I have never been enamored by large weddings set in huge impersonal ballrooms filled with faceless guests, round tables cluttered with food and mementos and gifts and hard liqueur. The wedding party puts on a Hollywood extravaganza highlighted by cute and clever presentations by the “best” man and/or “maid of honor”, a professionally crafted slide show injected with short videos and mood music detailing the flight from birth to the present moment of the bride and groom, shrewdly weaving in an authentication of how perfectly matched they are and how they are destined to a life of happiness and success and money and success and more money. Your joints get frozen seated immobile for four hours imprisoned by the long drawn out dinner, presentations, and testimonies. And if the story would just end on the promises and trickery presented on that wondrous day, it would indeed be perfect; tears of joy trickling down our cheeks, love conquers all and marriage is for eternity. But we all know that half of all marriages end in divorce, and many others hang on for dear life. The metamorphosis of a relationship from the best of friends to the worst of enemies occurs all to often to be of any interest. Nevertheless, on this glorious day, we remain positive and hope for the exception and not the rule.
The above was indeed NOT the picture displayed on a beautiful day late in July at my son’s wedding with Sonja. A smallish affair – 60 at most, friendly folks all mingling between families, surprisingly fit and young at heart and in behavior, a wedding carefully planned at a beautfiul lavender farm in Sequim, Washington……a stones throw away from Port Angeles and the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia. Mostly family members and friends from the bride – Sonja – her mother and other members of her family living close by, but there were enough from the groom’s side including me – his father, his sister and her family with three beautiful nieces playing the part of the flower girls at the wedding and dancing with grandpa and others who could easily qualify as great grandpas. Also, three really good friends for life of my son’s, four best-est of friends of mine who also love DJ….Phil and Miriam, Buzz and Nan, and my three older sisters who trekked all the way from the East Coast to attend this celebration which also qualified as a long needed family reunion.
My son David was genuinely happy; I know Sonja was also very happy. Her family, bouncing, boisterous and filled with joy, loud with elation, neither shy nor restrained. The soft string music echoed from two local looking musicians setting the pace and flavor of the afternoon. Pictures do tell the story - I promise many more hopefully soon, the serenity and privacy of the lavender farm was set on the backdrop of a perfect sunny crisp Washington state afternoon. Both my son and his wife to be were alert and standing tall, exchanging their vows handsome and flawless, the joy oozing from them spilling over and enveloping their surrounding guests. The designer wedding declarations were short, tasteful and to the point, the ring bearer was Sonja’s obedient and loving dog, Jackson. This was strictly a family affair, the best man and maid of honor, Sonja’s sister and brother, the wedding service administered by Sonja’s aunt, her mother reciting a few phrases which frankly escaped my attention as I was focused and fixated on the excitement of the moment, the setting, the smile of my son’s face, on the loveliness of his wife to be, on the commitments that were being made, expected to last a lifetime.
The simplicity of the service reminded me of my own wedding 44 years ago, set in the beautiful home of my wife, Scherer’s mother, Frances, on Main Street, in Mount Airy, North Carolina, in a beautiful colonial house large enough to easily swallow the small group gathered together for the ceremony and celebration. That was a warm and intimate wedding, much like this one and the wedding of my daughter, which was in held in a cave in San Francisco, another story worth telling at another time.
But neither my son’s nor my daughter’s wedding could be attended by their mother who passed exactly 19 years ago this day. A loving mother who had it all, would have done anything in the world for her two children whom she dedicated much of her life to raise, who was taken away from us before her time, leaving the permanent void that thwarted the possibility of sharing the joy and happiness of the wedding with a fully intact family. I’m certain however, if she were here in flesh and bone, she would be just as happy and joyful as I am. And I must admit to still feeling her strong celestial presence as I call upon her at times for strength to meet the challenges of the day, to guide me properly and to protect our children. I truly believe she has been watching over us these last 19 years. Could she have also been there with us at our children's weddings enjoying the moment and sharing in the joy and happiness? The answer is a resounding yes.....I don't think she would have missed it for the world!