Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Smitten

Thank you for the
photo, Michelle Adams
This past Sunday our oldest daughter was married.  Leading up to the wedding people kept asking me if I was nervous, excited, scared, etc.  No, what I really felt was just the need to make sure the events would come off smoothly, everyone would have a good time and our daughter would feel the day was a realization of her wedding day dreams.  It was only during the ceremony that I stopped to really look at her and her young man.  It started as we walked up the aisle, my husband, our daughter and I.  I looked ahead to see the groom’s face awash in love and adoration and, quite obviously, bordering on tears.

My husband says our daughter’s new husband is smitten – that’s such a funny word.  Most definitions reference a negative force, but there is the one:  very much in love.  After 36 years, I believe my husband and I are still smitten with each other and, if this young man is smitten with our daughter, well, that’s just fine with us.

As I looked from the groom to our daughter, I was struck by the change in her.  First, she looked so Asian!  The kids often use that same phrase when referring to themselves in photos and I always think it’s funny.  Of course they look Asian; they are Asian.  But thinking this myself on Sunday was because the woman who did our daughter’s make-up enhanced her Asian features.  She is naturally beautiful, but Sunday she looked almost exotic.  Second, as I watched her stand beside the man she has chosen, as she spoke her vows and responded to the officiant’s questions, I realized just how grown-up she has become.  She’s a funny, goofy girl and, even though we know she’s no longer a child, it’s easy to think of her in those terms.  Sunday, it was quite clear that she stood at the alter, not just a funny, goofy girl, but also a woman.  The way she looked, the way she spoke, the way she walked, the way she stood erect and beautiful all said, “Woman,” – an intelligent, graceful, loving woman.
Thank you for the photo, Jim Simpkins


Oh yes, and she seems “smitten”, too.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Orphan and Elder

Our neighbor’s mom recently passed away.  This was the last to die of the couple’s four parents.  While I still have a step-mother-in-law, who is a wonderful MIL, grandma and friend, I remember the feeling when the last of our four parents had passed away and, specifically, when the second of my parents died.  I remember the heavy realization that now we are the elder generation.  We will be the next generation to die.

I had felt this somewhat after my mom’s death when I realized family gatherings were now my responsibility.  I’d been an adult for years, but it was still disheartening to realize I now had to be the true adult in those situations; I could no longer attend as a child.  It was now my job to coordinate, plan, and steer the events through to a pleasant ending for everyone.

At the same time I realized I was the elder, I also strongly felt the loss of my parents.  No longer would I be someone’s child.  No longer would there always be someone for me to turn to.  No longer would someone wake up on my birthday, think first of me, and realize how special that day is.  In reality I was now an orphan.

As I spoke with my neighbor’s wife and voiced these thoughts, she nodded her head in understanding.  I don’t think this is an understanding we anticipate.  I think this is an understanding that, sadly, comes to us with this enormous loss.

An orphan and an elder – I’d rather not be either.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I Never Thought I'd Say That

Four of my kids had already left
by the time this photo was taken.
This past weekend we hosted a “West Coast” family reunion for my husband’s mom’s family.  Some of the folks who came are people we’re close to; others we see only at these types of events.  Growing up, my family held a reunion every summer at a grange hall central to most families.  As a child, I loved these events.  They were a time to play with my cousins – play that included running through the nearby field without anyone being worried about traffic (since there wasn’t any) and making up and performing “shows” on the real stage that was the centerpiece of the hall.  As I grew up, I tried to avoid the reunions or any other gathering that smelled of reunion.  I no longer wanted to run through the fields (silly me) or pretend to perform on a stage and I certainly didn’t think I needed to spend my day visiting with people I didn’t even know.  My mom never made me attend, but she’d often say things like, “I’d really like it if you went,” or “It would mean a lot to me.”  I swore I would never say such things to my kids.  Well, as in so many other things in life, my thoughts on reunions and family events have changed over the years and last week I found myself sending all of my kids an email in which I wrote, “It would mean a lot to me for you to be there.”  Even as I wrote it, I marveled that I was doing so.  And was it true?  Did it really mean a lot to me for my kids to be there?  It did.  Not only did I want to see them, but also I wanted others to have an opportunity to see them, to maybe reconnect a little.


The event turned out great.  Six of my seven kids were here for at least a couple of hours.  One of the couples that is our age spent the weekend with us and their son and daughter-in-law stayed overnight at the last minute.  We sat around the table talking and laughing until our sides hurt.  Not only was I happy my kids showed up, but also I was happy these other young adults showed up.  We may not seem to have much more in common than an ancestor, yet, often, that is enough and, perhaps, that is something we understand more fully as the years go by.