Tia Gertrudes decided to take the matters into her own hands. Frustrated on the way events turned out in Frias, she had been adamant to make a big change on her son’s fate before the year ends. By hook or by crook.
“Rogelio, the future is still bright for you. I have agreed for an arranged marriage with my comadre’s daughter Rosanna, who turned 19. Her family lives in the next town.” Tia Gertrudes informed his son one morning.
“Pero Mama, I am only 23 years old,” Rogelio explained.
Por Dios por santo hijo! Viejo como una vaca! (You are as old as a cow). No, Rogelito! Here in Frias, nobody is too young to get married. Entiende?! I got married at 15 – a quinceneara! She voiced proudly.
She sauntered across the salon and gazed at her face in the mirror on the wall. She pinched her cheeks with her fingers and flashed a wide smile across her face. She was still amazed that the years had been kind to her. Then, she frowned.
“But too sad, I suffered two miscarriages. I lost hope. Your Papa and I prayed fervently to San Agustin. Finally, I had you when I was 39 years old. It was a miracle. You are what we called, a miracle baby!”
“And I guess, being a miracle baby it made me very special.” He replied in jest.
Rogelio knew her mother was right, but after the sad turn of events in his cousin’s personal life, he had a sudden change of mind about marriage.
Estas loco, primo Leo. Desculpe! He thought. (I am sorry cousin Leo, but you were a fool).
A few months later. ..
A cream-colored wedding invitation was sent to my house one morning. My mood lifted once I read it. My heart leaped up for joy. After I suffered the long months of missing my best friend Alegria, a new hopeful event was a good way to end the struggles that year.
As expected, for the first time in months something cheered the souls of the Frias townfolks.
Tia Gertrudes frantically searched for her rosewood flower brooch to put on her cap-sleeved A-line sequined dress. She ransacked the drawer of her tocador for a few minutes until she found the white box she had been looking, underneath the stack of her big black hair curlers.
“Ah, there it is! This is perfect for my dress, it goes with their wedding motif.” She exclaimed in joy as she stared at herself in the mirror. “Gertrudes, you are as beautiful as the first time you married that old man Antonio.”
Rogelio rushed inside her room.
“Mama, excuse me for a second. Can you help me put my cufflinks on?” Rogelio said.
Mama, wide-eyed, she looked at her son and smiled,
Madre Mia, Rogelio! Eres tan guapo! My cute little boy, at last, is going to be married!”
“I am so happy for you and Rosanna!”
Tia Gertrudes hugged him to the point of suffocation.
Rogelio’s soon-to-be-wife Rosanna Ferrer was a young accounting student from Doria, a small municipality outside of Frias. Her mother Cynthia – Tia Gertrudes’ long time friend, was a French immigrant who married a local man smitten by her foreign charms. For Tia, it seemed, no strong forces could prevent this wedding. These two matriarchs arranged this marriage which he considered a joke. Or so he thought. In Frias, being married was not a joke. He was against the idea, but she was desperate for grandchildren and nothing would get in the way of her plan.
Rogelio revealed the first time they met.
She had a good head over her shoulders, just like Mama. A steady, mature nature despite her young age. Perhaps, that quality made me second guess myself. Her curly brown hair had a nice way of blowing with the wind. Her mole on her left lower cheek just above the lips was like Marilyn Monroe’s. She was a little on a curvy side. Although she did not have the body of a magazine model nor an Olympic swimmer, when she talked and laughed in a soft voice, I was hypnotized. I realized, she was a natural beauty by herself. Soon enough, I fell in love.
Well, this Romeo had found his Juliet. Who would not be happy for them?
After a long, hot drought, once again, the church bells of San Agustin rung with burning fervor. “Ting! Ting! Ting!” The rising and falling sound pattern of the bell sounds echoed in town all day to announce the good news. Lovely flowers, little yellow bells, and pink roses filled the inside and outside of the church and were decorated in a rhythmic pattern along the aisles. The red carpet had been rolled out on the floor, along with beautiful fine silk white organza, which reminded me of my wedding in Paris. The courtyard with separate walls and a garden beside the church was lined with long white tables and chairs. They were designed with alternate pastel yellow and pink motif materials and ornamented with flowers. The front stage was carefully lined with cute flowerettes and balloons. The trees around the courtyard were embellished with curtain lights which sparkled like diamonds under the moonlight. These flickering lights were extended up to the main gate of the church that overlooked the villages in town.
The last time the parroquia had a wedding, it was ten years ago.
True, I was married to my husband Diego Soliman two years ago, but my grand wedding was held in Paris, and not in Frias. It was indeed a celebrated occasion, but the townfolks missed the big event. So, a dinner reception was held in town for them, without the fanfare. Our engagement was even announced and published in the society section of the big town newspaper. At the beginning of the new year, people came up with a guessing game – who will be the first couple to get married at Parroquia de San Agustin? Most young women were excited about it and put their best foot forward, yet some did not even care. The elder women were elated. The menfolks even bet their last money on it.