NOTE: As I approach my 70th birthday, I’ve reposted a milestone post each day. But since tomorrow is The Day I went back and grabbed a bunch of photos – watching years fly by. Here they are – in no particular order.
NOTE: As I approach my 70th birthday, I’ll reprise a milestone post here each day until the end of May. Today – from November 17, 2007.
There we are – Jane and me on her porch one summer during college. Friends since Brownies, we’ve always had a warm, respectful and sturdy relationship, interrupted by years at a time but never diminished. Recently she sent photos of a family reunion – her four kids and their spouses and all their kids. And some things she had written. Beautiful things. Especially about her parents. I knew them well; I spent so many Saturday nights at their house, even going to church with them in the morning. They never ate breakfast before Communion but Jane’s mom always insisted that I eat something even though I was going with them After all, I wasn’t taking Communion so why not?.
A “nice Jewish girl” in a mill town suburb (here I’m on the right and Jane on the left,)I had no Jewish friends; Jane, Catholic, was my dearest. What might have been a huge cultural gap was just a curiosity; differences in our lives but not in how we felt about one another. We’d always sworn to be at one another’s weddings; I’ll never forget her beautiful one in the cathedral at Notre Dame. Years later, when it was my turn, Jane was living in Dallas and already a mother; she just couldn’t make it.
Then, just days before our wedding, she called. “Do you still have room on that boat of yours?” (We got married on a boat.) “I have to keep our promise- I’m coming!” It was so great and meant so much. Just as she knew it would.
That was 36 years ago; almost twice the age we were when the top photo was taken. But it doesn’t matter. The blessing of shared memories — of remembering each other’s parents and the Girl Scout trip to New York and her first love, who died in Vietnam — and mine, who ran off, perpetually stoned, to Santa Barbara — those memories make her part of so much of who I was and who I’ve become. What a gift to me that the one whose friendship blessed me was so blessed herself – generous and fine — helping me to be what she knew I had to be when I wasn’t sure myself what that was…not at all.
There we are, our sweet sweet family with it's newly married eldest and his lovely brand-new wife. It's an out-of-body experience to watch your son get married, and this was a wonderful one. I'd been very nervous: would it go well after the two of them had worked so hard on every detail, would they have fun, would we cry, would I look ok (well, after all, those photos last forever.)
It all did go well. The groom (in the middle) was so joyous and ready, his speech so sure and calm; his wife so lovely and pleased, his brother (on the right)offering the loveliest, funniest, just-rightest toast ever. There were only 80 of us so over the weekend we became a kind of tribe, tables shifting as people moved around enjoying the event, and one another.
It was a great joy to me to see how much the boys feel for each other. I have, today, two of my dearest wishes: that my children be good friends and that each son find a partner who is wonderful, honorable and loving. So far so good.
I'd been thinking for months about the power of time, of change. One of my friends commented on my Facebook page that "I remember when Josh was xeroxing his little hands in the office!" I do too. And I thought I'd be consumed by those kinds of thoughts. But this just felt right, timely and good for everyone. No nostalgia, not "where are you going my little one, little one" "sunrise, sunset" thoughts at all. Just gratitude at the happiness and love that surrounded the bride, the groom and the rest of us. May it always be so.
These two sweeties will be married on Sunday. One of them is my son. My first born. My baby. I don’t know why I’ve been so reluctant to write about it; it’s a beautiful relationship and a joyous moment in all of our lives. But I have been silent, or almost so, about it for some time. Can’t seem to let myself write. My sweet friend Karin Lippert, noting my cryptic tweet, wrote:
Congratulations… mixed emotions are the new normal, the new black? No, we have all always had overwhelming,wonderful emotions about our kids…
She’s right, I guess. The mix isn’t between wishing well and not so well, it’s between joy and respect for the place these two have found together in the world, and my profound sense of time passing, and of change. I’ll keep you posed when I can.
- Our son is getting married next Sunday in San Francisco.
- My husband has a (we hope recently repaired) detached retina and can't fly until we know the repair worked.
- If we had waited until we were sure the surgery was successful, it would have been too late to drive if we had had to.
- We are already fairly broke from tuition and the slow economy so why not spend even more money and take the train?
- (really 4b) it turns out that the train is very expensive.
- We don't have a choice so why fret about 4a?
- There were no seats on the train until Chicago.
- I drove 700 miles yesterday to get us from DC to Chicago to get on the train (retina detachment makes it hard to split the driving.)
- Our family doesn't know we took the train because the groom was worried about his dad's eye so our early arrival will be stealthy. (don''t tell)
- At least all this is distracting me from the sentimental squishiness that keeps sneaking up on me.
- You are now ready to return to the present where
Rick and I are in the Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station in Chicago waiting for the Southwest Chief. You can see the route above. Actually I'm more excited than annoyed – it is something we would have never done if we didn't need to. I can't picture the accommodations – I'm betting on a cross between all those black and white thrillers where people were always chasing each other up and down the aisles and flirting in the bed-sitting rooms and who knows what. We'll see. Meanwhile we're in the lounge with about a billion people on an "America by Train" group, with some smoker's coughs, name tags for all, and a pretty friendly environment. I'm too tired to be friendly though. Unusual for me.