Before leaving for work Sunday, my parents sat together in the kitchen, conducting their post-church activities of eating breakfast and watching the news.
Slinging on my jacket and picking up my briefcase at the other end of the kitchen, I was getting ready to head out the door when a feature on the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination came on.
My parents watched as they sipped their Wawa coffee and spread cream cheese on their bagels.
As it ended, my dad asked my mom, “Where were you when you heard about it?”
“I was in typing class,” my mom replied.
“I was in school,” Dad said.
“Well, so was I. I was in class,” Mom reiterated. They do that sometimes.
At this point, I turned back around. I wasn’t going to get to the newsroom as early as I wanted to, but I realized I’d never asked them about this before. And, apparently, my parents, married for 26 years, hadn’t asked each other.
They’d been in their early teens at the time, my dad in a parochial school in Philadelphia, my mom in another Catholic school in a small town north of Pittsburgh, hundreds of miles apart.
“They just told us that he’d been shot,” Mom said.
“I was in class and someone came in and told us all to come to the church to pray,” Dad said.
The students were hustled to the church and prayed for a while for the country’s first-ever Catholic president. My dad didn’t say how long.
“Then someone came in and said he’d died,” Dad conlduing, only adding, “And then we stopped.”
A quiet moment passed.
Picking up a circular from the newspaper, my dad pointed to one of the colored ads promoting a sale.
“Naval oranges, $2 a pound,” he said to my mom, with a renewed cheeriness.
“Oh, we’ll have to get some,” my mom replied, taking my dad’s offering to come out of the dark past.
The television went to a commercial touting “Meet the Press.” I said goodbye, which seemed to remind my parents that I was there, and left for work.