Three and a half years ago, on September 20th, 2010 at age 94 my grandmother passed away.
She contributed to a very specific part of my development providing me piano lessons and treats/baked goods a-plenty for most of my life. I remember Christmas carols at Christmas, making homemade doughnuts with her, and playing with marbles that she kept by the kitchen. My memories of her are all positive: She was clever, witty, and warm.
When Mom & Dad D dropped off a few items at the new home last week, they also passed me an envelope that my family had found in some of my grandmother’s items. It had my name on the front. At first I didn’t recognize it for what it was, Time had colored the envelope, it’s edges worn. I opened it to find a letter my grandmother had signed for me but never sent – a belated birthday card.
It’s nothing our of the ordinary. It doesn’t have any special message or touching story. Just a belated birthday card with a technology joke to me from an older generation. But perhaps it is its commonality that makes it so powerful. It is a matter of fact letter signed and sealed with care by someone who loved me.
For me, opening that letter was a very brief visit to Grandma’s. Complete with a piano lesson and homemade doughnuts.
This past weekend Jen and I took the Parents D to see a play at the Bushnell in Hartford. It was Mom D’s birthday a few weeks back and what’s better than a theatrical production? Nothing! The choice? War Horse – complete with puppets and horses!
Gad zooks that play is dark.
I was completely unprepared for the carnage and emotionally draining plot. Sure, with the word War in the title I was expecting some level of seriousness – but there was death and destruction beyond my greatest expectations!
The production was amazing, use of sound and light were stunning, and of course the Horse puppets were awe inspiring. The puppeteers weren’t really hidden at all, but it eventually got the point where we no longer noticed them. In fact, the first half of the play was a bit slower than I would have liked… but you know… character development and stuff.
Overall, I’d give War Horse 4 stars. And despite the perhaps less than lively juxtaposition with my Mom’s birthday, it was an amazing experience. Unfortunately, the show is no longer available in Hartford – but I’d certainly recommend you go to check it out if it comes to your area.
Truly an epic day of celebration. A big thanks to all those who participated in person and supported us from afar. So far marriage has been wonderful. We’re looking forward to many years of adventure.
At 2:30pm, with Jen tucked away in a preparation room, the guests began to arrive. We had about 50 people total, and as they arrived I greeted them, gracious but nervous about the upcoming event.
Alicia began playing her flute around 2:30. Shortly thereafter, mugs of apple cider in hand, family began to take their seats by the Pergola.
And right at about 3pm, Steve, Michelle (our officiant), and I headed to the Pergola to await the bride.
Also, how epic is this Pergola?
Noah, our faithful MC/music guy, started up the processional: Air on a G String – J.S.Bach
My folks walked down the aisle first, followed by Jen’s mom and brother, Kelly (the maid of honor – heretoafter “MoH”), and finally Jen escorted by her Dad.
The Ceremony was fast and furious. It started with a brief story by Michelle where she described her and Noah’s frequent attempts to get us hitched. Then, a first reading by my sister T ‘The Art of Marriage’ by Wilferd Arlan Peterson
The Art of Marriage
The little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. ?It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. ?It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal. ?
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
Our second reading was read by Jen’s sister Kati: Celebration by Carl Thitchener
We celebrate the love that brought you to this day.
With love that deepens through many years, may you know its meaning and its mystery – how we become truly one in sharing ourselves with one another, and yet, remain truly two in our own uniqueness.
May your house be a place of happiness for all who enter it, a place where the old and the young are renewed in each other’s company, a place for growing, a place for music, a place for laughter.
And may those who are nearest to you and dearest to you constantly be enriched by the beauty and the energy of your love for each other.
Next, we read our vows:
[insert name] I take you to be my (wife/husband), my best friend, and my future. Whatever lies ahead, good or bad, we will face it together. Today I take my place as your (husband/wife). Please accept this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness.
THEN, Michelle made it real and it was the kiss the bride part.
Jen and I stumbled across The Wadsworth Mansion during one of our frequent Connecticut exploration adventures. She and I got our hands on an insider’s guide to CT, and the Wadsworth Mansion (and the accompanying falls) were on the list.
(That’s totally their professional promotional photo.)
The Mansion was built in the early 1900′s, designed by Francis Hoppin. It was built in much of the same style as some of the Newport Mansions with a greater focus on the landscape. Trees were planted in mass to visually support the structure and its surroundings. This was extra awesome for our event what with the trees in full regalia.
The Wadsworth family owned and operated the estate until Colonel Clarance Wadsworth died in 1942. After this point the estate changed hands from the state, to a catholic institute, to a private developer. After a fire in 1990 the property was stagnant for a bit, but finally landed in the hands of the town of Middletown in 1994 where it was renovated for a grand opening in December of 1999.
Inside the mansion there are two ballrooms and a dance area as prime people places, with a bar off the kitchen and a beautiful terrace off the back framed in Hydrangeas. Upstairs? Some rando accounting or insurance firm. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to work here daily?
We decided to use one ballroom as a dining room with the other as a reserve for the ceremony in case of rain with the center area as a dancing spot.
The inside was decorated all fall-y with pumpkins at the bar, fall colored flowers everywhere, and red napkins.
The organizers were very friendly and pleasant to work with. Setup went smoothly and we really didn’t have any major disruptions to the plan. I’m pleased with our venue choice.