METAMORPHOSIS


We all have stress in our lives; some is good stress and some is not so good. A prospective wedding can be both in terms of stress. I remember both my daughters stress level before their big day. While perusing Webster’s dictionary, I discovered that there were several definitions for the word “Metamorphosis. “a striking alteration in circumstances” seems to fit that situation. Nothing seems to go the way planned, but at the last-minute, everything perks along just fine. For some prospective brides or grooms, the sense of doom crashes down while walking down the aisle. Only the brave or the foolish continue walking.

It’s an unnatural time for most of us. The sometimes months long preparation, the economic guilt, the frayed emotions erupting into meltdowns should send the happy couple off to elope in a far away place by themselves.

The photos of the joyous couple with mile wide smiles hurrying to get on with things, were not photos of me seventy-two years ago. At eighteen and twenty, we were children who thought they were grown up enough to handle the adult world. I will admit that I for one, doubted it. It wasn’t the first time I was wrong of course, nor the last. We have watched too many marriages come and go, and I am pleases to say that after 72 years with the same handsome guy, and after producing children, grandchildren and great=grandchildren, life is still good. On September 7 I will make him his obligatory bowl of oatmeal, give him a kiss and wish him many more days sitting across from the same girl who wasn’t quite sure it would work out. Happy Anniversary Doctor Advice, I couldn’t have done it without you.

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A FLURRY OF BIRTHDAYS


prairegirlsspring

It seems that this week contains the celebration of birthdays–not mine, but I get to be part of the celebrations which is even better.

Yesterday’s luncheon on the island (Alameda) was in honor of two 87 year old high school friends, and Friday’s soiree is for a couple of 70 somethings. We were missing one of our group yesterday. It seems that she got a wrong number the night before at her home, and while in the midst of explaining that they had reached the wrong person, she got a coughing spell, which alarmed the caller to the point that they called the police to come take a look at her. The first she knew of it, the police were shining bright lights through her front windows and pounding on her door! Nice to know there are still strangers who care, but still she elected to opt out of our gathering the next day. Maybe she was still coughing. Who knows? She missed a lively party complete with small fancy cakes and the whole restaurant singing the “Happy Birthday” song.

Speaking of the police, the husband of one of our birthday girls had been a policeman. She related the story of a peeping Tom who kept showing up wherever she happened to be for a week or so. Her husband had been in the hospital for a few weeks when she first noticed the peeper. After the husband came home and was resting on the sofa one evening, the guy came to their front door. Her husband leaped from the sofa, grabbed his gun and chased the fellow down the street while streaming expletives at him. They never had any more problems along those lines.

I had a phone call from my much younger cousin the night before asking the date of my anniversary. It is about to be 68 years, and she mused that I had been married nearly her whole life. She had been a flower girl tossing rose petals up the aisle in her white dress our grandmother had made. An adorable little redhead whose braids were wrapped around her head European style. She told me it was the first wedding she had been to, and I told her it had been my first as well. One of the ladies yesterday had been in our wedding and I would have asked one of the others but she got married the week before me.

Since I was such a wedding novice, and our was shaping up to be the “wedding of the century”, I had fits of terror and tears beginning at about 1 p.m. My father, at a loss as to what to do about this dramatic display, assured me that I did not have to go through with the affair, even though the trap had been set: flowers and cake and gifts already arrived and in place. Nevertheless, I made an appearance at 4 o’clock on my father’s arm still dripping tears throughout the service while wiping my nose on the back of the wrist of my lovely borrowed dress which a cousin had lent, and the future Dr. A. whispering “Stop that!”

IMG_20140821_0001 That’s me on the right on our graduation day.

Our waitress, who takes care of our group regularly, is clearly amused and bemused by the sight of 8 ladies of a certain age who still connect to renew old memories. She was fascinated yesterday by the story of one of our group telling about the time she found an orchid on her front porch delivered for her husband’s birthday from an old girlfriend of his. She and the girlfriend had the same name, and were referred to as “old Helen” and “new Helen”. The orchid was from “old Helen”.

I plumbed their memories about a girl who insisted upon calling Dr. Advice at his office and at our home after we married. She had been some other fellow’s girlfriend in High School so there wasn’t a personal connection, but I guess she was just hopeful. I don’t blame her, he was pretty cute. (Still is.)

IMG_20140821_0002 That’s Dr. Advice second from the left with all that blond hair!

I, THE UNREADY


Ethelbert had nothing on me when it came to being unready, especially when it came to the wedding of our second daughter years ago. On a cold and rainy February 14th Valentine’s Day, I was lying near death in my bed entertaining the world’s worst case of the flu. I was feverish, with nose dripping, eyes burning, a hacking cough, and all two hundred plus bones in my body resisting movement, and I had convinced myself that people actually DID die of flu. I was prepared to join that sad number by mentally rehearsing my obituary for the event. In the midst of my sad wallow, my daughter came rushing into my darkened sickroom with the announcement that she and what’s-his-name wanted to get married, and that I was elected to both plan and execute this joyous occasion. She would gladly help when she could, but she was in the midst of finals, so not to expect too much hands-on assistance from her. Wasn’t it exciting? Oh yes, by the way, they wanted to execute this glad occasion on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17—less than one month hence.

After performing an abrupt right turn, the dark hairy hulk residing in my brain rose, shook himself free of End-of-Time thoughts, and realizing that I truly was nearly Out of Time. I needed to get up, get out, and get going.

I have to explain how thoughts of this long ago occasion entered my mind in the first place. While having lunch with good friends yesterday, the subject of multiple marriages came up, with the attendant description of the wedding dresses which accompanied them. When you take into account that the dress you choose will probably only be worn once, unless the bride chooses to recycle it for the next go-around, it is a most unchary purchase. Dr. Advice and I will be celebrating our 68th wedding anniversary soon, and I never found an occasion to wear the dress I borrowed from my father’s cousin again. The astonishing cost of some of these celebrity weddings would not only buy the young couple a home, but buy several of their children a first rate education at a prestigious university. Given the fact that half of the marriages are headed for the divorce court before the bills are paid, it’s a wonder that the Courts don’t ban the activity altogether.

Back to the Wedding-of-the-Century—I dragged myself from the cool comfortable confines of my bed and pasted together what I long considered to be the most charming country wedding I could conceive of. We were living in the country, and my daughter wanted to be married at home in our barn, which was a structure not built for the housing of animals, but was playroom, guest quarters, and studio space. While getting invitations, wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses underway, and the wedding cake baked, it occurred to me that some individual to validate the occasion was necessary, and not being a part of any religious association presented a problem in having them solemnize this event in the confines of our barn.

I contacted the Catholic Church, Episcopal, Methodist, etc. and no one was willing to come to us. This was long before the internet provided a way for any upright individual to legally pave the path to connubial happiness. Just as I was at wit’s end, a friend found a Mennonite minister without a church who would willingly perform the required task. I would have gladly converted just to salvage the occasion.

On the eventful day the weather went through its entire bag of tricks. First the sun shone brightly, then it rained, it hailed, it snowed, and a weak sun finally peered warily around a ragged cloud to see if it wanted to be part of the activity taking place on the ground below. At the appointed time, the group of family and friends were gathered in the warm and welcoming barn, and the lovely young bride took her father’s arm and slowly walked from her house to enter her new life.

It was a truly memorable scene, huge arrangements of daffodils filled the room, soft guitar music played, crickets chirped in hidden cages, the vows were taken under a canopy of silken ribbons, daisies and daffodils, the Mennonite minister spoke the required words, and I held our three month old first grandson while his mother, our oldest daughter and sister of the bride, performed her Matron of Honor duties. Immediately afterward, toasts were given, food was dispensed, the home-made carrot cake was demolished, promises were made to get together soonest, and the bouquet of daisies was tossed to the nearest 8 year old. It was all over! How could all that have taken only one month?

The guests departed, the bride and what’s-his-name left, she carrying a small caged cricket for good luck, but the luck ran out, the flowers wilted, the resident crickets went into hibernation, the sun shone brightly and the Mennonite minister remembered that he did not sign the marriage certificate!

Yes, it was a perfectly charming wedding. Oh, one more thing,—-the groom was a poor choice and did not work out.

A lifetime later, the bride planned what truly WAS the most charming wedding conceivable, and with a groom who truly was a wonderful choice for her.