This week has been a week of triggers for me – Mother’s Day, a niece’s wedding, and making plans to revisit the church where we got our Greek crowns for our Orthodox wedding. I could say that returning to the San Francisco Bay Area has been a catalyst of triggers and revisiting the past of mostly wonderful memories.
But making plans to revisit that church, remembering our wedding, I also recall so many things. How I was a new convert to the Orthodox Church having been baptized and Chrismated just 2 months before the wedding. My then fiancée was Chrismated just 8 months before me. We were both new but not alone in this experience because the entire church was a convert church, meaning, they had all come from a Protestant church and when their pastor converted to Orthodoxy, half of the church went with him.
Anyway, here I am, a recent convert knowing very few people in the church. With a wedding to plan. No local friends other than co-workers because in Jehovah’s Witness circles, when somebody leaves, they are treated as no longer existing. My mother made it clear she did not approve of my choice. She called me at work to say “good-bye.” That’s a day you don’t forget. Naturally, I didn’t invite her to the wedding.
One weekend she called several times hemming and hawing about her purpose. By Sunday night she blurted out that she wanted to come to the wedding. There was a bit of negotiation going on, but eventually, I invited her and my step dad. In fact, I insisted he accompany her. Why, I don’t remember. Maybe because I thought, “If we’re going to perpetuate this facade, he’d better come, too.”
My Sacramental wedding ceremony to my soul mate was the most beautiful moment of my life. I recalled the details for weeks, months, years later. How the choir sang “God Grant You Many Years.” How the church bells rang after we stood outside immediately afterward. How the scent of Sugar Pines of the Coastal Range and California sunshine perfumed the church grounds as people celebrated with us. It will live and breathe within me forever. The years since have fulfilled the promise of that day and I pray that “God will grant us many more years.”
This week I particularly recall my mother in her beautiful royal blue “mother of the bride” dress, her pearls, her purse, and her shoes. I recall how my childhood friends from SoCal who I hadn’t seen in 20 years surprised me – I hadn’t been sure they would receive the invitations because I’d sent them to their mother’s homes. My step dad’s sister from the Central Valley met up with my parents, down from Oregon. Even my half-sister and her daughter and her friend and daughter made it down from Oregon. I would have family at the wedding after all.
Wedding week was quite the week. My husband’s parents and his two brothers flew in from Massachusetts, Iowa, and Tennessee. His aunt and uncle drove up from Los Angeles. We drove them all over the Bay Area showing them the sights, including sharing a memorable lunch at Moss Beach Distillery.
All of that was before I’d found and met my father, which would change the relationship with my mother forever. I miss that relationship, I mourn that relationship, I long for that relationship. But I can’t undo what I know now. And when somebody knows you know, even though they deny everything, they will treat you differently. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but truth is something I value more than anything else so I will have to live with it. (What I learned from that meeting became Myths of the Fatherless.)
In book 2 of The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie tells us to share with others – share your story, your resources, your time, your knowledge – and that by sharing, we also receive. I’ve been writing poetry this week, but I also wanted to share more of my story here.