This, the 1st of September 2010, marks the 32nd anniversary of that dinner. I wish I could remember details about that night, but in typical teenage fashion I took for granted the hours spent. If I could live it again I would take photos and write a detailed journal; I would make note of the menu and the waiter’s name and the topics of conversation. I would memorize every sound, color, and scent; every bit of laughter and nuance of conversation. I would savor those things which, in my youth, I could not imagine ever being without.
I remember snippets, such as Daddy wearing a tweed sport coat and Mama’s charm bracelet jangling. Daddy drank a vodka martini with extra olives and Mama ordered scotch and water on the rocks (with a lemon twist). Before dinner drinks were sipped, not slurped, and dinner—seafood, I think—lasted for a couple of hours, not a couple of minutes. There were white linen tablecloths and I sat next to Mama in the booth with Daddy across from us. It sounds formal, but it was very casual, and we were silly and laughed a lot. I had just graduated from high school the June before, so I imagine we discussed my plans to attend the University of Las Vegas in the spring. Daddy was a philosopher at heart, so the conversation may have veered toward lofty things. God help me, I cannot remember. I want so much to remember.
Subsequent Septembers came and went, and for a few years we celebrated on the first day of the month to honor our pledge. But our pact gave way to life—marriage and babies and moves and illness and death. Before Mama and Daddy died we rarely forgot our special day and, over the telephone and the separation of a thousand miles, we would share a glass of wine to commemorate that first dinner.
I pray that right now my parents are together holding hands on a heavenly beach, watching over me and calling out, “Happyanniversary, Snowflake!” And in their honor I lift my wine glass and say, “Happy September 1st to the best parents God created. I will love you forever and miss you always, and I hope I’ve made you proud.”