Wedding Love


Ed and I did a JP courthouse wedding for insurance reasons. We both took a couple of hours off work and a couple of best friends. As I was about to leave work, one of my favorite supervisees asked where I was going, and I casually said "I'm getting married, and I'll be back at about 3:00. When I returned there was a bottle of champagne at my workspace. The marriage vows were very moving, to my surprise. We kissed and went back to work.

Then we had the big church wedding, funding courtesy of my mom's modest inheritance. She immediately told me she wanted spend every penny on my wedding. Her mother was a cruel and abusive person, both of us had PTSD from being in Grandma's care. I'm very aware that I was an awful teen and both of us had mental illness, and psychiatry was not on my parents' blue collar radar. So our wedding planning and splurging reflected a mom/daughter love story. One of my best friends is one of the best seamstresses in Chicago, so THE DRESS was central to this. It put $2000 in my friend's pocket for designing and making a custom, unique dress for me. We sat down and had a long talk with Julia and she sketched out a few ideas. First I wanted to wear my mom's dress, but it didn't fit my shape. And my mom had bad associations because her mom got the cheapest dress possible instead of one that my mom wanted. Julia awesomely asked, "How about we include some of the wonderful lace and make it part of of the dress. Donna, how would you feel if you could rip the dress apart for me and just give me the lace?" My mom was glowing at the suggestion. So we sat in the hotel room and with my grandma's abusive "present" and ripped it it apart in malicious glee. I can't find the words to express how healing it was, bonding us together and drawing us closer. If you can exorcise a dress,then that's what we did. Mom and I picked out the cloth for the new dress. It took a long time, Julia assured me that when I saw the right fabric, I would just KNOW. (sort of like with the groom). And I did, cream brocaded roses. I am what one of my queer friends calls a "heterosexual dyke" - no make up, no hairstyling beyond a single braid, knew more about cars than Ed, resolute feminist, not shaving because I damn well have the right to be a mammal. Julia noted that Ed brought out my lurking "girly" side, so she sketched up a renaissance-sexy-fifties-silk and brocade dress. Then she made it come true. My mom drove four hours to every fitting and we had a blast together. We shopped for food and cake, looked at reception places, picked favors and flowers.The process broke down emotional walls and healed much of the pain we had inflicted on each other when I was a teen.

It was a good thing we did all the planning together, because the day before my wedding mom had a stroke. I lied to her to get her to the hospital and held her hand during painful procedures. I missed the rehearsal and dinner. I missed greeting Ed as he got to Chicago. I missed my mom at the wedding. We were going to to cancel the ceremony, but mom could shake her head "no" all though her speech was gibberish. She tried to check out against medical advice to come to the wedding, but Ed's mom Ruth talked her out of it. when no one else could, because she alone could understand the anguish of missing her daughter's wedding. Someone put a cell phone on the alter so that my mom could hear the wedding. And I had fought against videotaping the wedding ("A wedding is a sacrament, not a sitcom.") and my brother finally convinced me. Because he won that argument, the whole wedding party was able to go straight to mom's hospital room so she could see the wedding on video immediately. So we missed part of our reception as well. We wanted to cancel the honeymoon, and our friends and parents convinced us that mom was out of danger and we could keep in contact on the phone. So we went but with heavy hearts.

Mom died in 2006, the day she was discharged from the hospital after several months in a coma due to a one in three million disease. The doctors had said that mom was not sick anymore and just needed nursing home and rehab for the paralysis from being in a coma for so long. She was transferred to the nursing home and literally a few hours later she died alone.

Ed and I have an extremely happy marriage and twin raising enterprise. She missed their first day at kindergarten.

I still miss my mom every day.


Anonymous said...

I remember you singing "Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms" at your reception and you being so composed and staying on pitch while you were singing, which is no small feat in front of a crowd. You didn't mention about the tux fiasco. Jim almost had to stand up for Ed in jean shorts!

Greg said...

I am a New York Times bestselling author working on a new book about mother-daughter relationships and thought you might want to contribute. Please visit my blog for information about being interviewed for “Mom's Little Angel.”

Gregory E. Lang
Author of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Mom” and more.

LynAnne Smucker said...

Dear Mary,
I remember how your mom looked so proud and full of love for you that morning at breakfast when you convinced her to just see you in the dress and then go to hospital because she wasn't talking clearly. Being in the wedding and rather in a daze from planning my own to come, I had no clue how serious your mother's medical condidtion was. Nor did I know the story about what you and your mother did to your mom's wedding dress to transform something with bad memories into something healing and good. I wish I could have been there for you more during her illness and death, but I am glad that you had a chance to come closer to your mother in the process of your wedding. I'm glad you wrote about this experience. Love you.

Shelli said...

Mary, what a beautiful story. I'm so glad I followed the link from listemes. I'm also so sorry that your mom's life ended the way that it did. What fantastic times were ahead for you two after all that bonding and healing. I hope you get into this man's book; your story is stunning.