Love Showed Up

My wedding was everything I wanted it to be and more.–Newly Married Isky

I’ve been thinking about my daughter’s wedding since we packed up the last box of lights and drove away from the outdoor pavilion the morning of July 31. How did it end up such a beautiful occasion when planned for a mere four months by two women almost continually at odds?

I should explain this. Isky is my second child, my first daughter. She came into the world with a puffball of bright red hair and a high-pitched wail. That kid was not one day in her childhood a pushover. She tried my patience at every turn. She wanted to know “why” and “how come” and “when” and “how” and “why not” from the time she could speak, and folks, she said, “I’m gignoring you” and “that’s ridicurus” when she wasn’t quite a year old.

She wasn’t an easy child, no, but I’ve always known that in the long run, she would be okay. I created a mantra of sorts when I told myself and anyone else who would listen, “She’s a pain in the ass now, but she is going to be one helluva’n adult.” Isky knew how to stand up for herself; no one was going to push her around. And God help them if they tried. At 5 ft tall–with a low center of gravity–she doesn’t push easy. Just ask her dad about the time he tried to push her into the lake.

Three years ago, in St. Louis, her dad and I watched her leave us at 3AM. She was moving to Georgia, with a backpack and a suitcase, following a man she’d known less than two months (they just got married), and while we both wondered if she was making the right decision, we admired her spunk. She strode off on those short little legs like she’d been flying to Georgia her entire life–and this was only her third time on a plane. We waved until she was out of sight, but she never waved back because she didn’t turn around, not once. She was full steam ahead into her new life.

Her sheer bullheadedness, insistence on a vision, and sharp tongue made our planning activities tense-ish. She knew what she wanted, and she expected to butt heads with me. I knew what I wanted too–and it was to not be planning a wedding in four months time. I will say it again although I have said it before, I am not designer-ish. I am not decoratey. I don’t see the point in pretty invitations or table runners or expensive flowers when you have hydrangea bushes bent over with blooms. And to be honest she didn’t want too much if you’re not the sort of woman who gets married in a hotel room in front of a murphy bed.

So Isky and I grumbled at each other while we planned. She felt disappointment many a time over because I didn’t pay attention to what she said–this is not a new complaint from any of my children as I tend to be a little dreamy and not-listeny. In my defense, if you give birth to four children and don’t learn how to tune them out, then you aren’t going to have any time to think about books or words or songs you want to remember, but my ability to tune people out could be called high art–subversive style. I, on the other hand, was disappointed she couldn’t see that even though I appeared dazed, confused, and slightly angry, I was, in fact, listening and planning.

How did this thing turn out so well?

Love showed up.

Love showed up in the hands of my four margarita-drinking, funny-as-fuck, talented and gracious cousins who called one day and offered their hands unasked. Hands that made table-tents and mason jar tags, hands that brought love and tiny lights and wire, picture frames, hand-painted signs, and big doors. and then hung these offerings in a wide-open outdoor pavilion that hours before had housed golf carts. My cousins’  hands turned that place into a shabby chic reception hall. And then those same hands stacked chairs and packed boxes when it was over.

Love showed up in the hands of my sisters from other mothers who drove from far-flung states. Those hands took pictures I couldn’t take myself, poured wine on my back porch before the wedding, and brought me ice-cold water to counter the flow of champagne. Those women were my Sister Sledgehammer and Attila the Nun. They were my motherofthebride’s maidens and they came with extra diapers for little Wonder and a pack of cigarettes for you know who. They watched for things I might not see and will remember all I might forget–like living journals those gals.

Love showed up in the strong, capable hands of my sister from my husband’s mother. She took my Isky under her warm and loving wing. And you better believe it, she has the best all-time wings. She did all the hard stuff Isky’s mother didn’t know how or just refused to do–like discussing table decorations and creating wonderful bridal party brunches. She texted pictures of flowers and listened, really listened to what Isky wanted. Loved showed up in her boundless basket of bride’s goodies–body tape and safety pins and needles, thread, and chalk–and in her cadre of beauty grandkids.

Love showed up in my sister’s hands too. Hands that held my own. Hands that carried flowers and hung lights and sheets of white to create a fake wall. Hands that took those same things down the next day. Hands that wrapped jars with twine and poured glasses (whole bottles) of wine. Hands that were and are so strong and present that I barely need hands of my own. In fact, I can say that there were times when I couldn’t tell where my hands ended and hers began. Her hands were and are my hands.

Love showed up in the hands of my parents, in those petunias that my mother carefully nurtured to their cascading brilliance on the wedding day. Love showed up in my parents’ carefully manicured lawn and the porch bedecked in tulle. Love always shows up in my dad’s hands, in the hankie he has at the ready and in his insistence that he buy your drink. Love showed up in his graceful and slow dance with my mom at the reception, in the way they love each other and have taught all of us how to love. The truth is that love shows up wherever they are, always.

Love showed up in the hands and the person of Fr. Bill who blessed the beginning of a life together for Isky and Chris, who took the kids’ promises and held them up before all of us, whose faith in love and goodness shone brighter than the late July sun.

Love showed up in the hands that prepared the food. In the hands that raised the groom. In the women and men who gathered round Isky and Chris. In the dancing and the music and in little Joy and Wonder who did 100 jigs at their parents’ wedding.

Love showed up.

Love showed up.

Love showed up because it was there all along. There for the taking just like those beautiful hands.

I didn’t have to ask for help one time, but it was given over and over and over. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to ask for a hand–but when I looked around during Isky’s wedding, I saw what all those hands can do.  If this is the lesson I am doomed to learn over and over, well, I guess I lucked the hell out.


Me and the Beautiful Bride Photo by Sara Finney Photography


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