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Jo's (Monday) Morning Exercise

Describe a scene from the first Wedding you ever attended. Pick a short span of time, such as sitting in a pew next to your fidgeting little sister while you watched the bridesmaids walk carefully down the aisle, trying not to trip; or sitting at a banquet table with a napkin fan on your plate wondering when the hell it would all be over; or watching your parents dance for the first time; or... you get the picture. Try to convey what you were feeling without naming it, but through your voice and how you describe the scene as it unfolds in front of you. Remember to use the senses, but use the lens, too. Have fun! And be nice to the bridesmaids. Chances are they are not the ones who picked out their dresses. Trust me.


All I remember of the wedding day is that our dresses matched Mom’s – white with tiny green and yellow flowers – and that Mr. Ed got sick.

Hearing my mom say, “We’re going to get married” is the memory that never dims down the long hallway of years.

I didn’t cry when she told me.

We were eating dinner – pork chops and mashed potatoes. And probably a canned vegetable. I remember setting down my fork because there was suddenly a lump in my throat and I knew I wouldn’t be able to swallow any more food.

But I did not cry.

I didn’t like Wayne. He was Mom’s boyfriend. There had been a few other guys over the years, but they were never around for more than a few dates. Wayne was the one who stayed … the one who wouldn’t go away, despite my cold and unlikable behavior.

In that instant, my ten-year-old mind grasped a mature concept: if my mom was talking about marriage, Wayne was never going to go away, and my tears would only make her feel bad. I understood that when people announced they were getting married, they expected everyone else to be happy for them. So I stared down at my plate while Mom talked about matching dresses. My sister was delighted by the idea. At six, it meant a new dress for her … not a new life.

I liked my life the way it was. I liked having Mom all to myself.

“Aren’t you happy?” my mom asked, and suddenly she was crying.

“Uh-huh,” I mumbled, trying to sound convincing. To this day I’m not sure if she was crying because I didn’t react with joy … or because she could see my struggle, and knew I was doing my best not to be selfish for the first time in my life.

It was a hot August day when Mom and Dad got married. I don’t remember the ceremony, except that it was in a judge’s office.

I have a photo of the four of us assembled awkwardly into our brand new family. We’re standing in the back yard by the rose bushes. My mom is radiant in her light floral dress, her hair piled on top of her head. My sister and I smile at the camera, all lanky bare legs and arms in our “wedding dresses.” Wayne – who became our Dad in every sense of the word – beams from the height of his promotion to Husband and Father.

Then Mr. Ed, our beagle mix, added drama to the festivities by collapsing from the heat. No amount of cajoling would persuade him to get up and act healthy.

My sister and I were shipped off on our “honeymoon” at Bob and Sally’s house in the country. Then Mom and Dad piled Mr. Ed into the car for a trip to the animal hospital. They called us later to report that he perked up for the car ride, and was grinning a happy doggy grin by the time he hopped onto the examining table.

Comments

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lisayee
Sep. 20th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
That was very moving. I hope you're going to tap into that for a book.
lkmadigan
Sep. 21st, 2005 01:39 am (UTC)
Thank you, Lisa.


lisayee
Sep. 21st, 2005 02:58 am (UTC)
I need to know. Did you ever learn to like Wayne?
lkmadigan
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:40 am (UTC)
It didn't take long for me to love Wayne. I still love him.

He's my Dad. It was a lucky day for our whole family when he met my mother.

I have a biological father. But he was never really my Dad.
marypearson
Sep. 21st, 2005 10:20 pm (UTC)
whew, that leaves me breathless. A beautiful description of such a hard transition.
And it is very neat to hear that Wayne relished his new role of "dad."
lkmadigan
Sep. 22nd, 2005 01:51 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Breathless?

Wow.



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