The Wedding last Saturday was…well frankly, it was perfect.
After a stormy Friday, Saturday was sunny and cool. All my daughter’s detailed planning and iron-willed determination to have everything the way she envisioned resulted in a pitch perfect experience—simple but elegant, from the burlap covered hay-bales that guests sat on for the ceremony to the candles that guests lit and floated on the pond. And the emotional intensity was overwhelming, from the way Ralph and our daughter Hilary strode (and I mean strode) down the aisle grinning to the way my daughter included and embraced her ten year-old step-daughter as an integral part of the wedding ceremony, to the tears in the groom’s eyes. Actually there wasn’t a dry eye in the pecan grove. I could go on describing the details forever (like the way Jason rowed Hilary across our pond to the reception).
As for Ralph, he was totally in his element.
For the previous week he had been a wreck, repeating his certainty that the wedding would be a disaster about once an hour and generally unable to keep anything in his head. My impatience combined with my own anxiety didn’t help matters.
Then Thursday night our sons both arrived. The guys live on opposite sides of the country and last saw each other in an airport for fifteen minutes several years ago. Ralph, who is asleep every night by 8:30, sat up with them until three in the morning. I wasn’t about to take that family time away from him, but I was a nervous wreck assuming the beer consumed coupled with exhaustion coupled with tension would leave Ralph unable to function during the important two days to come.
And Friday morning he was still incredibly anxious about the wedding; the intermittent thunderstorms all day didn’t help. But Ralph was also remarkably sharp—what did help was the arrival to the farm of the bridesmaids who paid Ralph lots of attention. (“Why do young girls flirt with me so much,” has become a new refrain, half-boastful, half genuinely curious.)
During the rehearsal, when the minister explained to Ralph that he had a line to say during the ceremony the next day, Ralph was obviously concerned that he might mess up. I was concerned too until I realized that the minister, a good friend who knows Ralph’s situation, would take care of him.
Ralph, whose sense of time gets wobbly, especially when we’re going somewhere he doesn’t want to go, complained how interminable the 30-minute drive to the rehearsal dinner seemed. I was worried. He was clearly dreading the dinner where he would have to interact with more people than he’s used to in a setting that was unfamiliar. I was selfishly dreading embarrassing interactions, afraid he would have a panic attack as he has in the past or even refuse to participate.
But when we walked through the door Ralph transformed. He didn’t have to recognize anyone because everyone knew him. He began to hold court. When the speeches began, he became so inspired that he stood up to give his own toast extemporaneously, regaling us with a story about Hilary and a friend’s escapades. No one who didn’t already know would have had a clue that Ralph has issues with memory. After we got home from the dinner, he stayed up late again with the crowd staying at the farm. Again I worried that he would not be able to function the next day.
And again I was wrong.
Saturday afternoon, when he walked our girl down the aisle, he was completely assured. When the minister asked who gave Hilary away in marriage, Ralph boomed out, “Her mother and I do.” The ceremony went without a hitch. And the reception, full of good food and dancing to a great band, was a huge success crowned by my new granddaughter’s toast, a speech she wrote all by herself that brought down the house.
Ralph had a ball.
He can’t remember any details now. He has no memory of the ceremony having happened. He doesn’t recall the dinner outside under the trees or with whom he danced (and he danced a lot). He does remember the girls paying him attention. And he wishes our sons had hung around longer. We both wonder how he’ll fill his time…but that’s another post.
Mostly he’s let down that it’s over. After months of doom and gloom that the wedding would be disaster, now he’s upset we don’t have an excuse for another party.
Because as he tells me every ten minutes, “You know, I think that went really well.”