Sunday at Jarry Park

Sunday at Jarry Park

Ilona Martonfi

“Oh! They are married.” Granddaughter Jessica twirls round and round. Sings: “Kiss. Kiss. Tam. Ta-Tam. Oh! She is so pretty.”

A wedding party is coming around the bend on a narrow gravel path. A photographer and a cameraman accompany the newly married Asian couple. Tell them where to stop. Where to stand. Two bridesmaids walk with the young wife. One is dressed in tomato red, the other in black lace. The maid of honour, in pale yellow. 

My grandchildren play hide-and-seek in the park. Amanda is ten, Jessica, seven, and Matthew five-years-old. The children run toward the couple. Laugh and giggle. The bride is lovely in a long, white satin wedding dress. The groom is wearing a black tuxedo.

My daughter Marisa sits on a low cement wall facing the pond. Blinking in the afternoon sun, she looks with indifference at all the commotion. Amanda sits down beside her mother and states in a matter-of-fact voice: “I guess she is marrying him because he is so handsome.” 

Marisa gives her a half-smile. I wonder what she is thinking. Twelve years earlier, it was her wedding day. October 8, 1988, she married Jeffrey. The bride Catholic, the groom Jewish. We gave her a traditional Italian wedding with three white limousines, a Rolls Royce, a photographer and a cameraman. Over a hundred guests danced all night to a trio band at Princess Buffet. The bride’s parents’ wedding gift, a key to her own house. 

I was still married then. I left my husband a year later, on the first wedding anniversary of Marisa and Jeffrey. They were expecting their first child.

I look at Marisa’s huddled body. Blinking in the afternoon sun, she doesn’t speak to young Amanda. Outpatient at Douglas psychiatric hospital. The medications are powerful. They also tranquilize her joy. She suffers from chronic lung sarcoidosis. Generalized anxiety disorder. Melancholia. She lives in an adult foster home under public curatorship.

Youth Protection court. Divorce court. Jeffrey obtained full custody. I supervise her children’s visits: “Owing to potential, accidental, harm to children.” 

Bees are buzzing at the open garbage can. We have an Indian summer in October. I call my grandchildren and we walk back to McDonald’s on St-Lawrence Boulevard. They romp and slide in the playroom. Jeffrey and his girlfriend Alicia pick them up at three o’clock. The Sunday visit is over. Marisa takes the metro back to the foster home in LaSalle. I catch a bus to my downtown studio.

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