I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
Peggy’s mother, Mary, answered and said “Hello Michael.” She didn’t invite me in, but smiled and I kind of smiled back.
I had dated Peggy for three years, starting at age 14. We had gone steady, but broke up a half dozen times, but I always thought we’d end up getting hitched someday. Particularly, after I was drafted and became an officer in the army.
And then I got that fateful message from my mother. I was in Ft. Polk, Louisiana, when I called from a pay phone back to Philadelphia and heard the devastating news.
“Peggy got married,” Mom said. I asked her what that meant and soon I learned Peggy McPeake married a fellow who operated a pizza store in the old neighborhood. He might have been an Armenian and not a Greek like me, I seem to recall.
I also recalled how I felt a stake was shoved through my chest. I couldn’t breath and I felt I was going to pass out right there.
“How is she?” I asked Mary as she opened the door to her house, my heart in my hand. “Oh, the baby’s fine,” she said. “The baby’s just fine.”
“That’s great” I said finally realizing she was talking about her granddaughter. Not my Peggy. My Peggy no longer lived there. The Peggy I knew got married. That new Peggy was now a full-fledged mother and the wife of someone other than me.
I was never invited into the house where I had spent so much of my teenage years. I wanted to see the inside one more time, but I knew it would have been inappropriate for me to ask to come in.
It’s over, Michael J. The romance is over and the door is about to close on it for good. Walk away with your pride intact, young man. Don’t look back because she might see you crying. And a soldier in the United States of America on his way to war can’t let anyone see how wounded lost love could make him feel.