Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Mother's Intuition (Part One)

I claim to have known  Ry was the one for Em way before Em knew.
Em and Ry's first play together - before they fancied each other

Really! She had been in college a few semesters and often talked about her friends from the Stonehill College Theatre Company.By then, Em had appeared in two productions . She debuted in the spring of 2004 playing a bit role in the relatively lighthearted Goodbye, My Fancy, an old play with a surprisingly modern message about women on a college campus, first produced in  the late forties. Goodbye My Fancy was something you could take your grandmothers to – and we did.

The next production in the Fall of the same year was not so grandmother-friendly. A Mouthful of Birds, a mid-1980s work, connected  seven stories that explored possession, madness, and female violence.  Em played the unhappy wife in the first vignette who slowly succumbs to post-natal psychosis, which leads her to drown her baby. Difficult for even a proud mother in the audience to watch.

 Ry worked behind the scenes in both plays. Light man/electrician. We, no doubt, exchanged a quick handshake as Em introduced me to her theatre pals after the plays. Maybe it was a hug after the second.
The following summer  my mother suffered severe health problems. I was forced to move her to a high-care facility and sell her home. On moving day Em’s theatre friend – Ryan – showed up in  a truck, mind you, to haul furniture. “He just wants to help,” I remember Em telling me. “He’s that kind of guy.”
Before he left I slipped an envelope onto his dashboard, a thank-you note and gift. Before he was gone ten minutes, he returned. “I can’t take this Mrs. Hayden. I helped as a friend.”
I’m not sure I knew he was the one then. But I remember thinking he should be.
(to be continued)                                                                          

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In Their Own Words

Check out Em and Ryan's story in their own words.!our-story

MOTBs and MOTGs  - pass this address  on to your future bride or groom if they are interested in  building  their own wedding site with pictures and music.  It's free.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On Second Thought

Emily’s father would have been 62 today.  He would have relished planning his daughter’s wedding.

Larry liked details. He was very involved in the nitty-gritty of our wedding in 1980. Not that our wedding was much of a production, as compared to new millennium weddings that require two years in advance  bookings, save-the-date announcements, multi-gift-registries,and the support of websites like
Even so, Larry added his share of touches to our day. 
The RX-7 touch in 1980
  •  His idea: no limo. My dad drove me to the church which, after the "I do-s,"  freed up the bride and groom to drive off in our snazzy ‘78 Mazda RX-7.
  • His idea: a venue where we’d  see golfers through the club's reception hall windows, as they putted out on the 18th green. 
  • His idea: a post-party photo at that 18th hole – me holding the flagged pin as he tapped out!  
Larry wasn’t a “you decide honey, it’s your big day” kind of guy.  Dotting the “i” in wedding -- a wedding that fit us perfectly – was a mutual task.

Interestingly, my daughter's fiancĂ©  Ryan has very much involved himself in the details of his and Em’s big day too.  He cares that the color scheme (including his tux) will blend with the season, that the size, shape, and arrangement of the tables will encourage convivial visiting and lots of dancing, that the buffet will sate the most hearty and most health-conscious  diners. I think his physician’s assistant training now, along with his earlier EMT and firefighting training, contributes to him being so detail oriented. A PA must diagnose symptom by symptom; a firefighter must analyze the nature of the blaze.
The mention of firefighters reminds me of a story that begs repeating - especially today. Three years ago, when Em was caught between a rock and a hard place over a number of decisions about her future – one question overshadowed the rest:  Is Ry the one?  Through December of that year she attempted to weigh emotions that were difficult to apply an "err-tight" rationale to. 

Ry the fire-guy
 On one particular afternoon drive, alone in her car in the throes of thought, she felt the need to pull over to the side of the road. Still, behind the steering wheel, she wished she could be sure about what to do. And she wished her father was alive to help her. Before a third wish could pop into her head she was interrupted by the sound of a siren followed by a honk. The long, loud honk blared again as a red fire truck came into view, its crew on its way to a conflagration.

When Em could think straight again – for who can  keep a  train of thought when a fire engine rushes by – the question she had been pondering was followed by an answer:  Ry – the fire guy – is certainly the one. By the time New Year's Eve turned to New Year's Day, a few weeks later, Em and Ry were a couple.

Did I say that Larry wasn’t around to plan Em’s wedding?
 I stand corrected.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This Blog's for You

As I write this, 11 computer screens in America are logged onto As you read it, the blog approaches 1500 hits since its start 7 months ago. Post by post, the readership has been increasing.
I started the blog to record and celebrate the year leading up to my daughter Emily’s wedding. At the time I was working on some pretty heavy writing – a memoir of loss and survival – which completed my requirements for a writing degree in December. (More on the memoir at What a pleasure it was to start to focus on Em’s future while I wrapped up some very necessary reflection on the past.
Like the memoir, this blog seems to have taken on a life of its own. Last week alone, there were 84 U.S. hits, along with two that originated from Canada and two from Costa Rica.  I can pinpoint the Costa Rican connection. Ariel - my cousin-once-removed (what a polarizing title for a first cousin’s daughter!)  moved  to Central America with her recently wed husband in January.
 But my Canadian readers? Who are you? Mothers of brides? Brides? Or perhaps hopeless romantics like my reader pal whose wedding anniversary is the same day as Em and Ry’s date. It would be fun to know.
 And who is calling up  the site from Germany and Russia this week – along with readers from the Netherlands and Belarus this month?  I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even know where Belarus was located before starting the blog; but through your connection, I’ve found out  it is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered  by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Thank you for giving me reason to learn that. I wonder if the entries appear in the native tongues of my European fans?
And to my Algerian, Danish, and British readers -- who  logged in early on, but not lately – it  would be cool to see  you in the current Google Blogspot statistics again  - and even cooler to have you and the regular readers become official “followers”  like MH - my colleague from my high-school teaching days .  That would eliminate the one-way mirror feel from my side of blog post..
I’m thrilled to have all of you dear readers  -- family, friends, and citizens of the world -- share the joy of planning Em and Ry’s wedding. Your loyalty to this site assures me: Loves does make the world go round.

United States
United Kingdom            
Costa Rica

Monday, May 16, 2011

Snip and Tuck

Em’s wedding gown is  almost a wrap.
I’ve marveled at its transformation. At first, a lovely, albeit, large garment that – on a hanger –  mesmerized my daughter. Yet, the gown was a one-of-a kind, the design no longer available. When Emily slipped into the over-sized dress, the shopkeeper gathered the excess material with large clips fastened down its long back zipper. Even with this awkward fit, Em could see the possibilities of this dress - the details of which have been removed from this post to keep the audience guessing!  Trust me, the dress emits the casual elegance that  fits the little-bit-country, little-bit-classy design of the event. A milieu chosen by the future bride and groom.
The first dressmaker to assess the necessary alterations told us - yes, the dress could be refitted, but no- she was not the one to do it. Yet she knew a gal who might give it a try. So we traveled a few hours north to Lowell, MA to meet Jenn, a full-time tailor for Nordstrom’s  who majored in the fine art of textiles the way some people major in the fine art of painting – or writing. She didn’t consider  Em’s over-sized gown too much of a garment  to tackle. Instead she  said, “I can’t wait to get my hands on it.”  That’s exactly what the MOTB needed to hear.
Jenn had “rebuilt” other gowns. The most recent had to be expanded – for a pregnant bride. Compared to that, Em’s would be a cinch – for a girl who sews the way Alicia Keyes sings, that is.  Lots of measuring, ripping of ALL seams, relocating of darts. Like I said, rebuilding.
Now, seven months later, the potential in that first reflection of the dress in the bridal shop mirror has been realized.   The basted seams are now sewn.  I call it the gown that Jenn built.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Four Generations

Em's cousin Stacey

There was a family fest last weekend – a baby shower for Em’s oldest cousin Stacey who is expecting her first baby in June. Four generations of reveling relatives were there - from Stacey’s two grandmothers to the two great grandsons of the clan.  The youngest guest had just turned six; the matriarch of the family is approaching her mid-eighties.
Not since Stacey’s wedding, about eight years ago, have we, as a family, gathered to celebrate the future.  We’ve had our share of holiday and birthday get-togethers through those years. But those red-letter-events have been honoring the day at hand and traditions of the past more than the days that lay ahead. The mindset at Stacey’s baby shower looked forward to family growth and – as Em's wedding  will – the promise of the future. What a joy to be toasting the years ahead and all their possibilities, once again.

Four generations!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"I Do" Have Lots To Do

I started writing MOMMY OF THE BRIDE seven months ago, just as the one-year countdown to Emily’s wedding began. The big day is now five months down the aisle – I mean road. Yep, I’ve started to think in wedding lingo the way my grandparents would think automatically in Italian before they could speak “the English” when they first came to America in the 1920s. It seems everything I do and think lately has taken on a wedding slant.  In my mind, last month’s “April showers” had nothing to do with rain. I had wedding shower planning on the brain.

At that unencumbered one-year-before-the Big-Day mark  - last October - we (referring to the WEdding  “WE”: Em, Ry, and Ry’s parents – Nancy and Matt)  had already chosen  the Barn at Wesleyan, the second Saturday in October, and the minister . WE then reserved blocks of rooms at nearby hotels - which, by the way are starting to fill. And WE watched the fall foliage a little more closely than usual, especially the display on the one-year-ahead -of-the-wedding   weekend, to get an idea of the colors and temperatures  we could expect in October of 2011.

That was the one-decision-at-a-time stage of wedding planning. One week, sign with the photographer. In another week or two, draft the  flower agreement. Later in the month –a  guest list pow-wow.  Leisurely planning for sure.

WE’ve now reached simultaneous decisions-making  time. Full menu choices (WE opted for fall fare), lighting arrangements(ceiling, yes; support beams, no), and figuring out the time to start and finish the party were the particulars of last week(last item being more complicated than one would think). Shower date,shower place, and shower menu are coming together this week, along with hotel-to-site and then back-to-hotel guest transportation for the day of the wedding. And I’m being asked pretty regularly, “Get your dress yet?”

 The singular questions that demanded the singular answers seven months ago are turning into the many questions that need answers today – and I expect will eventually have needed them yesterday, if you get my drift. So I'm rewording a popular T-shirt slogan to: I can only answer one  question a day. Today isn't that question's day. Or is it?  
Time to up this wedding workout.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Royal Models

I’m no Royalty groupie, but the Brits seemed to have gotten - getting hitched - right this time:
Marry for love.
Keep, but tweak, tradition.
Have a sense of humor.
Add those precepts to the sensibilities the  Middleton clan - commoners - exhibited through the wedding of Prince Will and their daughter Kate, and I’ve got  a standard of sorts for the wedding Emily and Ryan have put into motion.
Ten years, they’ve been together, Will and Kate. Met as university students in their late teens. I don’t think  Prince William will flub a declaration of  love for his Catherine by adding ,“Whatever love means,” the way his father did with Diana, a bride just past her teens, three decades ago. Charles was twelve years her senior and had a matron-in-waiting.
 Em and Ry have clocked well over two years as a couple and were best buddies in college, four years previous.   Their devotion is palpable. Touches, glances, terms of endearment. All the makings of pre-wedding bliss.    
Chances are the Prince and his lady, officially dubbed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge just after  the” I do-s”,  didn’t have a lot of wiggle room when it came to ritual.  They couldn’t opt to exchange vows in a sunny grove or plan to dance the night away in a dressed-up barn, the way Em and Ry are able to, as they place their “casually elegant” stamp  on their day.
But the royal pair did pop a couple of accent pillows on the classic couch of their nuptials. A few hours after the traditional procession and recession, carriage ride, balcony smooch, and military plane salute, the pair emerged, zipping around the royal courtyard in the elder Charles'  convertible Aston Martin. Multicolored ribbons stretched across the hood., or as they say in ol' England - the bonnet. Tin cans dragged in the rears, behind a license that read JUST WED. I’m thinking that could give Ryan – a fireman – some ideas about a ladder truck!
 Grins flashed amid the formal bows and curtsies of the royals’ day.  Young Prince Harry called his bro Dude in place of Duke. I can only imagine how Ryan’s brother Matt will lighten up the ceremony and celebration with a remark or two directed at the groom.  A corny reference to the honeymoon as the holiday Ryan will take -  before he begins to work for a new boss, perhaps.  And Matt’s twins – the two-year-old flower girls – are bound to amuse by means of their seriousness the way the Duke’s godchild evoked laughs in London. A comic touch that emerged out of the drama of a toddler covering her ears at the sound of millions of hands clapping.
Love, ceremony, and smiles shaped the Duke and Duchess’ day –a royal model for us Yanks for sure.