Earlier this month,Tiffany gave birth to our little Jack. “Our”? you might ask. Yes, as proven by the annunciation dream I had at exactly the moment of his birth, I am his fairy godmother. Well, maybe not fairy. Lecturer? Simpsonologist godmother?
A few weeks before his birth, book group and the book group hangers-on gathered at my house to decorate onesies for the baby. (Mindy later airbrushed two more.) Here are the results:
Earlier this year, my cousin told me that I would be going down to Florida this Christmas. She told me several times, in fact. It was important because my grandparents are in ill health. With few exceptions, we all headed down. Descending on a house made for two is never a good idea for a septic tank, but my grandparents were still happy to have every available surface covered in children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
On Christmas Eve, my cousin Kelly and her family decided we would do our first ever bonfire. This Christmas in Northern Florida was mild enough for it, and we live way out in the woods. How far out? We live in an unincorporated area without any official buildings (post office etc) right next to the Pine Log State Forest. That’s why home is called Pine Log.
Once we got the fire up, we got out the smore materials (I’d never had a smore!) and got the grandparents (although I was worried about grandma’s oxygen unit being at all near flame).
My brother, Granddaddy, and GrandmaMost of the Gang
Although the bonfire was very much enjoyed, it was only a precursor for what was to happen the next day.
In my family, the adults draw names. My cousin Tessa had gotten Grandma’s name. She decided to give Grandma something unique–a wedding.
You see, my grandparents had their sixtieth wedding anniversary this year. However, they did not get to spend the day together because Grandma tried to bleed out in a hospital instead. (Granddaddy got her back by having to go the ER on his birthday.)
Tessa got ordained online and then “Operation Cobra” went into action, as we warned Granddaddy, got flowers, a cake, a veil, etc.
After all the rest of the presents were opened, Tessa took Grandma into her room and told her what was about to happen. As Grandma got dressed in her veil and garter, Granddaddy snuck into the suit he had hidden in his office. Then he went to await his beautiful bride.
Uncle Marty walking his mother down the aisle
Most of the family was convinced that they wouldn’t be able to make it through the ceremony with dry eyes (I somehow thought I would be an exception). Tessa decided to break the tension by turning around like this:
She only kept it on for a moment. Quickly into the ceremony, I found myself able to see my grandfather’s face. Here was the man who raised me renewing his vows. I would not be able to contain my tears for long.
After a few words, Tessa asked them if they wanted to say anything. My grandfather, usually a man of few words, launched into a long speech that started with “Let me tell you about this girl I met 62 years ago.” He then spoke of the early days, of how Grandma gave him a daughter and then doubled their household to six with the next birth. He talked of how they built their retirement home for two, but how they’d never been left alone in it since they always had at least one descendant in it (I was the first, moving in as they were building the house!). He spoke of having to leave her on her own to fight in Korea and Vietnam and how so many soldiers didn’t get to come home to their wives.
How was I not supposed to cry, as I watched my strong and wonderful Granddaddy break down, while Grandma couldn’t stop smiling out of pure joy?
When given her chance, she said simply that she would do it all again.
Everyone had a tissue. I thought about how I would never end up doing what they were doing. I thought about Margaret Atwood’s poem, “Habitation.” I thought about how lucky I was to have been raised by these people.
Then there was cake, and removing the garter, and champagne. Kativa, my aunt, explained where the champagne came from. She and her husband had bought it to have for their 25th anniversary, but his brain tumor many years ago kept them from being able to make it to that anniversary.
If I hadn’t been crying before . . .