The two of you who read my column last week, Till Unmasking Do Us Part, know where I was Memorial Day weekend. For the multitude who did not (and probably aren’t reading this, anyway…in which case, how would you know and what’s the point?), I was in Blacksburg, Virginia. No, I wasn’t drinking beer and roasting weenies (especially my own) in celebration of the unofficial beginning of summer.
Okay, I was drinking beer. More than my share, but that’s neither here nor there.
No, I was at the home of Virginia Tech (NOTE: unpaid plug for the Hokies) to witness the marriage of my second child to a woman who hasn’t yet come to grips with what kind of family she married into.
Anyway, as the COVID pandemic begins to loosen its grip (along with the ludicrous face diaper mandates), it was a return to the type of celebration that we had all grown used to. Sure, there was no dancing or type of rituals you’d normally associate with a wedding reception (e.g., throwing of the bouquet and garter), but it didn’t matter. Everyone had a great time regardless, lack of a chicken dance notwithstanding.
Two more family weddings will follow at the ends of June and August. And, even though they will be held in the asylums of New York and Washington, a good time will no doubt be had by all. Especially me. Both my son and daughter are married, don’tcha know. I can go to these weddings as a guest and not have to be one of the role players of the event. Not that being father of the bride and father of the groom were onerous tasks, mind you. It’s just that I had to maintain some some semblance of dignity and gravitas, is all.
The fact that I won’t be able to stay up all night partying is actually a plus. The earlier to bed you get, the less partying you do, the better any hangover.
Before I continue on with my point (trust me, there will be one. I think), I must mention my daughter’s nuptials last September. Thumped by restrictions wrought by the pandemic, her wedding at an oceanfront hotel in Virginia Beach had to be cancelled. Instead of a planned grand affair (and grand it would have been), she and her husband said their vows on the actual beach, accompanied by direct family only.
A lovely event, to be sure. Even though it didn’t come close to being the type of celebration she had planned, I’ve no doubt that in years to come she’ll look back on it with fondness. I know her mother and I will. After all, she wed the man she loves and that’s really all that should matter. Not watching her father mangle the Hokey Pokey. As funny as that would have been.
So…both of my kids are married. I’m now left with the feeling of “Jeez, where’d did the time go?” I remember ignoring my own parents when they told me that youth is fleeting and that one day I’ll be staring in the mirror, wondering who it is who’s looking back at me. And what’s up with those eye bags?
PFFFTTT! Well, what do the old people know, anyhow? I’m was in my 20s, don’tcha know, acid jeans, moussed hair, and my own bad self.
Well, here we are. The brown hair has turned white, the smooth face has become a road map of wrinkles, and, to tell you the truth, those are eye “suitcases,’ rather than ‘bags.’
Mind you, there are other signposts to “late middle age” (I refuse to go gently into that good night of senior citizenry and call it that, AMAC membership notwithstanding), but that’s none of your business. Let’s put it this way, fiber has become my friend, my knees make more noise than a mariachi band, and I generally need a nap after a good fart.
I remember the terrors of potty training, keeping britches on my daughter, and kindergarten. Luckily, kindergarten cured that “britches” thing.
Likewise, the “talk,” first dates, and driving lessons.
NOTE: We pause now for this brief story. At nine o’clock on the night my daughter got her drivers license, she asked me to drive her to the store. I started to reach for my car keys, hesitated, and said, “Yeah, I’m going to bed. There’s the keys.”
I also chuckle when I recall how worried my son was when he fretted he would only be as tall as I.
High school graduations gave way to college graduations which gave way to first jobs and first houses.
I watched with great pride as, along the way, they became adults in their own right. My heart would swell, if proper cardiac care wasn’t such a concern nowadays. If the purpose of life is to give the world something of yourself, someone better than you, well, mission accomplished.
Although, it wasn’t until I watched our son walk down the aisle that I realized that his mom and I were now the older versions of the flashiest models in the showroom. Much like Tevye in Fiddler On the Roof , I’m left thinking “Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play?”
Yes, yes, I know quoting lyrics from an old movie is exactly the type of thing you’d expect from a …ahem…older gentleman. Shut up.
Okay, sure, I realize this sounds like a pity party for the young man I once was. You know, that’s not it at all. It’s all good because, on the contrary, this is a joyful celebration that my little girl and my little boy have found love. An added bonus? While certainly not a requirement, they’ve found it with two remarkable people. I eagerly look forward to the journeys they will experience as they make their own way through the wonders of lives together.
I’ve had my turn. Let’s see what they can do. I bet they do better.
Sure, one day, they’ll find themselves in the same spot as I (while people speak of me in the past tense). They may have kids of their own, they may not. In any case, however, I hope with all my heart that they will, as do I, look back fondly on lives well-spent.
After all, that is the way of things.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ready to check out just yet. I still have lots I want to do.
For instance, I wanna do something about these eye suitcase things.