One enormous aid, which captivated my mind, was the fact that while waiting, we attended J.J. and Véronique’s wedding in York, England. Our money being depleted by this time, we took out a loan to be able to go. J.J. married into a beautiful family, loving mother, involved father, happily married with two doting daughters, moneyed background, and private schooling. Feeling lower than a snake’s belly anyway, the event became a comedy at just how low I could go.
Knowing this wedding would be the epitome of British propriety, we despaired of appearing as poor American relations. Being poor, a new circumstance for us, sat uncomfortably on our squared shoulders. A friend of Noelle’s, who had just opened her own seamstress business, offered to make each of us, granddaughters included, a new wardrobe to take to England. We accepted with glee, rushed about finding material and patterns, and took them to Karen, certain we would be the hit of the parade.
Multiple fittings took place, re-cutting, re-stitching, but it was more than she could handle. She roped her mother into working with her night and day. We picked up our garments the night before we left, and we showed up in England with clothes we hadn’t tried on or pressed. None of them fit! It became a laughing matter because what else could we do?
She had also made me a hat as J.J. mentioned off the cuff that women wore hats to British weddings. He neglected to say “serious” hats. My little topper would have sufficed for the beach, so I had to “hire” a hat. That boat of a hat rented for $40 for the outing. I thought it might be better to buy, but when I asked, I found that price was triple the hire!
Véronique, having been raised Catholic, required a Catholic wedding and selected a pristine, aged chapel with gilt topped pillars, painted gloss white except for the gilding. Véronique’s mother looked stunning in a black and white suit with a veiled foxhunt hat. I sailed down the aisle on the arm of an usher, dressed in my lopsided pink flowered outfit, following her. I smiled at the few family members who had flown from the States to attend. I knew people were not ogling my hat but were noticing the lining that hung lower than my skirt and my jacket bunching up in the front. It made me want to laugh.
During the service, we celebrated communion. When I returned to my seat, Dan came right behind and handed me one of my shoulder pads that had fallen at the feet of the priest. He and the priest had looked disdainfully at it before Dan scooped it off the marbled floor. With that I did laugh.
J.J. had asked Noelle to be his “Best Man” since she had always been his best friend, which meant she must wear “tails” or a Morning Coat as they called it. The one her friend made turned out to be a disaster, so she borrowed one from Véronique who had inherited it from her grandfather. In England, it seems every man owns a Morning Coat just like every woman owns a boat and calls it a hat. Noelle made the elegant coat look glamorous. It seemed to be made for her.
However, Noelle put the wedding ring in what she thought was a tiny, interior pocket, but when the priest asked for the ring, she had to dig deep to retrieve it, her elbows askew. It looked from the back like she was digging around in her bra. The priest asked her later, “Where was that ring?” We were simply the gauche Americans among the proper Brits.
My granddaughters stole the show. They were “bridesmaids,” or flower girls, dressed in off-white dresses for which Véronique’s mother had dyed the material in tea. Scarlet cummerbunds wrapped around their waists and off-white stockings disappeared in gold ballet slippers. They were as good as gold during the service, except for Madelyn repeating every word Noelle said when she read a passage of Scripture, which added that dewy-eyed dimension that this was not just pomp and circumstance, but tender family as well. Valerie captured everyone’s heart with her dancing which she did non-stop in front of the band. Bridget talked to everyone, disarming the stoic British.
J.J. avoided most of the reception, hiding on a floor that discreetly overlooked the dance floor. If anyone looked up they could see him peering down on all of us. The party must have thought us a weird family. However, J.J. and Véronique had a superb time; they are beautifully matched and very much in love. Glory be to God, He answered my prayers for my son!
I sat on the side and dreamed of what that reception could have been were we a normal family. My husband would have danced with me, we would have had tears in our eyes together to see our son so well married, and Dan would have traded me off on the dance floor to take a turn with Véronique, and me to laugh and spin with my son. But instead I sat. My son never danced with me, either. I think he was relieved to be marrying into a normal family. He lets it slip once in a while that we are an embarrassment to him. I don’t blame him.
Writing has been in my blood, so to speak, but when I surren-dered my life to Jesus Christ and He told me to write, all my trepidations rolled away and I began in earnest! After all, if God Almighty says it was His idea that I be a writer, who am I to stand in His way? My hope is that you not only like what I write, but that your life is moved by it, and that your party to Jesus and with Jesus turns your life into days of Heaven on Earth.