identify as Roman Catholic. More than ever before, I can see how a church can anchor families, even though it didn’t really do that for us. But it was where all the milestone events were held.

Of course, we look all traditional up there, but when it was time for Communion, one of my Jewish bridesmaids decided to give it a try and I practically sprained my neck trying to catch a glimpse of her.


This makes me smile.

How cute are we?

Of course, I had no idea this walk down the aisle would eventually end in a heart-breaking divorce. And that some 27 years after that, we’d remarry. I still can’t fathom it, and it happened to me. A long, strange trip.


First to wish me happiness after the wedding: my father. My sister looks happy, too. It might have been one of the last times she was ever happy for me. That day, she actually had the mumps and got very sick at the reception. But we didn’t know that until later that night.

We Sicilians do a lot of kissing.  Dad always looked younger than his age, even in his last days. But this is how I like to remember him: at 53, in his prime, smiling.


M has a beautiful smile, too.

Doesn’t he look happy? He still is and so am I. He still has those baby blues, too, of course. And he’s still as nice as he ever was. Nicer, even. Because, remember, I did know him in his studly senior year of college.  College boys can be a little…well, they can be boys.



The Sicilian family. And why is my dad’s hair standing on end?


Yes, both our mothers were natural redheads. At least originally.  In these photos M clearly resembles his mother. If you scroll up you can see how much his brother resembles their dad. But now, M’s got a more chiseled look and resembles his father. Go figure. My father-in-law died young just two years later.

I’ve come to believe I look like my father.




After the reception, a Godfather-esque event marked by two open bars, a sit-down dinner for 400 (we are all Sicilian)  and a pretty big drunk-fest, we leave, a little worse for the wear.  This was the start of our first married life.  It would last a little over eight years, until I was 29.  Chapter 1, I guess.


67 comments on “In the beginning
  1. PatU says:

    That’s an amazing story…and I’m so happy for you that you were able to recover these photos. At one point we thought we lost our wedding album in one of our moves, but found it later in an unlikely spot. Phew.

  2. These photos are beautiful! How amazing that they have been found. Love the story behind them.

  3. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    Awww, I loved looking at all your old photos. Very cool and thanks for sharing.

  4. The pieces of the puzzle coming together with a trip down Memory Lane. This was fascinating, and I love the photos. Of course you piqued my interest why it was the last time your sister was happy for you. And, also, the mumps? Even with a vaccine?

    The reminiscences about the church, your parents and the passing of time made me happy and sad at the same time. I wish there was a rewind button for certain things. Okay, for a lot of things.

    Loved this post, Carol. Many thanks for starting my day off right.

    • I know that sad/happy feeling well. That wistful thing about the passing of innocence and time. I’d like to rewind some things, too. Yeah, the sister thing is something I am working on a piece about. It’ll be a while and probably not for the blog, probably for something else: an anthology or journal.

  5. Abbie gale says:

    I am so tickled your mom saved the proofs! What a gift! Great story and thanks for sharing.

  6. Mary says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story…and pictures!

  7. I looked at and studied every photograph with interest, Carol! I’m so glad you found that album. The Universe is sending you loud messages to get that memoir out soon!

  8. I love this Carol! What a terrific idea and I bet it will help you when you start your memoir. It’s so easy to look back and say “If we had only done this or that” but it doesn’t do any good does it. I’m so glad that you and Michael found your way back to each other and that you are deliriously happy. I also have to say that both of your mother’s were absolutely stunning.

  9. Laura says:

    What a relief you found those pictures they hold a lot of memories for you and not just of the wedding either.

  10. I am so glad you found those proofs. It must have felt like a gift from your Mother.
    So adorable. I had the same hair style back then:)
    I am so happy you are going to tell your story. Yes!

  11. You are very lucky to have found love with your husband again. I really enjoyed looking through your photos. Everytime we get together at mom’s, we pull out all of her old family photo albums and laugh and have a great time looking back.

  12. Jeanine says:

    Wow! What a story! It’s crazy how things work out! How amazing. Lucky your friend had photos, I bet that is a relief now! I’m still in shock you got remarried 27yrs later talk about a fairytale!

  13. What a treasure to find these beautiful photos! It’s so hard to recognize how present day events and milestones effect and mold us for the people we become and the path that we end up taking. I love your “love story” and how it seems to have come full circle. 🙂

  14. Carol, these are so fun to look through! I love time-warping like this.

    What a beautiful bride. I often thank my lucky starts that when I was young I didn’t know all that was in store for me. It would have been too much for that young girl to bear.

  15. Really enjoyed walking with you down memory lane…you looked so pretty!! Your marriage story is such an inspirational one!

  16. Kim Tackett says:

    Carol, I love this…thanks for sharing the pictures, and the stories that go with them. I love that you can Michael found your way back to each other. Sigh.

  17. Debbie D. says:

    What an incredible story, Carol! How wonderful that you and M rediscovered each other all those years later. That would make a good movie. 🙂 You must have been so happy to find those old photos. I enjoyed them and they brought back memories of my own Italian wedding in 1973. Looking forward to learning more about you. Ciao

  18. Stacey Schmitt Minardo says:

    Hi Carol,

    I really enjoyed reading this article and seeing pictures of your Mom, Dad and Mary Ellen. I, too was married in St. Ambrose. They have done a bit of remodeling over the years — the center aisle is now much shorter. It sounds like you and “M” were meant to be, so I’m happy you are together again.


  19. What an awesome find in those albums! This could be very therapeutic for you. What a great walk for memory lane, and GREAT pictures.

  20. Lana says:

    I think your love story is one of the most interesting I’ve ever read. Loved seeing these pictures from your wedding day – so glad you found them!

  21. amar naik says:

    photos have an amazing power since they freeze those moments which we can never get back. good to hear to you got back your valuable memories.

  22. Aw 🙂 Loved reading your story <3 And so many beautiful pics 🙂 You look lovely 🙂

  23. Jennifer says:

    What an amazing story. I can’t wait to here the rest! Remarrying 27 years later sounds like a fairy tail romance:))
    It is a miracle you were able to get these photo’s from your friend!

  24. Amy Bovaird says:

    I am thrilled you managed to recover so many photos-and thrilled you remarried!
    I enjoy your style of writing, Carol. It makes me feel as if you were sitting on a sofa talking to me with all your asides!
    Feeling good for you and M.

  25. Harriet says:

    I love that you remarried your husband especially after all of that time. I couldn’t even tell you where my album is.

  26. Beautiful pictures and a heart-warming story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  27. What a captivating story. You were so lucky to come across the proofs and to be able to relive those memories. I’m so glad that you were both able to find happiness together again

  28. Haralee says:

    I love the pictures. Amazing how your story turned out from this first wedding. Everyone looks so beautiful and young and happy. I just feel like you are pointing out to me some one and I am saying, is that Mary Margaret or Mary Ann, like I knew them!

  29. Cheri says:

    That was so much fun, Carol! Thanks for sharing.

  30. So much fun to look at these great pictures! I’m so glad you were able to get them back. What a history!

  31. paula schuck says:

    Wow! How wonderful that your friend kept these pictures. You both look great. You look gorgeous here though. This reminds me of my aunt’s wedding back in the late 70s. Styles were similar.

  32. Your story is so sweet! I loved reading it. I do the same with my childhood home…thinking about it and “walking through it” again.

  33. So happy for you that you found the photos – and what a wonderful love story your life is. Happily ever after is not always how it works out – but such a fairy tale that in your case it triumphed in the end!

  34. Lisa Froman says:

    I really loved reading this and viewing the pics. So sweet and intimate. Thanks for taking us on your journey…and yes, life is mysterious, isn’t it?

  35. Stephanie says:

    What an amazing story — can’t wait to hear more of it! I love the photos as well.

  36. Thanks for sharing your story and beautiful photographs. What a story, you remarried him after 27 long year! I’m still trying to digest it..

  37. So great that you found the extra set of pictures. Thank you for sharing them.

  38. Heather says:

    I’m so glad that even after throwing away the wedding album, your mom thought to save this little part of your life even when you didn’t want to revisit it at that time. Its lovely to look back on those times and see how much we’ve changed.

  39. WOW! God works in mysterious ways. Great story and thanks for sharing.

  40. Agata says:

    Beautiful pictures. An old photos have something special about them… the new digital one really lack it.

  41. Britney says:

    Yay for moms! These are amazing and I’m glad you didn’t lose them all!

  42. Diane says:

    This is so sweet! What a treasure to find those pictures. Loved reading about your special day. An knowing that it is special once more . . .

  43. Oh Carol. This is lovely. I adore how you go back-n-forth between the two experiences. There is much to be learned here- like always.

  44. What a story! I enjoyed reading it. Life sure is mysterious. Thank you for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things, hope to see you again next week. Happy Easter!

  45. Kerry says:

    Lovely story. It proves that life is full of second chances.

  46. Bismah says:

    I always enjoy looking at old photos especially when there is a beautiful story being told about them! Thank you for sharing!

  47. WOW now I can’t wait to hear the whole story! I loved the pictures by the way.

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