Weeks before I had described my dream wedding to my mother. I was age 28, still in Business School at Harvard with just under two weeks until graduation and my wedding. I stood frozen in place on the phone listening to my mother tell me how disgustingly over-the-top I was being and how she was not going to be any part of my "show of a wedding display" to come. She screamed, "You are trying to be something you are not!" Her words cut deep. I lost my breath and nearly my consciousness. I burst into tears. My body burned with anger and exasperation all at the same time. Why, I asked, was she acting this way and how in God's name can she talk to me like that? She is my mother. I am her daughter.
My mother got married by the Justice of the Peace at age 17. My brother by then was two years old. She always told us she married to escape home. She received her GED and worked all of her life just to survive. She was courageous, strong, proud, and intensely private. I only learned as an adult from my father anything at all about her wedding. Once I asked her if she and my father had exchanged rings/bands and she told me it was none of my business. For what, she asked, did I need to know that for?
It became very difficult for me to want better for my life without being a mirror of "what if" in my mom's life. I wanted so much to make her proud of me, to show her that all her hard work and sacrifice had paid off. I wanted to show her that because of her I was going to have a real chance of making our collective lives better. I wanted to say, "You can rest now momma, I can be of help."
My grandmother married at age 14, the same year she had my mother. Like her daughter she fought her insides to find and maintain periods of happiness. Like each other, they were very guarded in their emotions. They liked it that way. Let people know about you only what you share with them.
From the garden oasis, I over hear the photographer ask for the immediate family of the bride to gather. Only my mother, father, stepmother and I were present. Across the way my husband's noticeably larger family unit was assembling. Then from several feet away and directed precisely at me I hear these piercing words, "Are we done yet?"
END OF PART 2