When I first proposed the idea of having my son’s rehearsal dinner here at the farmette I imagined an intimate, cozy affair but with a guest list of nearly 50, I had to adjust! The reality of it sunk in as I ordered a tent, browsed the public market for local produce, and discussed how to fancy up the place while still sticking to our value of keeping it simple!
Because I haven’t entered the world of Pinterest, I relied on my own creative imagination. Rather brilliantly (I thought), I decided to take the clothesline from eye-sore to focal point. I gathered up photos and mementos from Patrick and Colleen’s journeys through childhood (showing both their shiny and not-so-shiny moments) to clothespin to the line with a sign that read, “Is there some dirty laundry on the line?” Guests then had a chance to discover (or re-live) some of those memories along with the bride and groom!
Ever the procrastinator, I was still working on the project until the last minute! Sorting through a box of old photos, I came across one of my mother with Patrick on the day he graduated from college.
Looking deeply, I could see in her eyes the beginnings of the dementia that eventually took root.
Suddenly hit with a wash of grief, I fingered the photo and sobbed. Life was moving too fast. Not only had it snatched away my parents and grandparents but I was now the mother of a grown son who was about to be married. How was that possible? How could I be a grandmother when I still felt the ache of longing to be grand-mothered myself?
There is nothing like the unsolicited nurturance that comes from our elders though in their absence I have become adept at tending myself.
In the year that followed my mother’s death, I spent many weekends at the Abbey on the Genesee in silence feeling my way through life without her. I kept a wide birth of breathing room around me and practiced saying “no” more often to things I didn’t want to do. I wrote. I wept. I baked bread.
After I had weeded out my life to care for Mom during her illness, I didn’t want to fill it in thoughtlessly. I wanted to plant a new interior garden, one that would grow with an abundance of things that were life-giving. In the midst of the impending rehearsal dinner, however, tending myself went out the window. I was out of balance but enjoyed the whirling magic of wedding preparations. I didn’t rest until the last guest had left the farmette sufficiently plumped on everything from focaccia to crostata!
Stability came as the morning light made its way into our bedroom the next day. There was time to gather myself back in as we slowly put things back in order: tablecloths were folded, leftovers reorganized, and pictures taken off the clothesline.
I paused again when I came to the picture of Patrick and Mom.
In just hours, he would walk down the aisle to meet his bride and they would begin their new life together. Darrell and I would open our arms to a new daughter-in-law. Little Patrick would officially have a new step-mom. My heart was so full. Still, there was a thread of sadness woven in.
While they hadn’t intentionally meant for it to happen, Patrick and Colleen planned their wedding so that it fell on the second anniversary of my mother’s death. Seeing Mom looking out at me from the picture, I realized the planning couldn’t have been more perfect.
She would’ve smiled seeing Patrick wait for Colleen as she walked down the aisle on her father’s arm. She would’ve laughed out loud with the rest of us as little Patrick took to the dance floor adding ninja kicks and punches into his fancy moves. She would’ve loved the dessert table!!
Life has a cyclical nature to it. When I heard Patrick promise to honor and love Colleen through sickness and health and in good times and bad, maybe I finally got it.
Joy and sorrow co-exist. There is a place in my heart where they are intertwined and give rise to gratitude for the whole of it. It takes many different ingredients kneaded carefully together to make a beautiful loaf of bread. Why should life be different?
Life is moving fast but rather than mourn the loss of what was, I want to sink deeply into what is. Patrick and Colleen’s anniversary will forever remind me of both the fragility and the joy in life. What a gift!
So while I may feel the loss of spending time in the kitchen with my mother or grandmother, I’m also going to celebrate the joy in being able to cook with my kids and my grandson. This weekend my daughter, Cori, is coming over. She’s not the little girl she was many moons ago.
She’s got some kitchen savvy. After listening to me contemplate making bagels for months she finally tired of it, pulled out the bread bowl, and made the bagels herself! This time, we’ll make the bagels together. You can be sure that I’ll savor the bagels, but I’ll be savoring life as well!
I’ll post the photos and recipe in my next post! I’d love you to follow Kneading Life on Facebook. Hope to see you around the bread bowl soon, I’ll be at the Rochester Brainery, the Genesee Country Museum’s Fair Days, and Lightways Journey at the Barn in October! Check out other Upcoming Classes, too.