When I was 12 years old, my mom and I were driving home from the ice skating rink. She had worked all day, I had been skating all day, and we were both exhausted. We were about two minutes from our house when Danny's Song came on the radio. I was very familiar with this little ditty because my folks played it at their wedding. My father's name is Dan, and when they got married he was still young enough that most people still called him Danny. For their first anniversary, he made a cassette tape of all the songs from their reception. That was back in 1979, so cassettes were a pretty big deal. He called the tape La's Greatest Hits, 'La' being his nickname for my mom Linda.
My mom turned down the music and asked me if I had even really listened to the lyrics of the song. I paused, and in those seconds something clicked in my head. We had just pulled up in front of the house, but instead of getting out of the car, she turned to me. I was silently counting months. July, August, January, February… She started to unfold the story for me.
It was the day of her high school graduation. She was free at last! She was engaged to a man with a good job who just happened to be a very handsome and popular fellow. Life was good. After the ceremonies were over but before the parties began, she started counting, realizing that something was missing.
Their wedding date had been set for October 14th, but by that time it would be obvious. Instead of going out with her friends that night, my mother sat at home with her mother and scrambled to re-plan a wedding for the second Saturday in July. She had the sleeves removed from her wedding dress, not only because they were inappropriate for a summer wedding but also because her breasts had grown seemingly overnight, making them no longer fit properly.
At the wedding, my grandmother was the only person that knew, besides my father. When my parents danced to Danny's Song, she was furious at my mother. She thought people would figure everything out and think my mother was a slut and it was my grandmother's fault. Never mind the fact that up until that point, no one from my grandmother's family had gotten married before they had gotten pregnant. My mother was simply keeping up with the family tradition.
Until a few years ago, my other grandparents actually believed that I was born a month early.
After she finished talking, my mom grabbed my hand. She wanted to tell me all of this, she said, because she wanted to make sure I knew that I wasn't a mistake, and that she loved my father and was planning to marry my father with or without me. Once we went in the house, she took me into her room. From deep in her closet she pulled out a box. Inside were paper napkins and matchbooks that were inscribed with 'Danny and Linda October 14, 1978' just in case I didn't believe her.
Underneath all of the favors were the delicate lace sleeves from her wedding dress.
Fourteen years later. It was a Thursday in the middle of June around 5:30 in the morning. My clock radio goes off. What was playing? Danny's Song. As I made my way to the bathroom, I got a little flutter in my stomach. I had laid everything out the night before so that in my sleepy state I wouldn't forget anything. Pee on the stick, wait two minutes. As the pink line turned from one to two, the lyrics rang through my head.
Now I see a family where there once was none.
And we've just begun.
Yeah, we're gonna fly to the sun.
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