Monthly Archives: September 2009

Still recovering

How come no one warned me about how exhausted we would be AFTER the wedding? We conserved our energy in the weeks leading up to, but must have used it all up that night!
Sunday morning, the phone rang at 7:55 a.m. — my big bros were in the backyard, waiting to help Fred return the tables to the church. Two and one-half hours later, it was 10:30 a.m., and my phone was ringing again. I dragged my brain from its sleepy depths to answer; this time it was my brand-new son-in-law, Nick, asking if they could come over to open their gifts. Sure, just give me a few minutes…poor Nick couldn’t believe he’d woken me up. In the background, Anne was hooting — “I’m writing this down — the first time I got up before my mom.”
That was the first of three nights of 11 hours of conked-out, flat-out snoozing. Just couldn’t wake up. All week. Good thing I was on vacation. F and I slowly dragged from bed each day, and tried to wake up on our walk. Somehow, he made it to the fair nearly every day for BBBS. I, on the other hand, walked around in a stupor trying to figure out why the cobwebs in my head wouldn’t clear. Eventually, I figured that I could at least try some writing, and blessedly, that helped. Somehow, I was able to string together some fairly readable stuff. Maybe it’s like journaling — helps one clear the mind by self-expression.
Still, I found myself reading a lot of fluff — nothing too challenging — and each afternoon drifted into oblivion for 20-30 minutes. Naps — nonexistent in my previous life — became necessities if I was to be coherent when Fred returned from his booth at the fair. I felt guilty about my laziness until he admitted he’d done nothing but sit around all day.
After about five days of hitting the sack by 9 p.m., I began to feel more like myself again although my shoulder continued to feel horrid. Blame that on tense muscles — those, too, are slowly beginning to relax…or so I like to think.
Simple tasks are amazingly welcome when the mind is muddled — things like tying a string around a bunch of wedding flowers and then hanging them to dry, transferring a set of photos from a CD to Facebook, cleaning up my sewing room — something I usually hate to do but my mind was so blurry it didn’t remember that.
By the weekend, we were ready to face the remaining tables that needed to be returned, washed and sorted through the tablecloths and sarongs. Sorting, by the way, is a remarkably soothing task. Fools you into thinking you’ve accomplished something. Today I get to return the last of the textile pieces.
Now that we’ve semi-recovered, we can move on to new projects…like celebrating our own anniversary and remembering that day SO long ago when 33 family members witnessed our own backyard ceremony.

Perfect reception for the perfect wedding

Fully wedded, it was now time to become fully stuffed. Except by the time I got to the food line, all that was left was a pool of melting Dietsch’s ice cream balls, some cupcakes and mints. And nuts. Well…not exactly nuts. There were none but I knew there were some somewhere…we’d forgotten to put them out. Rooting through the pantry, I discovered the huge tin of mixed nuts, popped open the lid and took a huge handful before turning them over to the masses. By then, the crowd had a good sugar buzz going and needed some salt. What goes better with a good pinot grigio or, as Lindsay puts it, two buck Chuck?
Never did get to try Jo’s gluten-free brownies…I remember her coming to me in the receiving line with the
serving dish and about 1/2 of the brownies left. Apparently, they’d become a “child magnet” and she wanted to know if she should save them for any other gluten-free folks. Ooops. Thought they’d all been through the line — so sorry, Susie — so she released them to the little ones. Guess I’ll have to bake another batch for Susie Swartley because by the time she got through the line, they were gone.
Somewhere along the way, Coral and Amy — having more than fulfilled their duties as food queens — took off. Anne and Nick cut the top layer of their lemon/raspberry cake, and with the formalities completed, Alee got the music started. I do remember the first song — a Beach Boys tune, but can’t remember which one. Perfect beginning for the dance crowd to warm up. I never did dance — was too busy talking to people and….finally…relaxing. It was so much fun watching my little great-nieces and nephews trying to dance, as their poor parents tried to drag them back to their hotel. Ironically, I remember trying to do the same with our girls at the weddings of their older cousins (those who were now dragging off their own little ones).
Later, as the crowd thinned out, I sat back to watch who was hanging around…not just the younger crowd, but also some older relatives and neighbors — all mixed together. Fred had turned on all the little fairy lights and to my delight, we had achieved the Mamma Mia effect I’d hoped for.
A circle formed and toasts began with Dan Lambert, Nick’s friend from BG. Dan, a creative writing major, came through with a pre-written tome (which Anne and Nick later found among their wedding gifts) — it was the one thing that did make me a little teary. Funny how sentimental those guys can get.
Lindsay added her own — off the cuff, but perfectly worded — enough to start another lump in my throat. I’d have given my own, but I’d have never made it through.
By about 11 p.m., all that were left were Anne, Nick, Anne’s high school and work friends — all sitting in a circle, with Ellen, Lindsay, Eric, Fred, Reema and me watching from the background — wrapped up in blankets by then. By 11:45 p.m., all had left, Nick and Anne headed off to the CI, and Reema, Lindsay, Eric, Fred and I tried to do a little cleaning up before we crashed into bed around midnight.
As I drifted off, my unspoken toast echoed in my head…

One day long ago, the girls were still very young. It was a Saturday morning and they were glued to the morning cartoons. I came home from running to hear Fred — who was vacuuming — say to them. “I don’t care who you marry as long as he knows how to vacuum and do the dishes.” Nick, I’m happy to say, does both!
Nick, you stole my heart the first day we met. You got into the van, and handed me a CD you’d made of yourself singing — the first song you’d written for Anne. I still cry every time I listen to it. It is true — I have gained a son, not lost a daughter. Because Anne knows she stole my heart the day she was born, and will never be anything but my Best Anne. Love you both. Best Mom.

Preparing for a wedding

Our famIn retrospect, preparing for the wedding wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be. Because my middle name is Procrastinate, all the little things crawled out of the cracks during the last week. On the other hands, most of those things couldn’t have been done earlier.
Fortunately for me, reinforcements arrived on the Tuesday before the wedding: an angel by the name of Reema. Always did wonder what that name meant. Now I know. It had been years since Fred, Reema and I had made our pact that if anything happened to Fred or me while the girls were growing up, she would move in with the remaining one and help us raise them. She never had to do that, but she more than fulfilled her godmother duties by trekking me here and there to pick up all those last-minute items like the glads, snapdragons and daisies our garden no longer held in quantity, and the ribbons to tie around said flowers. She carried the heavy stuff, insisted I take it easy on the shoulder, gave me massages on a daily basis, sorted through her mom’s things until she found the exact tablecloth we needed and was quick to offer a hug when I was feeling stressed.
A few days later, the second round of reinforcements arrived…my big brother, John, and his wife, Rachel. She’d promised to finish up Anne’s dress by removing all my little basting stitches. What a relief! She and John had also agreed to make the watermelon baskets. I found out later that they watched several videos explaining the process before they cut into the “practice” melon. Apparently, my sister-in-law, Helen, and my 8-year-old niece, Kendra, helped with cutting up the fruit — Kendra was entranced by the melon baller.

My next worry was how Fred would get the tables and chairs, but when it came time to fetch the tables from the church, and the chairs from the funeral home, two more big bros, Phil and Tom, offered their muscle power. In fact, they also offered to return early Sunday morning to help return the tables before Sunday school. Good thing….we’d have slept straight through SS had they not called us at 8 a.m. from our back yard.

Friday afternoon as I was trying to stay cool while drying my hair — read, not wearing much so as not to sweat…another sis-in-law, Karen, showed up. Boy, was I glad to see her for a few reasons — mostly just because I love her but also because she calmed me down (we spent time trying on sandals when I should have been dressing), but also because her arrival meant that my other big bro, James — our key musician (i.e., keyboardist and vocalist) had arrived with his Kurzweil. That in itself was a miracle — or so I thought. James and Karen had had problems finding the battery in the keyboard and finally scoured the Internet to figure out the replacement process.
I’m still trying to figure out how I got so lucky to have such wonderful brothers and sisters-in-law. Somehow they found time in their busy schedules to travel from all over (AZ, Kansas, and Virginia) not only to attend the wedding, but to lend support. When I was a kid and they were teasing me nonstop, calling my names like Mirpeth, and insisting that the cat’s name was Felix, not my favored Fluff, I would never have believed I’d someday be glad to see them!
About that time, the food began to arrive for the wedding…much of which was donated by friends and relatives. One sister-in-law brought three pies, my 87-year-old mother baked three pies with REAL crust, my beloved running partner fulfilled Anne’s request for the same butterscotch cookies she’d baked for Anne’s graduation party, another friend made 500 mints, my friend/cousin-in-law baked (at a last-minute request) some gluten-free fudge brownies, and Nick’s sister baked the wedding cake and cupcakes.
Thanks to Dave Andersen — Nick’s dad, and the officiating minister — the rehearsal went off without a hitch. Nick’s mom, Ellen, was right when she said Dave does the best weddings. Of course, we might have been behaving because we knew that Jeannie Previte was waiting for us at her restaurant — just the perfect ending to a fun day, and a great way to relax for the day to come. Anne and Nick were good sports as we all told stories about them and offered toasts in their honor.
As everyone cleared out and headed home, Anne, Lindsay, Fred and I got to spend the night alone with each other although I’ll admit Fred and I crashed long before the two of them. We drifted off to sleep as the two of them giggled and hooted from the attic, where they were sorting through their “stuff” and sifted through childhood memories that only the two of them truly understand. For Fred and me, it was yet another reminder that we must have done something right during their childhoods to make them such good friends.