My youngest daughter, Elly, married this past weekend. A magnificent ceremony filled with so much love and consideration for all who attended, that my heart aches with pride, joy, and sadness.
Funny how all emotions swirl inside as we let go and see the newness, the fresh take on love and commitment. Family and friends encased the event with their special devotion to the couple.
I marvel how my children have launched into adulthood, become independent, and forged their own path. As I write, I’m waiting for the funny line to wow you, where I’ll make you laugh. But as I cast my thoughts back into memories, see the lines of growth, I’m struck by the power of love.
I write of memories, a selection of mental images, stories told, that have stuck. When I was growing up, my mother and father told us about their first date. I don’t recollect clearly why my mother was upset on the date, perhaps something spilled on her dress. My father asked her is she’d like a Good Humor, as the ice cream truck’s bell rang in the distance. She answered with an incredulous look, “How can I be in a good humor if my dress is ruined.” The miscommunication turned itself around to laughter. I believe my mom ordered a “nutty buddy” ice cream cone and their love for each other was sealed with humor.
During my daughter’s wedding ceremony, the pastor read the vows first to the groom and then to the bride. Elly, in her enthusiasm and joy couldn’t remember the lines to repeat. Her indomitable spirit prevailed and she simply stated, “I say yes to everything.” We listened and applauded her, knowing that she sees life with joyful innocence and takes the route of truth, over formality.
Since my teenage years I’ve contemplated the balance of independence and dependence. At seventeen, I left the fold, going to college, and then to Puerto Rico, where my independence met its match of adventure and the cultural significance of family. It is here that I began to understand the difference between independence and dependence. I was on my own, making my way financially and was responsible for all my decisions, right or wrong. I learned to bend my stubborn streak, as a new culture dictated customs, that I chose to follow. Not out of obedience but realizing that my way, wasn’t the only way. That a woman had an internal power.
I already stuck out as a gringa. I had to earn respect by how I treated men. My small bookstore, with model airplanes and radio control planes put me in a different league. I passed many a weekend on the airfield, flying planes, to learn part names. I worked together with the hobbyist to order. It was the very same men who used to taunt me, who came to my rescue, when a “flim-flam” con-artist scammed me of hundreds of dollars of radio control product. Word got out across the island. I lost the money but gained the friendships.
We forged an interdependence, an alliance where we each earned the respect of the other. I didn’t change the culture, the culture changed me. I realized that it was more important to develop a relationship, to find common ground, that to be independent.
I look at my granddaughters, who move from one family member to the next. They find the best in each person and make them feel special. At five and two years of age, they go boating, clamming, dancing, and love dressing up at weddings. They are stubborn in their ways, but always respectful. They still depend on others for basic needs and have already forged the bridge of interdependence.
Family and friends extend their reach to make occasions rich. I’m thrilled to see the groups of people of different backgrounds and lifestyles that pepper my daughter and son in-law’s life. I know her high-school friends, her college buddies, and now I’ve met her colleagues, her husband’s “cross-fit” network of support. Elly gains new friends through commitment, accountability, and silliness. She is her own person, willing to share.
I believe that life is a teeter-totter. As we grow into adulthood, we move from dependency to independence bridged with interdependence. The bridge combines the laughter, the misunderstanding, the effort to love. The balance is where my heart rests. Sometimes the process aches with joy.
This month as we celebrate the Fourth of July, Independence Day, for our country. I hope for that bridge of understanding mixed with some humor.
The Magic of Words
Thanks to Wordsmith.org and A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg, I have received for the last twelve years in my in-box a “word” with pronunciation, meaning, etymology, and usage. I must confess that the words eek into my brain and sometimes into my stories. Here are two words that struck me as noteworthy:
MEANING: verb.: To pledge, pawn, or mortgage.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin impignorare/impignerare (to pledge), from pignus (pledge, pawn, mortgage). Earliest documented use: 1639.
PRONUNCIATION: (CATS pu-JAH-muhz)
MEANING: Noun: Something or someone truly excellent
ETYMOLOGY: From cat + pajamas, from Hindi/Urdu pajama or payjama (loose-fitting trousers), from Persian pay (leg) + jama (garment). Earliest documented use: 1923.
NOTES: In the 1920s, in the US it was fashionable to coin terms on the pattern of x’s y (where x is an animal) to describe something cool or awesome. Some synonyms of today’s term are bee’s knees, dog’s bollocks, cat’s meow, and cat’s whiskers.
The bride’s smile was infectious, as if she wore the cat’s pajamas down the aisle. The entire wedding party impignorated to their spouses and partners to carry a dose of their joy into their relationships.