On September 25th, 2004, my oldest son Brian made the smartest decision in his life. He married Abby. Abby’s Story is a really good post her on her Blog. A beautiful story that will bring out the tissues. This is a story about what she didn’t see.
Our story starts in Houston, Texas. We, the soon to be in-laws were flying from Las Vegas to Charleston I had no illusions, four year old Rosie was to be the flower girl and we were escorting her eastward. We had to change planes in Houston and we landed in a thunderstorm. It was sporting. When the pilot put the 757 on the runway it was more an impact than a touchdown. Then the skidding started. For only the second time in my life I was wondering if we’d survive a flight. The nose swung left and I thought, “We’re going off on the left”. Then the nose swung right. “Okay, we’re off on the right”. At least I could see where we were heading. I’m counting rows to the emergency exit in front of us. Then we swung back and the flight resumed being normal. Rosie and her Mom were first time fliers and were all excited as we came down the jetway. As I was watching them, number two son Tim leaned over and whispered, “Were we crashing when we landed?”
We had about an hour lay over and spent the time watching the weather channel. The topic of everyone’s conversations was hurricane Jeanne. Our blushing bride had selected to have her nuptials at the exact time and place Jeanne was predicted to make landfall. WOOHOO! I usually don’t drink when I fly. But this wasn’t one of those times. Jack and Coke please.
When we got back from the bar the weather channel announced that Jeanne had changed course and was now headed for Florida. My bride literally screamed “WOO HOO!”. I was horrified as the line for the flight to Jacksonville turned as one towards us. 100 angry faces. “Oh shit.”
Me: “Let’s go get a drink.”
Her: “We already had a drink.”
Me: “Let’s go eat.”
Her: “I’m not hungry”.
Me:”Let’s go smoke.”
Her: “We just did.”
Me:”Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
Me:”Because those nice folks flying to Florida are going to kill you.”
The Beach House
We got to Charleston in the dead of night. Brian picked us up and drove us to The Beach House. It would serve as the Command Post of the wedding and the place where all the guests were bedding down. It was a brilliant idea. Some of us (mostly me) hadn’t seen these folks for years. I was nervously wondering if Brian’s uncle Paul still wanted to kick the shit out of me because of the divorce.
When we got there the house was bustling with activity. I think we were the last to arrive but the womenfolk were out shopping for food. Coffee was made. Sandwiches were passed out. we all sat around catching up. I think the party broke up late. Paul and I were friends again and there was an inside family joke that I was the butt of. Suffice to say that Brian’s Mom refused to come on the mention of my name. Sort of. There’s more to it but that’s a family secret. Needless to say Paul kept ribbing me about it.
Rosie being all of four was overwhelmed by all the grownups. Paul’s wife Tina met Rosie and said the best thing I have ever heard someone say to a toddler. “Hi Rosie, my name is Tina. How old are you? Four? I’m four too. Let’s be buddies.” Wow. Tina and I had bonded years before. We were the family outlaws (kinda like in-laws only with attitude). We both share a wicked sense of humor. I was stunned to she that she was bald. Her friend was going through chemo and Tina shaved her head in support. That’s the kind of person Tina is. No half stepping
The Wedding Day
Despite of the late night, morning came early for all of us. Paul was banging out a Southern Breakfast. As we ate, the organizing began. Brian and I, with a couple of groomsmen in tow went to do a beach reconnaissance. We observed quite a few weddings in progress and noted the pros and cons of each. Tell everyone to be bare foot. Check. We watched a bridal arch fly into the wind giving the bride a shiner. Make sure arch is secure. Check. We picked a spot conveniently across the street from the Beach House. Wedding scheduled for sunset. Plenty of time to move chairs and stuff across the street.
Meanwhile, Rosie getting ready for her role as Flower Girl. The bridal party showed up and sequestered themselves in the master bedroom. They grabbed Rosie and made sure her dress fit. Dress fits. Check. Cute hat. Check. Flower basket. Check. Flowers? Um…not check. In all the planning, flowers for the Flower Girl was missed. No problem. The back yard has a lovely flower garden. Rosie was unleashed to the back yard to “pick some pretty flowers”. She proceeded to defoliate that back yard. Ooops. Hope nobody notices.
After lunch and a little…. okay a lot of Madden it was time to set up the wedding. The menfolk saddled up and started dragging chairs across the street.
We had forgot one tiny thing. The Tide. What was acres of beach in the morning was replaced by the Atlantic Ocean. Whoops. The groomsmen were stunned into inaction. WTF? The area that was close to dry was strewn with seaweed and trash. With disaster imminent, I took charge.”You two start setting up chairs. Everyone else, cleanup.” A trash can magically appeared and filled. Check. Seaweed moved. Um…no check. There was too much to move. There was another problem. the waves were lapping in suggesting that the Bride and Groom would exchange vows about ankle deep. So I got artistic. If we can’t get rid of the seaweed, arrange it artistically as a back drop and a handy dam to hold the waves back. CHECK!
Here Comes the Bride
The music started. There must have been music. Some of this is a little hazy for me. Of course I was crying. It was incredibly beautiful. Jeanne way down south was painting the Carolina sky with colors one only sees in Heaven. The evening fog was just starting. The wedding party came out through the bushes and mist like wood nymphs. Rosie lead the way, basket overflowing. She was pelting the groom’s side because she was throwing flowers at people she knew. Someone said, “Throw some one the other side Sweetie.” Dutifully, Rosie hauled back and delivered fistful of flowers point blank into the Bride’s Grandmother’s face. Right on the Kisser. The hush over the crowd was broken up when Grandma started to laugh. Close one.
Wind started to kick up as Brian and Abby exchanged vows. It was then that Rosie’s hat flew off. It flew right to left all the way to the end. With out breaking the moment or their pose for that matter. The hat was caught and passed back to be put on Rosie’s head. Continue with wedding. Check. Bridesmaid’s hand firmly on top up of Rosie’s head. Check. After the newly weds left, everyone picked up their chair or whatever and the site was field stripped in no time at all.
Back to the Beach House. “Rosie don’t touch the cake”. Okay cake cut. Check. Let the dancing BEGIN!! For the Father/Daughter dance, they shagged. Cool as shit. The Party raged. Somewhere along, the traditional pictures were taken. Presents were opened. Abby’s little brother Adam jumped from the roof into the pool. Check.
The Day After
Needless to say, no one drove home. Everyone woke up a little slower. Kisses good bye and one by one and in small groups everyone took their leave. We were going to stay for a vacation at Brian and Abby’s so we were left there with the newly weds. We all piled into Brian’s car and went about six blocks. That’s where the car died. Um….not check. Brian lifted the hood and proceeded to do automotive maintenance. I pitched in while the women watched. you could smell the testosterone. The autopsy pronounced the car…..dead. While the menfolk were brainstorming trips to the parts store or maybe the car rental, Abby said, “Why don’t we just call someone?” Did I mention it was raining? Her Dad came to the rescue. But it took a couple of hours. So we went shopping. We cruised the strip mall checking out tourist shops and introducing Rosie’s Mom to Southern groceries.
And They Lived Happily Ever After