Friday, September 18, 2015

I want to remember these moments

Rebecca asked if I could be in Langley by Monday before their Friday wedding. Less than a year before, she had stood by Andrew’s side at my wedding. Strange and wonderful, knowing we were all going to be family. Beside her stood her parents, my son’s soon to be in-laws, who really have been filling the gaps left by the distance between Calgary and Langley since Andrew first met them five years ago.

I love Bill and Karin. I love them for how they’ve loved on Andrew from the very beginning but I also really like them as individuals and as a couple. How they helped me out before we’d even met, getting Andrew’s vehicle from Salmon Arm back to Langley in August of 2011 (long story). Further, I respect them as business people and craftspeople and artists. Karin is a baker, working both for the restaurant they own and another early morning job elsewhere. Bill has been a restaurateur for many years, having spent a large part of his career setting up the restaurants in new Ikea stores. They now own Porter’s Bistro, a coffee and tea house, café, housed in a historic turn of the century building at Five Corners in historic Murrayville (on the east side of Langley). Bill is also an accomplished jazz musician, playing drums in a professional jazz trio and hosting live music every Friday and Saturday night at Porter’s.

Their hospitality comforts me and their faithful work ethic inspires me. This became even more evident in the months and days leading up to the wedding, on the day itself and the days afterward. Yes, it was their daughter’s wedding, and the bulk of the planning and coordinating had to be left to them because I was too far away to be of any practical help, other than holding a wedding shower in Calgary and helping with errands the week of the wedding - which I will get to in a future blog post - but first, the prep and pre-events.

In addition to the immediate family, including Julia, Rebecca’s sister, their aunt Ricky had volunteered to help coordinate many items related to the wedding and another extended family member on Bill’s side, Aunt Beverly, offered her assistance as a floral designer. Side note here: Beverly was using succulents as the primary “flower” in the décor and bouquets. Many of these were grown in her own garden and the gardens of other family members and four of them spent several days the week of the wedding gathering these from various gardens and putting together the floral décor. A labour of love, a beautiful result!

When I attended the family wedding shower for Rebecca and Andrew a few weeks prior, I got my first glimpse “behind the curtain” of the legacy of family and faith that have brought me to understand, even more, how and why Bill (from his Dutch ancestry) and Karin (from Danish parents) have become the amazing people they are. The entire experience has developed into a panorama of experiences that bolsters my belief in the legacy and constancy of loving family who set aside their personal preferences to come together to help and contribute to landmark events.

It started with an invitation in the mail, a hand made card. The shower was held in the home of Ricky, one of Bill’s sisters. The floral designer pinned a corsage on the bride to be, and we had a buffet of sweets, fruit, veggies and sandwiches to enjoy. One by one we shared one word we felt described Rebecca, each of these a blessing, a mirror back to her of what her life has meant to ours: as our lives have gathered these blessings like wildflowers, walking along life’s path with her. Aunt Elsje, Bill’s other sister, will incorporate these words into a wall hanging to remind Rebecca of the love shared around this intimate circle.

Gifts were precious. The ones that struck me were the more sentimental keepsakes: an elaborate and beautiful scrapbook from Elsje, filled with traditional family recipes. The first version of this gift had been destroyed in a tragic fire only a few weeks before. Her aunt was able to save the computer that held many of the photos and documents used in the making of the book and she worked long hours to recreate this heirloom gift in time for the shower. The same fire destroyed the work done on centerpieces for the wedding reception and these, too, were recreated in time for the wedding.

Another gift was a box of family heirlooms both old and new. It included hand-embroidered and edged linen napkins made by an ancestor, hand-tatted doilies, sachets, candles, heirloom candle holder and a “bouquet” of collector spoons from every country Rebecca and Andrew have each visited so far in their lives, collected and donated by family and friends from across the world. The gift box included many more items of poignant significance in Rebecca’s family history. A treasure box, indeed.

A special surprise came from Karin’s mother, Else Jensen, Rebecca’s grandmother. She crocheted a beautiful white wrap/shawl for Rebecca to wear on her wedding day if it got too cool. None of the family knew she was doing this and the needlework was so intricate and beautiful, the yarn so delicate and soft, it was an immediate heirloom – a treasure to keep for the ages.

As I recount these moments I want to remember, there are many more details, many more gifts, many more significant people, some details and names of which I may not have gotten straight or remembered accurately. If I have made any errors, let me know so I can correct them.

In recording these moments, I echo again what I did in an earlier post surrounding the events of the wedding: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, this far by God’s help I’ve come.”

So grateful,

…to be continued

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