Four grown kids, five delightful grandchildren, constant, long-time partner. A retired academic, I'm adapting to life in a Vancouver condo after decades in a waterfront home on a very small (Canadian) West Coast island. Keen to discover what new priorities emerge, what interests persist, in this urban life after 60!
Roses and Weddings and a Mother's Rambling Thoughts
Bride-to-be picked up the succulents for her floral/table arrangements yesterday and she and her future mom-in-law and a girlfriend, I think, put them together in the vases her guy had scrounged up. I wish I'd been there, but we do have to spend some time at home on the island so the garden doesn't go completely wild. I'm so looking forward to seeing what the budding florist has come up with -- she's had a clear vision of what she wanted to achieve on the small wedding budget we've carved out. Already, all who received one have been very impressed by the homemade invitations the couple put together (well, Meg conceived, Rob seems to have chosen and purchased various-weight papers, stamped and gilded, ordered printing, picked up printed, cut and glued and addressed and mailed . . . ).
We had originally hoped, quite honestly, to host another beachside wedding -- Eldest daughter's was a huge success here seven, almost eight years ago. But Meg and Rob had other plans, the very traditional private club he works at (as did she for a year or so) offered to put on the wedding for them at a very generous rate (and we kept it small enough that they were even more generous than anyone could have hoped).
I've left most of the planning to Meg and Rob, although we've been available for consultation and cheque-booking along the way. Apparently, says the manager at The Club, bride and groom often show up only at the first meeting with him and the following three, four, or five meetings are with the parents only. By that measure, we're worse than lax, but, quite honestly, I find much about weddings and the "handing-on" of daughters disturbing. Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled that Megan and Rob are committing to a life together in front of friends and family, but I don't want to own that celebration.
Someone asked me the other day if I were "thrilled" that my daughter was getting married. I admit I paused for a second, and then smiled and said I was very happy. My interlocutor, to his credit, got the distinction immediately. I don't know if I can explain it clearly enough so that you will understand as well, but I was already thrilled with Megan and the life she's creating each and every day. With each of my adult children, in fact, those who will marry and those who may not. I worry sometimes about our perpetuation of some dangerous fantasies, the worth we ascribe to white satin dresses and cunningly-decorated cakes.
I began this post with the photographs but realized I wanted to say something about the approaching wedding and the distance I've maintained from it, on this blog, so far. As I finished the last paragraph, I began wondering how I could tie photographs and my wedding thoughts together. I even considered an over-laboured metaphor by which the (wild) Nootka roses shining in the sun against a beautiful seascape paralleled Megan and Rob shining in their wedding gear on Sunday. That metaphor got horribly awkward when the bee got into the rose, even more so with the dead petals in a pile of organic detritus.
But I can say that this natural beauty, in its many stages, came free of expense or labour, other than vigilant pruning. The Nootka roses grow wild -- and they thrill me. They come back year after year after year, going through the cycles of blooming and dying back, blooming and dying back. Perhaps I'd do better to compare them to marriage rather than to the wedding. Perhaps simply to life itself, whose cycles we all work our way through. Still, the roses in full bloom, in full glorious promise on a summer's day -- that's a wedding, that insistent celebration, wrapped in all the beauty one can create and afford. It's not an ignorance of its own ephemeral nature, of the difficult times to come, it's a brave and beautiful and optimistic act of grace -- in its fullest spiritual sense -- a creation and storing-up of resources all at once.
And I suppose I should find that thrilling, shouldn't I?