“Hey You” - The Girl Without a Wedding
Margaret (aka Maggie) Criscera is 89 years old. She was born and raised in Carbondale, PA, has 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. She was married to Patrick (aka Patsy) for 66 wonderful years. Maggie is my grandma and let me tell you - this 89 year old Italian women has some very interesting stories to share! This is my favorite....
I asked my Grandma one day, “Where was your wedding?” She abruptly replied, “In a church!”
I chuckled a bit realizing that it was to be assumed (according to my Grandma) that everyone got married in a Catholic Church by a Catholic priest. I re-phrased my question. “I mean where was the reception - the party after the ceremony?” She then chuckled and merily said, “Oh honey, Grandma didn’t have a wedding like that!” (Grandma loves to talk in the third person.)
WHAT?!?!?! How could this be??
I was stunned not only because my Grandma never had a wedding reception but also because she found it humorous! Listening to her story, I eventually shared her laughter - and learned an important lesson.
When Maggie was 18 years old, she was on her way home from work one day when she heard someone shouting, “Hey You!” She initially ignored it and kept on walking.
Again the man’s voice called out, “Hey You!” She finally stopped and turned around to see the Milk-Man following her. “Are you talking to me?” she asked, feeling a bit annoyed.
The man smiled and replied, “Yes - are you Maggie?”
“Yeah - I’m Maggie. What do you want?” (Note that my Grandma tells it like it is, gets to the point and doesn’t sugar coat anything.)
“I’m going to take you out later tonight. I’ll pick you up at your house,” the man said confidently.
“Oh no you’re not! I’m sure my father won’t allow that!” she retorted.
“Your father said it was OK. I already asked him,” he replied victoriously.
“And how do you know my father?” Maggie asked, now feeling even more irritated.
“I’m your Milk-Man!” he said proudly.
“You’re not MY Milk-Man - you’re my mother’s milk man. I don’t know you,” she snarked and then continued walking home.
When Maggie arrived home, her mother was in the kitchen making pasta. Maggie told her what had happened and ended with, “Can you believe he thinks he is going to come here and take me out?” Her mother sheepishly informed her that she and Maggie’s father already knew about the Milk-Man and his intentions to take her out and, indeed, they had given him permission. Furious, Maggie did the only thing that she could - she got ready for her date.
The Milk-Man was, of course, my Grandpa, Patsy. That stubborn Milk-Man did pick my Grandma up that night and took her to a movie. Three years later, they got married - in a most unusual way.
There was no planning involved, no flowers, no wedding planner, no bridal party, no wedding dress. My grandparents woke up one day, called the church and made arrangements with the the priest who told them to show up at 7pm that evening and he would marry them. That’s it.
The most exciting part of the wedding day was that my Grandparents thought that they were going to have an intimate ceremony, just them and the priest. However, when they showed up to the church, the whole congregation was there for a 7pm mass! At least they had a few guests.
After the wedding, people in the church were congratulating them and asking them where they were going on their honeymoon. “It’s a secret,” my Grandma replied, knowing full well that there would not be a honeymoon and that they were headed straight to tell her parents what they had done. When I asked if she felt disappointed that they would not be taking a trip anywhere, she informed me that “There was really nowhere else to go, anyway.”
When they arrived at Maggie’s parents house, her mother was in the kitchen making pasta. I always assumed that this was her mother’s full time job as every time my Grandma mentioned talking to her, she was always making pasta.
Maggie told her mother that she would not be staying at home tonight. Her mother, shocked, asked, “And where do you think you are going?”
“I’m going to stay with Patsy tonight. We are married now.” I have a vivid mental picture of her mother chasing her with a wooden spoon and calling frantically for her father - who already knew what had happened.
The rest of the story is history but what I learned from Maggie and Patsy is something that I will carry with me forever.
One of 18 children, Maggie understood what the value of a dollar was, and she made sure that I always knew that too. Her sisters all had big weddings and she saw how her parents’ struggled to pay for them. She did not want to put her parents in any more debt, nor did she want to have debt herself. She couldn’t justify the expense of a “big fancy wedding” because the most important part of getting married is who you are getting married to! My Grandpa loved my Grandma unconditionally and his family embraced her as their own. She always says that she has no regrets and that she is thankful to have lived a long and happy life full of love, laughter and family!
Being a wedding planner, I initially couldn’t wrap my brain around someone not even having their parents present at the wedding, let alone not having a reception. However, after hearing my Grandma’s story - a TRUE love story - everything made sense. Marriage is not about the wedding - it’s about the love and commitment between two people. Remember that, and your wedding will be a dream come true no matter how you choose to celebrate it!