The Photograph

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“The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?-Henry David Thoreau

I placed the photograph of the five of us in the picture frame. We looked fabulous! On it the sentiment reads:


Life is to be shared with our greatest friends

Who would have thought the photo I would add to it would be of the five us? My four best friends from high school. After 25 years, and a lifetime of changes, we were together again. To celebrate the first wedding for our friend A. We looked the same, but didn’t. We acted the same, but saner. We had become grown ups. Some of us parents. Some of us married. Well, A. was married. The rest of us had tried to maintain relationships, but most of us were single again.

It was the first time I’d been to a wedding reception without Roger Darling. It felt strange, but not. I felt freedom as I ran around the reception hall. Hugging everyone and chatting away. P. and I spoke inappropriately to each other and laughed about the fact that you could tell who the recovered alkies were during the wedding toast. Everyone else had champagne, we had sparkling cider colored purple.

T and I skittered around the kitchen wearing aprons. We talked non-stop as we sliced cakes and filled trays with delicious desserts for the guests. We did our best to keep the bride’s family out of the kitchen, so they could enjoy the evening. T and I had a blast, even when she cut her finger and was bleeding profusely all over the place. We patched her up and continued our kitchen duty. Who would have thought I’d be standing there with her? My T. The girl that called me Pookie Chow Chow when we were kids. Don’t ask me why, she just did.

Rhodes came all the way from West “By God” Virginia to photograph the festivities. We asked her to take the photo of us, P, A, L, T and me. Most of us had gone years without speaking. There were fights, misunderstandings, changes in personality and attitudes. There were hurt feelings too. I recall sending a Christmas card to one of my friends with pictures of my little son and daughter in it. It was returned to me unopened, stating that the address was unknown. It saddened me a little, but such is life. We move on. Grow. Change. Mature. Live. Break. Rebuild.

The frame that holds my treasured photo was meant to contain a picture from another time. My friend Linda and I never got to take that photo. A diagnosis of cancer and her swift retreat from my life made it impossible. She died not soon after, and I hid the frame in my closet. I figured I would get the chance to have another photo taken with the three remaining friends that were with me on the day I received the gift from Lin. But circumstances with all of them changed and our friendships scattered to the wind.

I’m of the belief that everything happens for a reason. Be it fate or God, or both. Linda gave me that frame to house a precious photo. Who knew it would be of the four friends I had in high school? They were my Breakfast Club. My Lloyd Dobler, from Say Anything. My Pretty in Pink. My Sixteen Candles. And they had all come home to my heart. Isn’t it funny, the ones you thought would always be with you fly away. And the ones you thought would never come back, do with such love you wonder how you ever lived a day without them.

The photo is my treasure and I look upon it every day. Life truly is to be shared with our greatest friends.

Friday Fictioneers-You’re Not Their Mother

Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for the prompt for Friday Fictioneers. She’s addicted to purple, just like me. I hope you like my story. Not sure what the genre is. There are real people in it, but it’s no memory. Maybe wishful thinking on my part…

copyright-Jennifer PendergrastCopyright-Jennifer Pendergast

Lin and I sit in the stairwell, waiting for Ally and Claire.

“You love my daughters don’t you?”

“Of course I do. They’re all I have left of you.”

“You’re not their mother, I am.”

“I know that,  I have never tried to replace you. Ever.”

She looks at me with azure eyes; same color as mine. We could be sisters, she and I. We were, once.

Ally, dressed in her wedding gown ascends the stairs. Claire in tow. I stand up and give both of the girls a radiant smile. Lin touches my hand, and then her apparition fades.

Friday Fictioneers-A Winter Wedding on Smathers Beach

Thank you Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for the using my photo. I’m tickled to death about it! It was taken at public beach post 10 on Smathers Beach on the beautiful island of Key West. The bridge served as the wedding aisle for my Meggie and Chris on their big day.

Genre: Memoir


Meggie holds Daddy’s hand. Guitar music floats in the ocean air.  Mom stands at the end of the bridge that serves as the wedding aisle. Dressed in white, daughter smiles at Daddy says, “we better get moving.” He shakes his head and grins. He squeezes her close and starts the short walk to her husband-to-be. Sand in toes; waves lap the shore. Lemon-yellow, morning sun. Chris looks at his bride-to-be with adoration and love. Meggie takes his hand. Pledges of life and love are made. Dad slips his hand in Mom’s and whispers, “this is perfect. Everything is perfect.”

40 Days and WTF Happened to my Ass???

40 days till my Meggie marries the man of her dreams. He looks an awful lot like Eddie Vedder. His name is Chris.  My future son in law couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. If you listen to Eddie though, he sounds like he’s sucking on a few marbles when he sings. Which is just fine with me. I think he’s a golden god! I digress. Now back to Chris. The young man loves my daughter with everything he has, so I gotta love him too. I love him even more, because before he asked Meggie to marry him, he asked her dad.

The wedding plans are coming together. Not much to do. Get the dress there, get the license, and make sure that the bridal party gets off the cruise ship on time. We also need to get to the rented beach bungalow, hair/makeup/clothes, catch a taxi and make our way to where the ceremony will take place. Roger Darling is in charge of getting the wedding guests, family, groom and groomsmen to the beach by 10 am.

Roger sent me a text yesterday that said, I love you Mother of the Bride. I sent him a reply that said Olive u 2 Father of the Bride. We’re a couple of dorks, but we’re fun!

When I got home last night, I realized that Meggie’s dress will have to be cleaned and pressed. Then placed in its own suitcase for the trip. I started freaking the hell out. What if it gets ruined at the cleaners? What if the suitcase it’s in gets lost in transit? What if? What if? What if? Roger looked at me and said, Ah hell we’ll rent her a dress on the ship. I totally forgot we could do that. Phew!

In the last few weeks I’ve tried putting on and zipping up my size 12 pants. Seems I’ve grown out of the fuckers. I’m none too pleased by this development. If you’ve been following me for long you know I’ve gone through a huge weight loss. My body and mind have been transformed. The last two years have been quite the roller coaster. Through writing, I’ve been learning to adjust.

Recently I injured my back, got depressed, started drinking again and well, kinda fell apart. Little by little I’ve healed. I’ve recovered in almost every way. Except I still can’t fit into my fucking pants!

Now it’s back to the gym for Roger Darling and me. Time for us to get addicted to something healthy. And though I’m sore from doing 75 ab crunches and reverse sit ups and my legs feel like jello from learning how to run again, I’m elated. Fucking elated, I tell you!!!! I’ve got my gym clothes in the car and I’ll head there right after work today. It feels good to sweat. It feels good to run. It feels good to hurt from a workout. Fucking A it feels good!

I told Super Therapist today as I opened up my palm and pointed at it, “This right here in the palm of my hand is the world. I can do and be anything that I want.”

He just looked at me, smiled and replied, “Yes Renee, you most certainly can and you will.”

Happy Wednesday my sweets. Happy Wednesday. Go grab life by the balls, will ya?

The Dance Started Without Music

Let your life dance on the edges of time like dew on the tip of the leaf.-Rabindranath Tagore
Roger Darling and I are already on the dance floor. There’s a break in the music, but we continue dancing. I can hear our feet on the hardwood floor. Shuffle, shuffle and slide, slide. Back and forth. Then side to side. He guides me around the floor with his hand in the small of my back. My left arm drapes his shoulder. He holds my right hand in his left. There is no distance between us. The song begins and we continue to dance. He wraps both of his arms around me. I place mine gently around his shoulders and lock my fingers behind his neck. Other couples look at us. They can tell this isn’t our first slow dance. It won’t be our last. It’s been 24 years of slow dancing with him,  if you count the year of dating and our engagement.
It’s late in the evening, she’s wondering what clothes to wear
She puts on her make up and brushes her long blond hair
And then she asks me, Do I look alright?”
And I say,Yes, you look wonderful tonight
I know exactly where his feet are going  as he guides me around the floor. He sings in my ear. I close my eyes, and lay my head on his shoulder. I listen. I want to sing along, but keep my mouth shut for once. With my eyes closed, I still know where his feet will go. Where his feet go, mine easily follow. They always have. Whether it was on a dance floor or in life. He always made it so easy for me to follow his lead. 24 years later he still does.  Or does he follow my lead in life, while I follow his on the dance floor? I always say, I keep him young and he keeps me grounded.
We go to a party and everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady that’s walking around with me
And then she asks me, Do you feel alright?
And I say, Yes, I feel wonderful tonight
Shuffle, shuffle and slide, slide. Back and forth. Then side to side. We keep dancing. Keeping rhythm to a sweet classic song by Eric Clapton. It’s Sweetest Day. A Hallmark holiday. Roger Darling made it real for us though. The memory comes to me as we sway. 24 years ago he locked me in his car just before a Fireman’s Ball. He turns to look at me and says, “I’m not going to ask you to marry me on Christmas Eve.”  I stare back at him, convinced he’s breaking up with me. I’ve been down this road a time or two. I knew that it would end, because all good things did for me back then.  I’m shocked as he opens his coat and extracts a velvet box from the inside pocket. He hands it to me. Tears spill from my eyes. I open it to find the most gorgeous ring I have ever seen. My engagement ring. A solitaire encircled by twenty diamonds. Along with a wedding band encrusted with ten more diamonds. I’m speechless.
I feel wonderful, because I see
The love light in your eyes and the wonder of it all
Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you
Shuffle, shuffle and slide, slide. Back and forth. Then side to side. My head is still resting on his shoulder. He’s still singing in my ear. We keep dancing. And my mind wanders back again to 24 years ago. He says, “Honey, will you?” And I say, “yes.” I hand the box back to him and say, “you need to place the ring on my finger.” He removes it from the box and slides it on. It fits perfectly. I stare at it, in wide wonder. The diamonds look dazzling, even in the reflection of the overhead light in the car. We walk inside the dance hall where we meet Roger’s family and friends. I hide my hand from everyone for the first hour. We share the news with his parents first. Happiness and well wishes spread like wildfire and we dance the night away in celebration.
The song is almost over. I look up at Rog and tell him, “the night you asked me to marry you, I thought you were breaking up with me.” He smiles and says, “I know, but I didn’t.” I tell him, “no you sure didn’t.” We keep dancing. Familiar steps, made all the more familiar with all of the slow dances we’ve had over time. The song ends. He looks at me with all the love he had for me the day he asked me to marry him. He smiles and kisses me gently on the lips. We take each other’s hand and walk back to our seats.
It’s time to go home now and I’ve got an aching head
So I give her the car keys, she helps me to bed
And then I tell her as I turn out the light
I say, My darling, you were wonderful tonight
Oh, my darling, you were wonderful tonight

We’re just carrying on a Family Tradition

So don’t ask me
Hank, why do you drink? (To get drunk)
Hank why do you roll smoke? (To get high)
Why must you live out
The songs that you wrote? (To get laid)

Hank Williams Jr.

I understand the lyrics mentioned above don’t really pair well with a wedding story. If you knew my family you’d completely understand though.  We’re a little redneck, a little country, a little flannel. As Rog and I were preparing and baking Czech pastry on Friday night, it brought back memories of the preparation for our wedding. The realization that I was marrying into a great family. A big Czech family that didn’t stand much on ceremony. They include everyone. No matter if you’re blood or not.

For our wedding 23 years ago, we made pastry, stuffed cabbage, drank shots and beer, had parties to celebrate the impending wedding day. Cooked lots and lots of sauerkraut and sausage. Food and drink matter greatly in this family. It brings us closer. Gives us reason to celebrate. EVERYTHING! I digress. This story is actually about Travis and Alyssa. They’re young. They’re just starting their lives together. But I’ve never seen two people love each other as much as they do. I wish and pray for their marriage to be a successful one.

The ceremony was beautiful. A little long for a Presbyterian church. They did the sand ceremony. Of course Tete Nan and Uncle Jack had to help. The young couple were getting married on their grandparents 61st wedding anniversary. It was only appropriate that they include them. Tete had tears in her eyes. Uncle Jack beamed. Such happiness and good vibes bounced off every wall and every person in the church.

Then we get to the reception hall. It was good to see everyone dressed up. Shiny, happy. Warmed by the sun and a bit of alcohol. Of course the food was spectacular. The groom’s uncle is a chef. He definitely brought his A game where the food was concerned. With dinner finished, it was time to start the party.

In our family, it is tradition that the first song played after the typical wedding songs, is Family Tradition. By Hank Williams Jr. We stand arm in arm. All of us. We sing the lyrics. Loudly and proudly. We bring the new bride or groom into the fold. We sing the song to prove that we ARE in deed a family that stands on tradition. But we are not pretentious. We are rednecks, but we are progressive. We party. We are loud. We’ll embarrass the hell out of you. But above all we are a family.

We danced our asses off. Laughed and talked. Took pictures like crazy. Just enjoyed each others company. It was a great night. Good luck my dear Travis and Alyssa. May the marriage be as carefree and easy as the special day we shared with you.