I spent much of my first year at University pulling all-nighters with my friends. We would raid the vending machine down the hall, try to stuff each other into the washing-machines and make plans to go bungee-jumping. I also had them draw me a hideously clichéd tattoo. Of course.
Some more time was spent figuring out how I might get inked without actually climbing the walls. The Plan involved getting drunk and stoned. What was the plan?
Anyway, my point is this. You can say I’m grateful for my heightened fright reflex. It has kept me from hideously clichéd, teenaged tattoos that seemed like ‘an amazing idea’ at the time.
I’d like to think my taste has changed. I used to be attracted to men who said ‘the sky’ when I said ‘what’s up?’ I thought they were sages. I’ve learned they were assholes. My point is, I’ve matured.
And so has my idea for a tattoo. For years, I’ve been thinking of getting a WWMD? on my wrist. Not for Marilyn. For Madelyn and Molly, my Grandmothers. And for me.
They were both Big Deals in my life, and their earthly absence has changed who I am and how I do things.
Every decision I’ve made, I’ve wondered what they think.
Don’t quit school, you’ll see. Thank God, he’s gone. He couldn’t even use a fork. Use a fork! We like that one, he’s the one. But I’m not sure about the cheese thing. Oh, go on. And always choose to dance.
I sit in front of Madelyn’s picture and ask her to guide me. To be with me. I have Pizzaiola for my birthday, but it’s never as good as Molly used to make.
I wish every day that all four of my Grandparents knew Sarge. They’d love him. A little weird, but so are you, they’d say. And so, good for them, they’d say.
I’m loving this wedding-planning thing. Really, I am. But every decision Sarge and I make is something else my Grandparents can’t share. And that’s hard for me. Really, it is.
When I chose a dress, I asked Dad, ‘Would Grandma like it?’
‘What would Nana think?’ I asked Mom on the phone. ‘Have you considered beading?’ she asked.
See, I haven’t been planning my wedding since I was six, but I always thought Madelyn and Chuck and Molly and Pete would be there. I made them promise.
I know that they held on as long as they could, that incomprehensible things made those pinky swears impossible to honour.
But the kid in me, the Granddaughter who lived to make each of them smile in their own ways, wants to cry: but you promised!
When I was a kid, I ploughed into them after playing Munckin Number 3 in the Wizard of Oz and then again after various talent shows. How’d I do? How’d I do?
I’d like to think, on my wedding day, sitting there with my husband, they’ll say: You did good, Lorna. You two keep dancing. We’ll be here. Now, about that tattoo…