It has been fourteen years since we said, “I do.”
How do you graft two branches from different trees? How do you keep it safe, and warm, making sure both sides have enough water, sun and futile soil to grow into a might tree that bears much fruit? You can’t – not fully. It takes someone who specializes in horticulture.
We went to several counselors, and found one in particular who was in a step family. She was good but she did not have all the answers for us. No one did. Each stepfamily is unique.
We had a pretty good idea about how to handle this. We have all kinds of papers framed on our walls that say we are smart people – Doc and I, but there are some things that are just not found in books, and all the answers about creating the perfect step family is one of those things.
Sometimes, we try to do the right, but it just does not work out. Being my own wedding planner was not a good idea, that I could not fix.
For example, I thought that since we were having a small wedding, I could save the money and just do it all myself, hiring out just a few people to help…No a good idea!
Here is what happened. We arrived at the church several hours ahead of the wedding. I had both of the girls – his daughter and mine. The first thing I realize as I parked the car is a couple of old friends who I did not invite to the wedding were standing outside of the church. I would have invited them, had I known they would be there anyway, but I had not seen them in years, and this is a small wedding!
My daughter is trying to open the door to exit the car, when I grab her by the elbow, and hiss for her to get down quickly!
We both slid down in the seat of the car like two teenagers about to get caught. My soon to be step daughter was following suit and laying across the backseat, asking what was wrong, in a voice that let me know she was thinking that maybe CUJO, Steven King’s rabid dog was right outside of the car.
When I finally got brave enough to look up from our hiding place, I almost expected them to be staring back at us through the window.
“Its official”, I thought to myself, “I’m crazy.
I’ll need to add that to the list of things that Doc might not have figured out yet.
I’ll let Doc know about this new development – after he says, “I do”. Why bother him with details now?
Wouldn’t you know, just about the time we are ready to walk to the church, it begins to rain, causing my old friends to make a mad dash for their car.
Reaching into the back of the car, I discover that the umbrella is missing. So the girls and I in our rabbit fur-trimmed winter dresses, and heels, run like crazy for the doors of the church.
Do I really need to tell you how crazy my hair went after this?
We get into the church, I fix the girl’s hair, brush off the dirt we gathered taking a short cut through the grass to be in the church more quickly. Then, reaching into my bag for my make up, I realize that it is it not with me. Round trip to the house would take about an hour – I don’t have time for this.
The only time a bride should go with out make up is if she is going to be the bride of Frankenstein. Not only that but the rain has dried with my hairspray, and there are now clumps of hair all over my head! I’m not happy!
Thankfully my daughter has remembered her makeup and it is very close in color to my own. At this point I am so thankful for the makeup, that I am almost ready to let her take off the beautiful dress, that she hates and let her wear her jeans…almost, is the operative word here.
As soon as I have recovered from this catastrophe, a woman from the kitchen comes to my dressing room telling me that there is a problem in the kitchen. So, leaving the girls with strict instructions to sit like porcelain dolls and don’t move, I transverse the entire church. In my wedding dress. And my high heels. To arrive at the kitchen.
In the kitchen are three of my mother’s friends who have volunteered to run the kitchen for the reception as their gift to us! These were the best gifts I could think of receiving as wedding present. I love the idea of small family and close friends in the wedding.
As I opened the kitchen door all three of these precious women are standing, hands folded in front of them staring at a disposable aluminum pan. In this pan, is a chocolate cake covered in chocolate fudge icing. One of Doc’s friends, a wonderful cook, had volunteered to make the groom’s cake as his gift to us.
“A man dropped this off and said he could not stay. He told us that this was the groom’s cake.”
I took on their posture–and stared.
“I’ll tell you what,” begins one woman, “ I will put it on a platter, decorate it with strawberries, pineapple and other fruit I have on hand, and edge it with some leather leaf fern. How does that sound?”
“Thank you,” was all I could say.
Again, I am running down the halls of this old church, heels clicky-claking announcing my arrival to the photographer. He is a kind old man, with an amazing story about surviving Vietnam prison camp with honors. I am almost ready to ask for information about his survival skills.
I told him when he was hired, that I wanted a pictorial journal telling the story of the wedding. Bless his heart, it wasn’t until later that I realize that he was clueless about what that meant.
He lined all three girls against the fireplace and took our pictures. That was the picture that represented us getting dressed in my pictorial journal.
Trying to herd four children into the sanctuary so that they could have their pictures taken with their dad, I pass their dad in the hall. “Hi, babe!, I called as we flew past. ( He too was not in the right place for pictures if you will notice) He would later tell me how weird it felt to see his bride before the wedding. My only responds was “get over it, we have four children, and there was no way to hide from you so I could have an angelic appearance with four children (five if I count getting you to the right place) to herd to their proper place!
I had played Pachelbel’s Canon in C in the car frequently over the past couple of months talking about how to walked to the beat of the music. Hearing the music, they remembered their lessons.
Doc’s youngest begins the procession carrying a silk pillow, looking like a much younger version of his father – a mini-me as Doc would sometimes call him.
Followed by Doc’s oldest, who is not happy about wearing ballet slippers, (even at eight years of age she loved fashion and wanted high heels) but she is thrilled with a rabbit stole over her pale peach dress and wears it to church until she outgrows it.
My daughter, my maid of honor is next, wearing the same outfit as my stepdaughter. However she hates the dress but loves the heels. There is just no making everyone happy. It’s my wedding. You’re gonna wear it and like it, whether you like it or not!
Finally, my moment comes – I am walking the aisle to greet my groom. My oldest walks me down.
At first nerves take him over, and he is running down as if he can’t wait to get this over. Pulling back on his arm, I tell him to slow down so that everyone can see the bride!
You know, right now everyone wants to be me! He cuts me a look as if I have lost my mind. (Did I mention that I thought it was a good idea to be my own wedding director – yes, I have lost my mind, but at least I have pulled it together – after the rain did a number on my hair and while wearing my daughter’s makeup and dealing the with un-groom’s cake!)
Gently placing my hand on Doc’s my son kisses my forehead and takes his place beside Joseph. This is our family coming together to vow to be family. It was the way we wanted it.
The way it seemed best to help the children know that they are important, they count, and though grafted together, we are family. They are the fruit beneath our branches, and we as parents are the shade above their head.
Joseph and I step up to the altar.
It was after the wedding that I discovered most of the following details about what happened behind my back. First, the youngest, had some nose issues that day and an illusive bugger was tormenting him.
Picking his nose and having no tissue to use, he began, in front of everyone wiping his boogers on the coat pocket of his dad’s tuxedo. Someone must have seen this and laughed, because once he realized that there was an audience, he did it more, looking back at the crowd and laughing.
Next, someone expelled gas.
Doc’s oldest, begins tell her soon to be stepsister, that it was the youngest on the other end of the altar for the indiscretion.
I don’t’ know what happened to accelerate the issue, but the two of them began to argue. If I could have kicked at my daughter I would have. In my inability to reach either of them, the priest started talking louder, and leaned over to get their attention. They caught his drift and immediately stopped the argument.
Smiling, I looked over to my oldest, the only one (I thought) who was behaving, only to find him, head tilted back, lost in thought watching a spider build a web! He was aware of all the misbehaving going on, and decided to look away and watch the spider.
As we exited the church, I looked at my now husband and sighed with relief. Then turning to my daughter, I saw my precious half teen/half woman with the look of a little girl in her eyes. Tears streamed down her face and she wrapped her thin arms around my waist. “She whispered, I feel like I’m loosing you.”
“Never,” I replied, with tender kisses to her forehead, “Never.” You are my daughter, and I love you more than my own life. I know this is hard, but this is going to make our lives better. I will never have another daughter, you are special because you came from the center of my being. You know me better than anyone, and I know you better than anyone. No one can ever separate us. Even when you marry one day, we will be best friends, mother and daughter – forever.
Poor Joseph, was standing in to the side, loving on his two children who love the party atmosphere of the wedding, watching helplessly as I tried to comfort her. It would be later, when his children got a little older that they would have their time mourning and feeling like they had lost their parents.
Finally, we survived the wedding and proceeded to the reception, where my daughters close friends were serving the cakes, Doc’s niece served punch and his nephew served the Champagne.
The reception was all fun. Each child had friends to talk with, and the young children ran wild through the reception hall, as a jazz piano player serenaded us with joyful music.
Before long it was time for us to leave for the honeymoon. Placing the children with grandparents or close family friends, who would care for them while we were in Hawaii, was a little emotional for all of us. I knew we needed the time away, but at the same time, I wanted all of them to go with us. Little did I know how many mis-adventures we would have in the future.
This is how it all began. Just thought you would like to know!
Do you have a story of a crazy wedding day, or anniversary? I love comments, so let me hear your story!
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