Mysterious Ways: A Picture of Happiness

I couldn’t wait to tell Mom that I was engaged… but she didn’t have the reaction I expected.

by - Posted on May 5, 2014

Author's mother posing with author's huband-to-be decades earlier.

I never thought I’d marry again after my marriage of more than 20 years ended in divorce. In the decade since, whenever I got close to someone, I shut down and ran away. I vowed to never fall in love with anybody unless God slapped me upside the head and told me: “He’s the one.”

That’s why I didn’t tell Mom about Robert. She knew something had changed in my attitude this past year; I was happier than I’d been in a while, and I mentioned “seeing some man I met in square dancing class.”

One night, he took me out on my front porch and finally asked me to marry him. I owed it to Mom to tell her the good news in person.

I stopped by on my lunch break from work. Mom and I sat down in her living room. “I’ve finally found one I’m going to keep,” I said. “I’m engaged! His name is Robert. Robert Trifiletti.”

Mom’s expression was a mix of shock and confusion. Not the joy I’d expected. I told her how Robert had been assigned as my dancing partner. He was handsome, charming, and the more we danced, the more I learned about him.

He grew up not far away. He was divorced too, with a 10-year-old son. After a while, he asked me to dinner.

Mom nodded as I told her the story, but didn’t say much. What was that about? I wondered after I left her. When she’d heard Robert’s name, she nearly turned white. Does she know some terrible secret about him?

Later that week, I returned to get answers. Now, though, Mom was bubbling over with excitement. “I want you to look at that photo over there,” she said, pointing to a collage of pictures that had been mounted on the wall of our living room for thirty years.

“Which photo?” I asked.

“Look at the picture of you and Larry…”

My ex-husband. “All right, I see it.”

“Now look to the right. See anyone you recognize?”

Only Mom, sitting on a motorcycle in the lobby of the movie theater where she used to work as a cashier. The motorcycle was a promotion for a film, and as a lark, the projectionist helped her climb aboard. He posed beside her. “No, Mom, I don’t see anybody I know.”

“You’d better look again,” Mom said. “Because you’re fixing to marry him.”

Robert, the projectionist? It was true. In fact, Mom knew his entire family from her days at the theater. You might say that news slapped me upside the head.

Robert and I had hung side by side in that collage for thirty years. Now we’ve been side by side–as husband and wife–for eighteen more.

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