I've mentioned my dad several times in the last few blogs, and it occurs to me that I miss him. He's been gone a year and four months, but there are still moments when I forget that.
Tonight I figure the world could use a laugh, so I'm going to tell you the story about my last wedding.
First, yes, I've had more than one. In fact, I've had more than two, and they all come with stories attached. For one thing, this most recent was the first one I was on time for, but that's another blog or two. And as a point of fact, I usually refer to it as "the last one" rather than "the most recent one" because I'll be damned if I'm going to go around this particular mulberry bush again. When my dad realized Ed and I were "getting serious," as they used to say back in the Dark Ages, he asked me how many times I was planning on doing this marriage thing. My answer: "Daddy, I'm gonna run this play 'til I get it right."
So this is the last one, 'cause I nailed it, as far as I can tell. And if I find out later I didn't, I'm surely not going to set myself up again!
Be that as it may... We got welded (as my old friend the Rev. Geoffrey St. John Hoare used to say) on Saturday, November 3, 2001. It was small, but madness nevertheless: planning a wedding in the month after 9/11 was stressful, to say the least. Migraines abounded.
My family started wandering into Louisville on Friday evening. My sisters arrived first, but missed their exit, ended up across the river, and called from Indiana at about midnight. Bri and I were still putting buttons - about 50 of them, I think - on my dress, and we had a really punchy conversation with sister Paula about Barbie's physiology. They gave up trying to find us and got a motel room over there, and we did actually get a little sleep.
Mom and Dad came in the next morning, and my elder son, a U.S. Marine, arrived on a red-eye flight from California or somewhere in mid-morning, and we all went to lunch and then caravaned to the church, because even though it was a straight shot from where we were, I was afraid to try to give anyone directions at that point. When we arrived, a couple hours before the wedding, my sisters were there and we girls set up camp in the parlor, while the boys and my parents went upstairs with my friend Georgianna to set up the reception.
Started getting dressed and we realized we'd left the jacket to my dress in the closet back at the apartment, along with my daughter's suit. My daughter, Bri, and younger son, Mitch (who lived in the apartment with me but is monumentally directionally challenged), headed back to fetch them.
Meanwhile, my younger sister, Cheri, who was supposed to do my hair, had left her hot curlers, round brushes, hairpins, and other do-dads and necessities in North Carolina. She didn't have time to go back for them, so I plundered in my tote bag and found a couple of barrettes and a comb, and we decided to wing it.
After a while, my friend Janet came downstairs from the reception area with a lack-of-progress report: "Your mother says you don't have enough sandwich fillings. And she wants to know why you didn't make the sandwiches ahead of time."
"Because I didn't get to Meier until 11 o'clock last night, is why. And I still had to help Bri put buttons on my dress. Tell her there will be enough." Janet dutifully went back upstairs with my reply.
It's a 10-minute drive on a Saturday morning from the church to the apartment; the kids had been gone close to an hour by now. I was a little anxious, particularly since my daughter was supposed to be my one attendant.
After a while, Janet - who is, incidentally, the pastor's secretary - came back. The cake had arrived, and my mother and the Cake Lady wanted to know where to put it. "On a table," I suggested. "Geez, Janet - you work here! You figure it out!"
Back upstairs went Janet.
A little bit later, Janet again: "Your mother wants to know where the makings are for the punch." Well, duh... The makings for the freakin' punch were sitting in their freakin' cans, thawing in the freakin' sink in the freakin' kitchen in my freakin' apartment. Where did she think the makings for the punch were?
At this point, the kids had been gone an hour and ten minutes, and I was getting really antsy. I called the apartment, hoping they were still there - hoping they weren't wandering lost in the wilderness of the East End, hoping they could snag the juice and ginger ale and other ingredients for the fabulous "Baptist Champagne" I'd planned, hoping they were going to make it back for the wedding - but there was no reply.
"Don't worry," said Janet. "We'll think of something." Okay, kiddo - not worrying. Also not thinking about a white horse. (Old joke from my grade school days - if you're not older than dirt, you won't get it.) Also not thinking about a train wreck...
Five minutes later, Bri and Mitch returned with my jacket, her suit, and no punch makings. "Don't worry," Bri told me, skinnying into her silk pants. "Where's the kitchen?" Five minutes after that, she and her brother passed by with their arms full of random partially full juice jugs and packages of frozen fruit and a few cans of soda - we had punch coming up. The girl is the world's greatest Crisis Chef - throw her into an ingredientless surprise dinner party, and you will dine in style.
45 minutes to kick-off. The groom had arrived, thanks be to God. (I'd even panicked about that.) Everyone was dressed. Paula had found me a "something borrowed" and a "something blue" to go with my new dress and shoes and my old pearls: she tied her small daughter's Barbie comb around my ankle with a length of the blue crochet thread she was using to make Barbie a dress. (The comb is long gone, but the thread is still tied around the handle of my best hairbrush.) And... here came Janet.
"Your mother is upset." Okay. And your point is...? "She says there are no nuts."
I looked at her for a second, opened my mouth, and let out the first thing that fell from my brain: "Janet. Look around you. We're surrounded by nuts."
She shook her head and left. Five minutes later, she was back. "It's okay," she said. "Your father has gone to get nuts."
At this point, "geez Louise" went out the door. I started with my high-school-favorite string of expletives and rolled downhill from there. My dad always got people lost with his directions - he'd invariably give you two or three alternate ways to get there, and somewhere in the middle, he'd start crossing them up. And he couldn't follow them, either. He'd forget the name of the street where he was supposed to turn, he'd confuse right and left, he'd eventually find his way back because he made a point of keeping the sun in the right position in relation to himself (honest to God), but he'd be late and he wouldn't have - or even remember - what he went for.
We were going to be cleaning up after the reception at six in the evening, and my dad was going to get back - without the nuts.
30 minutes to kick-off. Janet (who had beat a hasty retreat after the previous encounter) returned with more news. "Your mother is going to kill your father."
"Okay," I said. "At this point, she's probably looking for someone to kill. Might as well be Daddy. But I'm curious as to why."
As it turns out, my dad had been given directions to the Kroger on Brownsboro Road. It's easy, really: go west on Frankfort to Ewing, right on Ewing, left on Brownsboro, and there you are. However, he'd gotten as far as the intersection of Frankfort and Ewing, spotted a Walgreen's drug store, and decided they'd have nuts.
Which they did.
My dad had returned with about 50 single-serving packages of Planter's peanuts. They were on special.
The bottom line: My mom did not kill my dad. (Parkinson's did that several years later, but that's another blog, and I feel like laughing tonight, so we'll leave it.) The wedding happened, and the groom stayed for the whole thing - and he's still here. In spite of it being November 3, the weather was like April - or May, even: 75 degrees and not a cloud to be found. Georgianna finally got to sit down and rest her feet, Janet was impressed with the punch, and everyone thought the cake was gorgeous.
And eight years later, we're still telling the story about the nuts.