Friday, October 15, 2010

Old Love, New Love

Reading the title, you might think I was talking about a first love, an old flame. I am in a way. Today was my husband and my 15th wedding anniversary. We've been through a lot together. Not as much as some, not as easy as others.
Okay, so I was going to start off this post as another of my mushy, love laden posts, because, you know, I am just corny like that. But then I saw a post on a picture from my reception from my niece that made me remember something from that day, and I decided I'd rather get it all down, what memories I have left of it, because I never have and you know, I like to have a record of these things.
If you know me at all, you know that throwing parties, any kind of event where I am in charge and want people to have fun, I sort of wig out a little. Just a little. Anything that goes wrong sends me into a frenzy of panic. It's not pretty. I pretty much lose it, and ya know - that's just a good time for everyone, right?

So, to start off my wedding day, it was raining. That wasn't too horrible, as my grandmother pointed out to me that rain on your wedding day was good luck (she's Welsh). My sisters and I had an appointment to go and get our hair done. As I was getting some long, loose curls put into my hair, I look over and see that my sister, Dana, who had beautiful, long, blond hair at the time, was sitting in a chair. She had a bun in her hair. On TOP on her head. On top of the bun on the top of her head was ANOTHER BUN! I was under the impression she was just going to get a partial up-do, and let most of that beautiful, curly blond hair hang down. What she had was a bee's nest, people. A BEE's NEST, like from 1960. For my wedding. Then, I look to the other chair, where my other very beautiful sister with long blond hair sat, her hair all twisted up in the BIGGEST. FATTEST. French twist ever. It was less horrible than Boo's hair, but still horrible enough to leave me dismayed. My cool head went a little south, but I was okay. I hated the hair, but I couldn't do much at that point.

Exhibit A - The Ugly Hair
After hair we went to the church to get dressed. We were shown into a little preschool area with a little bathroom. We had the little girls ( Meg and Liz) get dressed, and they sat down so we could curl their hair. As I am curling away, my sisters make some startling realizations. 1. They had forgotten the pins I had given them to wear with their dresses - (it was all about a look, in my head), and my sister, Stacy had forgotten PANTY HOSE! Or she bought kids hose, or something. In any case she didn't have any. My sanity level shifted a little lower. 

Then the lady who did our flowers showed up with them. This lady was my soon to be husband's ex-sister-in-law. Needless to say, I was never crazy about having her do our flowers, but he really seemed to want her to, and she was cheap, and at that point I was all about wanting to be nice, and pretend I was okay with the whole ex's, divorce, blended family thing. So, the flowers. They were not great. They didn't even seem all that special to me. I had made my headpiece, and I LOVED it. I wished I had just done all of them, I am sure I would have been a lot happier. I asked for flowers that matched my bridesmaids dresses. Mostly lilies and other more exotic flowers, and I got carnations and roses. Uck. My sanity level sunk a little more. I was starting to panic. Plus the ex-sister-in-law was still there, curling Elizabeth's hair and commenting that she and Doug's ex-wife didn't know why she hadn't been invited so that she could watch Elizabeth be a flower girl. The idea of her being there made my nerves do a little not happy dance, and my stomach started to churn.

Soon, it was time for the ceremony to start, and the best man had yet to arrive. He was flying in and his plane had been delayed and he was going to be an HOUR LATE! I wanted to just have someone else stand in, but my Douglas wanted to wait for him. This conversation was carried out by other people running back and forth, giving us messages, because, you know, the groom was not to see the bride before the wedding! My level of comfort was at an all time low, when I hear the singer we hired start to sing the last song she was supposed to sing before the wedding started. No one gave her the memo on the best man. So, the poor girl sang. She sang and sang and sang. THE SAME SONG. No one thought to run up there and tell her to take 5. I could hear her singing all the way in the basement. I started to see stars. It was bad. So bad. If you look at my wedding photos, I do NOT look happy. It's because I was ready to KILL! I was 10 seconds shy of going psycho on everyone in sight when someone came down and said they were ready. Man, I had the hardest time conjuring up a smile.

I remember my dad walking me down the isle. He didn't look any happier than I did. I was worried that he didn't want me to marry Doug. I would later find out that he would NEVER be happy when giving one of his girls away. It was the end of an era, each time, and it was bittersweet.

I'd love to say that all my angst washed away as I walked down the isle, but my nerves were shot. I just wanted to get it over with by then. The girls were supposed to sit down with their grandmothers after they walked down the isle, but they pretty much bounced back and forth the whole time. When we went to light the unity candle, we hadn't planned what we were going to do while the soloist sang the song we had chosen for the moment. Silly, really. We had like, a 20 second thing to do, but we made her sing a 3 minute song. So, we stood up there, with nothing to do, for like 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Like a couple of dopes. We kept kissing, every few seconds, because we were standing there in front of all those people, all watching us. I couldn't just stand there. IT. WAS. AWKWARD! and people mentioned it all night long. I am pretty sure that's what they remember most. Uck.

In the end, it wasn't about the things that went wrong, like the fact that the best man wore a suit bought at Goodwill 20 minutes before the ceremony for $4 (so glad I did not know that at the time!), or my sisters' ugly hair, or that one of the groomsmen wore a tuxedo shirt, or even that my husband's ex-wife's sister made ugly flowers for my wedding, it was about the fact that we had found each other. It was that truly, God had found us for each other. See, I finally got to the mushy part.

The next few years were long in some ways, blending a family is about the hardest thing. I never knew how hard. It took a good five years to feel "blended", and even then issues would arise from time to time. In the mean time we lived. We loved. We had a bunch of babies. We were broke. We made some good decisions and some bad ones. We moved. We had more babies. We had more money, but somehow, always still broke! But, I wouldn't have wanted to do this with anyone else. He is the other half of my heart, and lots of times, he is more than half my heart, because I am just to tired to do my share, so he does it for both of us. I hope I have done that for him, too. We've learned each others moods and habits, and we put up with each other in spite of them. We are blessed with really good chemistry (thus all the babies!), and for some reason, Doug always smells REALLY, REALLY good. I think that is just God's way of reminding me why I like him so much, during the times when I need some reminding. I think we know that we aren't always going to be head over heels, but we will always come back around to feeling that way again. And when it does, look out!

To my Douglas, who never reads my blog, but still. I love you. I have since the second time we met! Thanks for being everything; my very best friend (he knows ALL my secrets, everything, for reals), my partner in crime and baby making, the dad to all the beautiful tornadoes, my retirement plan, and my heart. Thanks for putting up with me, and my sloppiness, and my blog, and my love of the internet, and shopping, and all the other stuff I do that makes you nuts. Thank you for giving my children dimples. I love you the most in the world. Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Strange Kind of Sense

My grandmother had been back in the hospital due to another fall. The first night she was in so much pain, it was hard to be with her. I started to wonder why God was letting her flounder like that. Why leave her in torment? She was much better the next day, happy, talking. I sat with her for a while late that night, in the quiet of her hospital room, and I found myself rather entranced by all her ramblings. If I hadn't been listening so closely, she would not have made a whole lot of sense. But, she was so intent on telling me all the things running through her mind, I could not help but listen. I think I learned a few things about her that surprised me.

If you have ever had someone you love go through Alzheimer's or something similar, you know how hard it is to watch the person you love just melt away. I couldn't stand it. I  was having a hard time understanding what the purpose could be behind this suffering. I should never have questioned. When will I learn that God is truly awesome?

As I sat with my Nain that night, she was full of light. Her face was animated and so, so happy. She held my hand and looked into my eyes. I just let her talk. She told me so many things, some fragments of memories, some stories, and some bits and pieces that I could not make any sense of. She told me about falling in love with my grandfather. She said she loved him the moment she laid eyes on him. Nain talked about her baby girl, and her two little boys. My grandmother has always been a little hard, a little unreachable, so this little lady, with the bright eyes, just pouring love out at me...I was mesmerized. She truly had me hanging on her every word. She told me how we need to love, always. That the only thing that mattered was that we love. And to pray. She told me to always be on my knees in prayer, that it was so important, and the only thing we could ever do that mattered. She told me that we have a wonderful family and that she was glad that we all loved each other so much.

Nain talked about her mother and dad, and how much she loved her brothers. She told me that whenever she was in trouble her boys, as she called them, would swoop down and carry her away. She told me about her best friend, Jean. She and Jean had grown up with one another. They had been neighbors from the time they were 1 year old. Nain talked about Jean a lot. She said she was a true love. They stayed friends all of their lives. She told me she missed her terribly when they were apart, married and raising children.

I stayed a long time that night. She was just too fascinating to leave. She told me all about how there is a job that must be done, and that we must be the ones who do it, because no one else will. She did go on to say that the job was about creating a new "healthy gum" because "so many kids these days chew gum" and if she didn't create the healthy gum with lots of vitamins and nutrients, then no one else would. I got the feeling that perhaps this was something she thought about a lot when her kids were small. She had it all planned out and presented it as a proposal, almost. She made me laugh, and I had to agree that gum was indeed a big problem and someone needed to do something.

 I think these moments with my grandmother are so precious. I think it makes a strange kind of sense. Her ramblings have me falling in love with a grandmother I never knew. I am learning bits and pieces of her life, and seeing why, maybe, she was a bit on the hard side. She'd lived an incredibly hard life. She's had many great sorrows, which I knew, but all along she'd had a quiet joy that I did not suspect. I like getting to see pieces of that now. Her devotion to prayer surprised me a little, but not my mom. Mom told me that all her life, Nain was down on her knees. I'm glad to know that. God has a funny little plan here, don't you think? This little woman, who has been through so much, but has been hard to reach, maybe a wee bit hard to love, is suddenly a joy. She is sweet where she used to be a bit mean. She tells me she loves me often, when growing up, I was never too sure she liked me at all. Her smiles, her strange little stories, her falling, hospitalizations, all of these things, I think have been part of a plan all along. Because I pray for her so much now. I prayed for her always, of course. In a perfunctory sort of way, except in times of trial. But I pray for her now like I never have. I love her, I want her days left on earth to be peaceful and happy, and I want for her to go to the Lord when it is time, so I pray, and I love. I think it is all starting to make a perfect kind of sense.