Saturday, February 25, 2012
Grandma and the Prince - Part 33
<--Mona at age 16
My aunt Mona was a lot like her mother, my Grandma El. They both loved men and the men loved them right back. The air around them swirled with love and romance right into old age.
I guess it wouldn't surprise you if I told you that neither woman was a stranger to whirlwind romances. Grandma El had more than her share but when it came to wild, crazy, romance-novel-worthy adventures, Mona was the undisputed champion. I was eight or nine years old when I first became aware that my very own aunt was a better source of heartstopping love stories than any Hollywood movie or sneakily-stolen-from-my-mother's-nightstand novel I had yet stumbled upon.
The year was 1958. Mona was maybe thirty at the time, a sexy, successful Manhattan career woman with a fabulous social life when she and her BFF, Justine, went down to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a week in the sun. One night over cocktails and dinner on the beach she met a tall, blond, blue-eyed rocket scientist (you just can't make this stuff up!) who worked at (hold on!) Cape Canaveral for NASA. Mona, who was petite with dark hair and eyes, had always been a sucker for tall, blond, blue-eyed men and she fell hard for Jim. Very hard. So hard that when her vacation was over, she flew back home, quit her job, then flew back to St. Thomas where she and Jim married!
Yes! Quicker than Kim Kardashian, my aunt Mona met and married a gorgeous, brilliant scientist she barely knew. She waved goodbye to all of us and moved to Cocoa Beach to be a NASA wife. It was the most drop dead romantic thing my little girl heart had ever fluttered over. I loved her postcards from Cocoa Beach. Her newsy letters filled with talk of astronauts and rocket launches, all of which were a far cry from anything going on back home in Queens. Even better, we had an open invitation to visit any time we wanted. I mean, could it get any more perfect than that?
<--Mona at 40 with my mother
That was in June. Cut to Labor Day weekend when a white Chevy with Florida plates screeched to a stop in front of our house and my aunt Mona tumbled out in a flood of tears and empty paper coffee cups.
It was over. The romance. The fantasy. The marriage. O. V. E. R. Ninety days from start to finish. I remember her sitting on the foot stool in my parents' living room, spilling a story I was probably still too young to understand, then toppling over to the floor in a dead faint from a combination of exhaustion and high emotion.
Over the years I heard two versions of the story of her marriage and to this day I'm not sure either one is the true story. One version said Jim slapped her in the face during an argument and she took the car keys and walked out, never to return. The other version said he surprised her when he said he didn't want children and she took the car keys and walked out. Which one is the real deal? Your guess is as good as mine. Mona never remarried.
The funny thing, though, is they stayed in touch through the years until Jim (who never remarried either) died in the late 1980s. They even rendezvoused a few times in St. Thomas over the decades. Was it love? Friendship? Red-hot chemistry that defied reason? Oh, how I wish I knew.
I'm a romance writer. Happy endings are in my blood. In a way maybe Mona and Jim managed to create one for themselves after all, one that didn't look the way I had expected it to. I hope so.
PS: I'm Barbara Bretton and if you'd like to win a signed copy of one of my books, just leave a comment and I'll announce 5 winners next month! Thanks for reading.
Posted by Barbara Bretton at 12:00 AM