Two weeks before the End, there was a beginning: my daughter's marriage.
It was a poignant occasion with all of our family there. One niece came from Australia! It was the first time we'd all been together since, well, since I don't know when.We got to know the groom's family too and they are the most wonderful people.
We Potters, as my brother said one time, "always have to do things a little differently." That particular time he was referring to our purchase of a turquoise VW van, but the wedding ceremony in a small New York city park was no exception. There were no bouquets, no white frothy wedding dress with satin shoes, no bridesmaids or groomsmen, no fancy reception with wedding cake. The flowers were attached to a park structure with the rubber bands they came in. The champagne was put on an old wooden park table, the glasses on the trays meant for the ice tubs. It wasn't a fancy setting but it had everything we needed: the bride, the groom, friends and family, and sunshine.
The ceremony itself was simple but meaningful. My daughter, never at a loss for words, admitted that she was nervous, but her hand-written vows were funny and heartfelt. The groom put his written vows back in his pocket and looked her in the eye and said such sweet words that we were all moved.
When my daughter was christened, my mother gave her a lace cap to be worn on that day and used on her wedding day. Since my daughter didn't have pockets in her un-wedding dress, the groom carried it in his pocket. It was a sweet reminder of all our loved ones who were no longer with us.
After the ceremony, we all walked a few blocks to a restaurant where we ate creative and delicious food, drank champagne, laughed and cried as we toasted the newlyweds, delighted in being two families happily joined together. The restaurant desserts were divine, and consolation for the lack of a cake!!
As part of the ceremony, the two mothers spoke. Here is what I said to the couple:
You all know that I believe in the power of words. Here are some times when words really matter in a marriage.
The first is today, when the two of you look at each other and say the words that will join you in marriage. You say them in front of witnesses, people who have always loved you and supported you and will continue to do so.
A second is when you disagree with each other. Words that you say during conflict can actually bring you closer if spoken with compassion. When working things out, look at each other, speaking and listening through the same eyes of the love you are using today. Your words can be “I’m sorry, I’ll try to do better, I forgive you, I’m willing to find a solution for us.”
A third is during times of sadness or grief. No one can understand another’s sorrow, but you can listen with your heart, say words like, “It’s okay to cry, I’m here for you, I loved her too, You have my support for as long as you need it.”
A fourth is broader, more constant, and that is in your every day expression of love for each other. It’s waking up and saying Good Morning, taking the time to share the successes and challenges of your busy day. It is a meal together where you look up and enjoy each other’s company. Your words can be, “I admire you, I care about that, You look so beautiful/handsome, Thank you for listening/telling me that, I love you.”
Use your words wisely during your marriage. Mete them out with thoughtfulness. Be kind to one another. I love you both and know that your life will be full of the kind of words that will strengthen your marriage.
I know that my daughter and son-in-law are off to a great start, joined in marriage with the approval of all of us who love them.
It was a beautiful beginning.