Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Wedding Day (Part 1)

I had promised I would write more "tomorrow" and that was weeks ago, but the remembrances I wish to record have their own mind it seems and sometimes elude me altogether. I had to go off my meds pre-surgery and things started falling out of my brain (names, dates and memories). Still, despite my brain farts, now that the Oct. 21 surgery is done, recovery is well on schedule and I'm back on most of my supplements, let's try to recapture this beautiful day: the wedding day of my one and only child.

(Disclaimer: this is from my perspective and may be distinctly different from your memories, if you were there. We all see with different eyes, and our unique personal filters assign meaning, based on our experiences. As always, if I have any glaring error in my facts, names or places, please let me know and I'll correct it).

Waking up is odd, thinking about Andrew becoming a husband. How do I feel about that? I remind myself every day as a mother that this is my job: to prepare him to leave, lead and live well. I still don't know anything except fierce pride for the courage and talent and loyalty I see in this handsome young man. So many others have also built into his life and he seems to have absorbed the best qualities from us all. In an earlier part of the week, Rebecca and I were alone in the car going from here to there. "He always has such a positive attitude," she says, and my mother's heart exhales a contented sigh, my mind circles three times like a beloved old dog, tail softly curls around and settles into a cushion of peace.

I spend too much time relishing memories of life with a younger Andrew before I get up, which delays getting to the bride's home on time to meet her mom for our hair appointment. She's just leaving when we arrive, so after a brief greeting, she decides we should drive so we hop into her car for the short jaunt down the street to Hagen's Hair Studio. We approach the double front-drive garage with the overhead door open and a separate facade which opens into the garage-turned-hair-salon. Nifty. When the overhead door is closed, it still looks like a normal garage and when it's open, it looks like a storefront. (A perfect solution for an in-home salon without violating neighborhood architectural controls or encroaching on one's private living space). 

A confident blonde - older than I, with a slight Eastern European accent - is busy working on someone else when we enter. That finished, I let the mother of the bride go first, because I want to catch my breath and check Facebook, then I shoo her off to the bridal preparations back at home, assuring her I can walk back on my own. She is a baker and had made three types of cake for the wedding, one of which needs final touches far more than I need to be kept company.

My hair had been recently done, so this was just a shampoo and style. (My hair is always a little nervous with new hairdressers, seems to have a mind of its own. Am I alone in this?) The stylist discusses what she'd like to do and I say, "Go ahead," but when she starts back-combing the top, eeek! I get visions of sixties paisley miniskirts, spirals and psychedelic lights.

"Oh, no, hon," she asserts, "this is the only way your hair will keep its height and hold all day! Otherwise it will part and fall." Well, no one wants anything to separate or fall apart on your son's wedding day, so I acquiesce. (She was right. My hair holds it together all day long and combs out quite easily at the end of the day. And the cost of the visit is cheap like borscht. Two thumbs up.)

Feeling quite glamorous in my new 'do, I walk back to the bride's house in the already warm sunshine, slow enough so my freshly showered body doesn't begin perspiring. It's already near 25 degrees Celsius, so I walk slow.

Stepping into the main hallway, I see Rebecca by the front window smoothing her hanging wedding dress with a steamer. Henry is just beyond, trying to stay discreetly out of the way of the bridesmaids in lovely oriental dressing gowns getting makeup and hair done in the family room. He's already helped Bill with final preparations and is tucked away in a cosy corner of the living room, quietly reading.

Rebecca moves on to smooth wrinkles out of all four bridesmaid dresses, then offers to do my dress as well. I jump at the offer, since it's been in the dress bag in back of the vehicle for a week and I have no idea how to use a steamer. (I also have disconcerting flashbacks of my candlelighter melting a hole in her dress 30 minutes before my first wedding ceremony, so feel it best to leave this to the experts).  I admire her deft handling of the steamer and quietly marvel at the quality of character in this lovely young bride serving everyone else on her big day. Selah.

Rebecca also arranged an onsite hairdresser for the bridal party and two makeup artists from MAC Cosmetics for herself, the four bridesmaids, her mother and I. This is quite the pampering, and the artist that works on me is very attentive to my preferences, giving me a natural look with just a touch of glamour. I've never worn false eyelashes before but I guess they're all the rage, so I agree to try them. (They look nice and I love the idea, but there seems to be an adhesive malfunction so I promptly remove them after the ceremony and family photos. They sit on the bathroom counter looking for all the world like a one-sided black spider).

I look around at the girls, completely awestruck to be able to be part of their prep time. I've been a bridesmaid a few times, but as the mother of the groom, it is truly an honor and I'm so grateful to experience the giggles and jokes and excitement buzzing between us all. It is especially nice to hear the stories of how certain items came to be, such as the white lace gloves brought from Denmark by Aunt Kirsten which she found in a little traditional shop, with walls of gloves stocked neatly in individual glove-sized drawers.

Now it's time for Henry and I to join Andrew and his groomsmen at the home of Adam's mother. Adam was Andrew's dorm mate and since Rebecca was his best friend for six years, he'd brought her to meet his dorm buddies introduced the two of them. He's become one of Andrew's best friends and is serving as a groomsman.

Andrew presents the guys with personalized gifts: a bottle of house wine from Porter's with a personalized photo label of Andrew with each guy, along with the socks and tie they were to wear for the wedding and another personal memento.

(L to R): Skiing with Robert, posing with Tim,
playing music with Fraser, camping with Adam
Then it's my turn. He presents me with an Alex and Ani (+Energy) bangle bracelet with a "Mom" charm (representing Generosity, Heroism and Love). I'm smitten.

The description on the website says:
A mother's love and support is extraordinarily strong without limitation. The peony, the queen of the garden, symbolically encompasses the maternal traits of healing, love's blessing, and bravery. Embrace the heartfelt connection, strength, and respect associated with the Mom Charm as a token of admiration.
It's such a thoughtful, personal gift and since I know they are available in Calgary, I can add charms and bangles in the future to commemorate other events. Then Andrew gives Henry a special utility knife and Henry gives Andrew an engraved key chain. I give Brent's cuff links to Andrew. I know Andrew loves to dress up when occasion requires and so there will be many times he can use this personal remembrance of his dad.

Andrew then opens the special gift package Rebecca has given him, filled with some very thoughtful and fun items. Then the photographs ensue. You know guys when they have to pose. There is much posturing, nervous laughs, some awkwardness and a lot of bantering, insults and repartee. They all look so handsome.

Could a mother be more proud? I think not. But I do need a glass of water. The house isn't air conditioned and the glow you see on my face is more than just a mother's love.

We all walk out into what is now becoming stifling heat (I still much prefer this to rain!) and we pile into the vehicles aimed toward the wedding venue at Golden Eagle Golf Club in Pitt Meadows.

We drive across the beautiful Golden Ears Bridge. Then meander past raspberry and blueberry fields with their migrant workers harvesting, drive over the irrigation canal and down the tree shaded lane to the lovely venue.

And now, I will pause, and carry on with the rest at a later time. Thank you for reading this far. You must love me or my family to have stuck with it this long.

Isn't love grand?

For Part 2, click here

Photo credits: personal collection except for
bangle bracelet by Alex and Ani
and bridesmaid's dresses by Danielle McHugh

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