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Posts Tagged ‘positive attitude’

Well, that was quite the week.

I took last Thursday off for my wife’s birthday. I didn’t get her a present—I long ago stopped trying to surprise her with a gift and now merely provide her with whatever she desires—but if I had, it certainly wouldn’t have been what she got, courtesy of SCOTUS. Thanks to them, everyone’s packing heat, women are chattel of the state, prayer is back in schools, voting rights have been further eroded, native sovereignty is diminished, and the government is hamstrung in its battle against climate change.

This all got plopped down on top of plates already over-filled by the war in Ukraine (served with a side dish of “Why so serious?” courtesy of Russia), the onion-peeling revelations from the January 6 Select Committee, and the smoldering root fire of pandemic, inflation, and civil unrest.

Good times, eh?

I think we can all be forgiven if we find ourselves a tad out of sorts, short on patience, or (in my case) fighting a persistent long-term, low-level depression. To combat the latter, I generally try to “accentuate the positive” by focusing on the good bits. It isn’t easy, but thankfully, in the midst of last week’s maelstrom of sewage, I did find an island of serenity.

Last Saturday, I married two young people. This was my second opportunity to officiate a marriage, and even though I don’t enjoy public speaking (an understatement), being asked to perform a wedding is an honor I’m not sure I could ever turn down.

The bride is the daughter of my adoptive family, and the ceremony was at the groom’s family home, a lovely Craftsman-style house nestled in a dell, deep in a birch forest. We arrived Friday for the rehearsal, and were met with the expected combination of almost-too-late preparations, near-to-breaking nerves, and brink-of-tears composure. My job on Friday was easy: radiate calm and stay out of the way.

Saturday . . . different story.

To complete the picture, I should mention that this was the weekend the Puget Sound region decided to turn the heat up to eleven. We went from a Thursday high in the mid-60s (20°C) to a Saturday with temps in the low- to mid-90s (35°C). And we were outside. And my spot was in the sun. And I was wearing black. Including my blazer.

At a wedding, it’s easy to interpret a profusely sweating minister as an ill omen, but I was able to maintain a cool appearance via sheer will. It wasn’t until the exchange of rings that I felt the first trickle of sweat on my sunward temple, and I didn’t have to mop my brow until the recessional was complete. Whew!

The thing I love about weddings—and I’ve been in more than my fair share—is that everyone wants them to go off well. Participants, family, friends, guests, even the caterers and photographers and musicians, everyone wants it to be beautiful and happy and glitch-free. But while beautiful and happy are do-able, I’ve never known one to be glitch-free. At mine, the judge arrived on crutches; she’d torn a ligament sliding into second base, and since we our wedding was in a forest, she had the devil’s own time negotiating the terrain (at one point the entire wedding party had to take one step backward so she could get her foot out of a hole). At another, the bride forgot the rings at home and had also locked her keys inside; we had to break in through a window. Weather is always a crap-shoot for outdoor venues. Hangovers often throw sabots into the machinery. And let’s not forget the gremlins of technology; unintentionally hot mics, recalcitrant PA systems, looping cables and wires stretched across traffic paths, they’re all just glitches waiting to happen.

But even with these myriad disasters waiting in ambush, I’ve never known a wedding to go completely off the rails. The glitches happen, to be sure, but they get handled, and they become part of the story, the one thing that makes this wedding unique, the thing we all laugh about afterward.

Weddings are built, from bottom to top, of hope.

And for me, that was definitely a bright spot in a week otherwise filled with drear and dread.

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Gossamer WheelI have been absent from this blog for a handful of days—something I try not to do. But in the course of human events, some things take precedence over others.

During my absence from these pages, I traveled to my hometown to see my mother, who is dying of brain cancer. Three months ago she was up and about, concerned about a pain in her back, but a woman to be reckoned with. Two months ago, after a diagnosis of cancer in her lung, she began chemotherapy. One month ago, ravaged by the treatment, she learned that it was worse than expected, and the cancer was in her brain as well. Two weeks ago, cancer was found in her spine, also: the cause of her original pain. One week ago, the cancer took her down to the mat, and the family decided to gather.

My family is a complicated organism. All intelligent, many artistic, every one of us as twitchy as the next, each in our unique way. Our mother is a powerful force with a gift for organization and a penchant for perfection. We have been well-trained.

We gathered, and pulled it off with near-military efficiency. Plans were proposed, decisions were made, information was disseminated. Food appeared when it was needed, without preamble or fuss. Schedules were synched. We were a hive of activity beneath a surface of quiet, supportive calm. We gathered, we wept, we laughed, we touched hearts and held hands. Those of us who, like me, live far away, did our best to say goodbye without actually doing so. We rarely say exactly what we mean in my family, or say it to the person who needs to hear it most. In matters of the heart, we are often indirect, and so we remain.

We created moments, for her, and for ourselves. We relished every smile we brought to her face, every tear we shed, and every comfort we could provide one another. I was, at the end of the weekend, immensely proud of my family.

In a few days or a few weeks, we will gather again. Afterward, we will be very different; we will not have that dynamo at our center, keeping our orbits in check. We must find a way to make the transition. We must learn a new way to remain together, else we will fly apart, separate worlds each on our own path through life.

But if this past weekend is any barometer, we will find fair weather again.

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