How I spent my summer vacation (so far)

I went to a wedding! My son’s wedding! If weddings bore you, please skip this post! The botanical garden at the Toledo Zoo was gorgeous, very deep green and lush. It did not rain, a blessing, and as expected, the flower girl cried, but she had a beautiful peach organdy dress to cry in. Paige (my daughter) and Antonya (Maid of Honor) were elegant in black with jet beaded accents (different dresses and knee-length) while the men were in formal black also. Marcie’s gown was like a Victorian interpretation of Grecian draperies–empire-waisted, square-necked, and with a flowing train. Her bouquet was tightly bound red and orange roses with tiger lilies, one of the most beautiful bouquets I’ve ever seen. The music was very good too–Ted and Marcie spent a great deal of time selecting a soundtrack for  the wedding and for the reception as well. I did not get my wish for an instrumental version of “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey (he found one) for the processional, but the recessional was to “Do you Realize” by the Flaming Lips. The processional was good though–they used Cat Power’s “Sea of Love.”

Now that it’s been a couple of days since driving my mom back to Wichita after the wedding, I think this may have been her last breakout from assisted living. She is slipping cognitively and is increasingly scary to be around. Part of the problem is me; I can’t listen to her tell revisionist family histories and not correct. Seriously, I didn’t want the new other side of the family to think we’re all nuts. In her past, we lived in California the whole time (instead of seven years when I was in 7th to 12th grade) and there were earthquakes twice a week where we had to grab lamps like Eva Gabor did when the trains went by on Green Acres. In this new past her thesis made it out of committee and she received her M.A. while I, oddly, didn’t want to go to college, but went anyway because she talked me into it. I did okay, but am not that bright of course compared to her and the rest of her relatives, which now genetically include the cousins on my father’s side. I’m not sure how this picture includes my doctorate, but standards may be strangely different these days.

At one point driving back, I was trying to change lanes to get on I-44 from I-70 in St. Louis and she screamed,”Oh! Look at that car!” I missed the exit and missed having an accident, but when I tried to tell her screaming is bad car etiquette, she denied saying anything about a car saying, “All I said was ‘Look, there’s the Mississippi!’” Revisionist history on the fly. I’m writing this partially because I do see the funny side, but also to say…I’m mentally tired and need to snap out of it. Each day gets a little better, and I think it was good to get her visit out of the way now rather than have it divide up the summer. She dearly loves weddings too– no one wanted her to miss this one.

I had a silent day Saturday and that helped a lot. I need to extract that constantly chattering voice from my head and get back to the deep silences, the ones that have to happen before new ideas come knocking. The tapping can be faint, and I must be attentive to hear.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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