Suzy and Red sat together on the couch of their family’s home, surveying the “keep” pile, deciding what to take to their new condo in an assisted living center.
At the age of 88, they were both healthy but needed a facility that could take care of any medical issues that arose. But they were melancholy about leaving the home that had been in their family for decades.
Their great-granddaughter Jackie spent days sifting through the boxes, furniture, keepsakes and junk in the attic and marked everything keep, donate, sell or garbage before she and her mother moved into the house.
The “keep pile” mostly consisted of scrapbooks, photo albums and other mementos. Suzy took one of the scrapbooks from the boxes and thumbed through it, fondly looking through each page.
She was a meticulous scrapbooker, chronicling every aspect of their 70 years together with programs from fairs, ballgame and amusement park tickets, postcards and posters from her life in the USO, dried flowers Red gave her, along with albums of pictures and piles of letters they wrote to each other during the war, carefully wrapped in ribbons.
Suzy even pieced together remnants of the lives of Red’s family with relics and tokens left in the dusty old attic, including programs dating back to the 1893 and 1933 Chicago world’s fairs.
“Hey, I remember that. It’s in New York where we first met,” Red said glancing over her shoulder at the pictures in the scrapbook.
“Actually dear, that was the Hollywood Cantina where the girls and I performed. We met at the New York Cantina,” Suzy smiled, gently correcting him.
“Oh yes, you’re right, I think the bar and the stage in New York were switched,” he laughed.
“No, they weren’t,” she said under her breath, so he wouldn’t hear.
Red and Suzy met when he was a young sailor in WWII and she was a USO singer. While he navigated the Pacific on an aircraft carrier, she traveled the USA, singing a single night or two for the troops in USO cantinas from New York to Miami and all the way to Hollywood.
“Look, here are the pictures from our wedding. It was such a beautiful hotel. I still can’t believe all those nice people put it together for us in just a few hours,” Suzy smiled as she closed her eyes remembering the wedding in her mind, just like it was yesterday.
“Yeah, good thing that tourist at the hotel had a camera to photographed it for us,” Red said.
“Well, it was a newspaper reporter,” Suzy said sweetly and tapped his hand lightly.
“Oh, that’s right,” he laughed.
“Here’s a picture at Peg’s christening. I was so glad we could put her in the christening dress your grandma Maggie made for your father,” she said admiring it. “Jackie left the heirloom box in the attic. Maybe someday her children will wear it.”
“Yep, Maggie made it good enough to last and bring all the McIntyres into the world in stylish Irish lace. Look at Father Murphy, he looks so young there,” Red said.
“He does look young, but that’s Father O’Malley. Remember he left when Peg was a little girl. I think he went to Africa on a mission or something,” Suzy said gritting her teeth with a little annoyance, shaking her head at his forgetfulness.
“And here’s the first TV we got for the house,” Suzy said looking at the writing on the back of the picture. “This says it was 1950.”
Oh yeah, that old trusty Admiral. It was a lot of money for $250 but a great deal. We got the 12.5” picture tube, plus the Dynamagic, AM/FM radio with rotoscope antenna and the phonograph turntable. And it had great sound with the quad hi-fi stereo speakers and 20 watt amplifier,” Red said.
Suzy widened her eyes and looked at him puzzled in astonishment of the detail in which he remembered the television components.
“Wow, there’s a locket picture of Grandma Maggie,” he said.
Suzy took an irritated deep breath and looked at him. “That’s your daughter Peg, not your grandmother,” she said.
He chuckled. “Wow, I always said there was an amazing family resemblance. They look like twins.”
“Well, at least you’re right about that. The black and white picture doesn’t show the red hair or green eyes, but yes, even their faces were amazingly similar. And their Irish temper,” Suzy remarked.
After going through all the photo albums and scrapbooks, Suzy sealed the boxes to go to the new condo. She sighed, looking around the house for one of the last times.
“We’re leaving our family home, but will take all the memories with us.”
“Yes, I lived in this grand old house my whole life. I think my grandpop paid $2,025 for the Sears Honor Bilt homes kit and built it himself. But I’ll be glad to hand it over to our granddaughter, so it stays in the family. We had some great times here,” he smiled and pinched Suzy on her bottom.
She shook her head and kissed him.
“Well at least you remembered where that was.” Suzy laughed while Red puckered his brow with an inquisitive look.
“How can you remember the detailed specifications and cost of our first TV in 1950 and the price of your grandpop’s home in 1920, but you can’t recognize our old priest, where we met or the difference between your grandmother and daughter?” Suzy laughed.
“Easy, I have a brain for figures, like yours,” he said and embraced her.
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2022
Author’s Note: Everyone forgets things, but I’m glad Suzy and Red never forgot how they felt about each other. This is a snippet of the short story Epilogue from The Sailor and the Songbird: A Timeless American Historical Romance Book 1. This series features the sagas of love of the McIntyre family amid the backdrop of events in the 20th century. The full bridge epiologue story, referencing the first two books and previewing the third book is available to newsletter subscribers. Subscribe on the home page and it will be sent to you.