Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear Lorraine,

Its almost Halloween, and I'm reminded how you used to escort me around our neck of Magnolia Bluff to gather treats. Usually we wore white sheets with holes cut for eyes. I thought that was grand, and you never complained, though it had to have been a drag, my being four and a half years younger. 28th Ave was where the richest folk lived, giving out the best candy and caramelized apples.

So now I'm asking you to stir your ashes and offer some advice. Your granddaughter, Darcie, now 28, living in Portland Maine, wrote yesterday via email, (something not in your scope of experience) asking for help in planning her wedding. “My mother is not a reliable source of information in this area,” she intoned, “and I want it to be GOOD, since I‘m assuming it will be the only one….”

Its easy for me to remember how very very much you loved Darcie, and wanted to live long enough to see her grown and married. Sadly, leukemia had a mind of its own. I doubt that she was old enough to remember the extent of your devotion and caring.

Now the curious thing is Darcie never called, emailed, or snail mailed me to say that she was enraptured with this ex of hers, and had been keeping it a secret that she was about to be engaged. He’s a problematical choice in my book, but then I only know him through her past disillusionments with him. I learned of the secret tryst on a hunch, by checking on Facebook, which is, as far as I’m concerned, another insanity created by the digital media.

You’d be amazed to see Darcie today, of course. The photo above shows her sitting with me at my 80th birthday celebration in August. Not the tiny preemie you visited every day after work in the hospital, rocking her in your arms begging her to live, even after she lost one kidney.. Not the quiet, sweet, self possessed little girl she was when you died. Nor the reliable surrogate mother role she assumed for her little brother for so many years. Not even the talented and poised star of her high school musical. Not the beautiful and sometimes naughty gypsy vagabond wandering the country for years with various attractive and unattractive men, searching without success for the deeper psychological identity of home, and who am I?

You were always more romantic than I, Lorraine, so I suppose you’d tell her wear orange and white flowers, your favorite colors, in her lovely hair. And to make it a beautiful day and a beautiful ceremony. Your own two marriages, neither of which included the presence of me, your little sis, were disasters although I imagine your first one to a military officer was full of pomp and circumstance.. In retrospect, I was never invited to attend the weddings of any of your five children or many grandchildren, a sadness to me. Why did they reject me? I could never understand it but it hurt at the time. With a couple of exceptions, most of these joinings did not last, anyway . Our own mother was married so many times I could not keep track of her changing last names. I never attended any of those weddings either, did you? Poor Darcie, she doesn’t spring from a family with a good track record.

So what my heart wants to tell Darcie is this: weddings are not all they are cracked up to be. Costly, and phony often. There are rare exceptions, of course. Until very recently, legal vows were something of heterosexual privilege, not available to me. Anniversaries, on the other hand, are sacred. Five years slips to ten, with luck, and both partners have figured out roles, and who does which chores, and how powers of decision play back and forth. Both partners have learned joy and pain. Soon 25 somersaults to 50, if health allows, and that is rare. Anniversaries stand for loving and giving and sharing, and all that is really growth living. They are to be cherished.

I’ll be sure to remind Darcie that whenever, however, and wherever she decides to exchange rings, you’ll be there in spirit adoring her as always. For me, I’ll stand in the wings and try however briefly to swallow my skepticism. I'll wish her happiness, of course, and mean it.

Your loving little sis,


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