When I was a kid, our first family dog was Molly, a wire-haired terrier mutt with a vague resemblance to a Gremlin and the countenance of an estate heiress. Her namesake was the Molly Pitcher Inn, the 20s-era banquet hotel perched on the banks of the Navesink River and known for its decadent brunches.
At the Molly, my single mom waited tables to support my sister and me. I remember her gorgeous as she left for work in a crisp, white button-down, her dark hair swept into a French braid. As it happened, the Molly would change her future, and by extension, my own. There, she met the smart, wisecracking bartender who would become my dad. In the parking lot after a shift, he fashioned a makeshift ring of cherry stems and glass. The real ring would come later, along with the two brothers (and namesake terrier) that made our family complete.