I’ve become really good at ordering from the Bed, Bath, and Beyond wedding registry. Some people don’t like registries because they think it’s greedy and tacky to suggest what gifts someone else should give. But I appreciate knowing that what I give will actually be something the couple wants and needs. If I can give something that makes their house more homey, I want to do that.
Paul and I have been to 2 outdoor weddings with outdoor receptions over the last 3 weeks. We don’t get invited to every wedding, and that’s ok. We send our best wishes. But lately we’ve been welcomed and shown hospitality beyond measure, and it’s an understatement to say that we’ve been well-fed. Barbecue to low country shrimp. We drove 11 hours to Florida and back, then 5 hours to South Carolina and back. Both states are hot this time of year and full of flying, biting and stinging bugs. And it’s an understatement to say that those bugs have been well-fed off of us.
Our girls joined us for the Florida wedding, but they stayed home for the SC one. But even without the girls with us, they are still with us. Case in point, after swatting mosquitoes all evening, I felt something slimy near my ankle. I looked down and it was a frog. I grabbed for it but it jumped. Y’all I crawled on the floor past people eating their dinners, reaching around chair legs trying to be Oh Emily’s hero for bringing home a SC frog souvenir. And just like Emily hiding a schoolyard frog in her book bag after recess, I would have hidden that frog inside my pocketbook. But when I felt a piece of a shrimp peel cutting into my knee as I crawled on the floor, and I looked up at a stranger making a face at me, I realized one glass of red wasn’t enough to pursue Kermit any farther, and My Enchanting will have to find her own frog.
And both weddings parties were framed perfectly under huge, grand trees. Couldn’t have been more picture-perfect. These were climbing trees, with strong branches. The kind Lauren would have climbed before she was a Middle Schooler. But now she’s too grown for such things, because she can’t flip her hair and snap a selfie while reaching for the next branch. But in my mind I imagined My Lovely up there still in her long, baggy shorts and oversized t-shirts from years ago.
And I wondered what parts of this wedding dress or that one would Grace take for her own. Her dress won’t be traditional. I think we all know that. But the fit and flare sillouete or the corset bodice with some lace and tulle here and there…maybe. Grace will be showing some tats and piercings at her wedding. And I wonder about how she will wear her hair. Her hair. Will it be her own or will she rock a wig? Honestly if anyone could rock bald in a wedding dress, it would be My Gorgeous. But her hair is growing now and it’s probably longer than mine. But as it’s grown in, it’s so curly that it looks really short. I had drinks with a friend the other night and mentioned that I haven’t paid for a haircut for Grace since 9th grade. She’s a college freshman. I bought shampoo for her dorm and that was maybe the first shampoo I’ve paid for since 9th grade. I look forward to Grace’s friends from the School of the Arts being her hair glam-squad at her wedding someday.
Then there’s Paul. As I listened to the fathers of the brides give speeches and dance with their daughters, I wondered how Paul will someday handle that. Times three. He’s a talker; he’s been told he has “sooo many words.” But he gets quiet thinking about his girls. He’s a dad who has seen too much from his girls. Paralyzing anxiety, epilepsy, suicide attempt, mental illness, secrets, silence. I’m not sure how he will hold it all together when he has to speak. There are a million stories he can tell to get a laugh, and he will tell those stories. But when he turns to the topic of being the daddy of these girls and sentimentality takes over, y’all he’s gonna lose it. You’ve been warned. And for me, I’ll need more than one glass of red.
One reception was in a barn. The other under a tent. Both were perfectly chosen for these couples. Both receptions were bursting with love and happiness, and the parties spilled out onto the grass under the stars. I’m voting for air conditioning at the Mauk girls’ weddings, or at least a bug-repellant station. But knowing my girls, I’m sure I can count on frogs and hair flipping and maybe a tattoo station.
Driving home from SC right now, thankful for those who helped take care of Lauren and Emily, and thankful for Grace who can take care of herself. But realizing that traveling with or without them, they are the richest parts of our lives, and we are blessed to have them. And we are blessed to share our best wishes with young couples starting their journeys together.