I happened upon my parents’ high school prom picture a few days ago while browsing through an old photo album. The black and white photo, even with its creases and cracks, captured the fresh faces of a group of teens, including a 17-year-old girl with wavy hair and round cheeks who I look a lot alike. She was seated next to an 18-year-old guy with whom I share many personality traits, including a complex sense of humor. My dad-to-be was a senior at Muskogee High School and his date, my future mom, was a junior. Yes, my folks truly were Okies from Muskogee.
May 25, Friday
I gasped and laughed out loud. What are the odds that May 25 would fall on a Friday and be marked with another fun occasion 62 years after my parents’ high school prom? But there it was, on a ticket in my wallet with Taylor Swift’s name in bold black letters.
I’d bought tickets as Christmas gifts for my 16-year-old and 23-year-old daughters with a third one for me. All those months ago I thought it would be fun to have this adventure with my girls and, happily, they agreed it would be great to have me tagging along. Coming upon that photo from all those years ago during this particular week, it seemed as if Mom was telling us, “Go and have a good time!”
I sat and held that photo for awhile, taking in all the details — the strapless gown and large corsage my mom wore, the narrow tie and white blazer that made my dad look so dapper, and the way my parents were properly posed with his arm around her tiny waist. They grinned ever so slightly, gazing out toward the photographer and, quite possibly, their future. I could only imagine what they were thinking in that youthful moment.
Franklin: I’ve got the prettiest gal in the place. Bet I score a kiss before the night’s over!
Gwen: I’m saving my big smile for when the music starts. Oh, I hope he knows how to dance.
I don’t know about that, but I do know that I’m relieved she said yes to going to prom with him and yes to his marriage proposal a year later. In the 49 years they were married before Mom died, they had four children and 11 grandchildren. Three great grandchildren have been added to our crazy group, along with several spouses and significant others.
Shake it off
Out of all of those people and relationships that my parents’ marriage made possible, three of them got to rock out on Friday, May 25 in Denver. My girls and I love to sing and dance and just be silly goofy when we’re together. For weeks, I’d worked on memorizing the lyrics to my favorite Swift song, “Shake It Off.” My teen fangirl convinced me that we had to dress up for the event. My other daughter responsibly packed a spare charger so our phones wouldn’t die before we got a gazillion selfies.
I’d actually apologized when I gifted my daughters the concert tickets in December because I’d only been able to afford seats in the top section of the stadium. They shook off my words letting me know they didn’t care where our seats were only that we were going, together. Still, I’d joked that we’d be sitting next to heaven that far up.
When I discovered that my parents went to prom 62 years ago on this date, there’s no section I’d rather have been in. Call me crazy, but I sensed Mom looking over our shoulders at the speck of a superstar way down below us. And call me biased, but I believe that I was with the prettiest girls in the place who, by the way, know how to dance.
Happy Promversary, Mom and Dad.