Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Amazing Grace

I had the sense as we entered the last week before 'the wedding' that it was a lot like labour. If you are pregnant, you know that it is inevitably coming and once it starts, you know that there is nothing to do but be completely consumed by the process until it is over. For me, it really was like a birth. Only done much better than the first time. The first time I was very alone. Sure her dad was there and my parents were even just outside the door. But I hadn't been allowed to eat for 2 days before the birth because they were inducing me and soon after the birth everyone cleared out, the hospital kitchen was closed and Norm refused to go and get me food. I have never been so hungry. After that no one visited me and Norm didn't even want to give me a ride home. I was back to work in our business just 3 days after she was born. He made it clear that she was 'my thing'. It was lonely My mother had twins 6 months before. Katie came to help me once a week but other than that I was on my own.

Not so this time. Layne, who has been helping with the preparations since he arrived in January (including shovelling out the chicken coop and other stinky jobs) was here all day on the Sunday before with Zach helping to get ready. Then, Katie and Brent arrived that day, the 12, just after he left and set to work. They worked all day everyday getting things ready - cleaning kitchen drawers and windows and stripping and waxing the floors. Planting blueberry bushes, black currants, cucumbers and cantaloupe and weeding my garden. Helping me finish the shopping - especially forcing me to get the bra I needed. And shirts. We bought 3 shirts for Dean before it was approved.... The week whizzed by. I sewed flower girl dresses. Katie felt guilty if she wasn't working. We swept and washed and shopped and delivered food.

My friend Bozenka baked and cooked for the dinner until she couldn't stand on her arthritic ankles any more. She gave me all the best that she has working in an inferior kitchen and dealing with delays, shortages, and inexperienced help. The food was a masterpiece. Her sister, Goranka, along with her husband, Thomas and son, Daniel even travelled all the way from Calgary to help making this most amazing wedding dinner. They did so much for me and my daughter! I am truly fortunate to have them as my friends. Bozenka's help extended even to the slaughtering, plucking, gutting and cutting up of the meat birds who became the chicken portion of the dinner.

Bozenka's daughter, Jelena, (an amazing film maker) travelled on the greyhound to film the whole proceedings - she started with the wedding preparations and then the bridal party and then on to the wedding and the reception. I can't wait to see it! It will be so nice to watch it when I am relaxed! And of course when she wasn't filming, she was helping in the kitchen, running errands and making sure everything was as perfect as possible.

Laura arrived with camera gear and new lenses in hand to be the photographer. She was there, making a record of everything and when she didn't have a camera in front of her face and she wasn't making camera plans, she did whatever needed to be done.

Layne and Zach were there to help along with Avereigh who arrived with John. That group of strong boys (Drew, Ave, Zach, Douglas and Josh) could be seen doing heavy lifting and assembling as tables and chairs and tarps were erected. They did anything I asked them to - carry flower pots in from the garden, hang up hanging pots. They were awesome!

People showed up to weed, to deliver little white Christmas lights, to drop off food and baskets of flowers. Even Andrew's girlfriend, Chelle, arrived on the bus Wednesday night and worked her butt off doing whatever was needed for the wedding. I love that girl!

My brother Doug arrived on Thursday afternoon. The tarps that had collapsed the night before (like I told them they would if it actually rained...) were fixed by the tarp meister Brent and Doug and his boys. They were everywhere, doing everything. A whirl of activity I didn't have to direct. Mostly I shopped and sewed.

John, Brenna and Alysha drove all night, stopped off at Becky's and then arrived here on Friday morning. Without even a nap (except for Alysha) they went right to work in the kitchen. And they worked and they worked and they worked. John picked up all the dishes and delivered them.

Auntie Heather and Uncle Dennis - the only representatives of their generation from the bride's side of the family - arrived on Friday afternoon - twinkly lights and iced brownies in hand and immediately chipped in. Even up to the time the ceremony was about to begin, there was Uncle Dennis, pruning lilac bushes. Without me having to say much, they were just in there. Auntie Heather covering tables with table clothes. Funny, did she realized she used the one that Grandma B gave me for a wedding present? Somehow I just felt better with them there. They set up camp at the back of my driveway so they were right on site Saturday morning.

Friday evening Ronni arrived from Calgary on the plane. Picked up by Katie (I was sewing) and immediately set to work buying last minute things, working in the kitchen, making sure people got fed. And in general keeping me organized.

Friday night my sister says to me, "tomorrow, you be the mother of the bride (and the flower girl seamstress) and I'll be the wedding planner" and with that she took over. She took care of every detail. She made things happen and I can't even write about it without tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt so loved and so supported and I am so grateful there are no words. (and I have to blow my nose, now) Oh, and did I mention that she did all this with a box of kleenex attached to her hip while popping allergy pills because of my 3 cats?

Bethany arrived and put finishing touches on the decorating - beautified my bathroom and helped arranged the tables outside.

Saturday morning (I was sewing) even Becky came to help in the kitchen. And Katie and Ronni worked and worked and worked.

Brent hoisted Eclipse who in the end, weighed more than the 80 lbs the rotisserie was intended for, onto the BBQ and began what he had been preparing for a year to do. With his best foodie instincts, he BBQ'ed the lamb to perfection. He could hardly sleep the two nights coming up to it, worrying about how it would work out. It was amazing. It was the best lamb I have ever eaten.

Katie did my hair while I was sewing. I finished sewing at 12:30 - in time to have a bath to shave my legs, and get dressed. Delanie did my make up. And then the impatient marriage commissioner was there, standing in the middle of the patio.

Ronni was running the last errands - which included buying Andrew shoes. It was Andrew holding up the wedding as he tore off his clothes and got his wedding clothes on. Then the music was playing (All is Love by Bjork) and Dean and Andrew were walking her down our porch stairs.

The wedding commissioner was terrible. In addition to being impatient, she got their names wrong at crucial moments. She called Eryn "Rachel Eryn Kleyh" and Tyler, Taylor.... although it was great fodder for jokes for the rest of the evening... c'mon. If you were a marriage commissioner, wouldn't you practise saying the names?

Then there was the ribbon ceremony. I read a poem by Maya Angelou that Ronni had looked up and written out for me the night before. And we all tied ribbons around their joined hands. (wedding party and family) I was last. Did I say something profound? No. I told them that I could hardly concentrate on the ceremony because I was so distracted by the imperfections in the patio bricks...haha. We all laughed. (but not so long ago, they were no laughing matter...)

Katie and Ronni helped prepare the food. They helped serve the food. Ronni didn't even get a chance to do her hair or make up for the wedding. I just want you all to know that really she usually looks very classy and well put together. I have always envied her sense of style. John, Alysha, Brenna and Christian took orders and delivered food. Kaetlyn and Nadia, after helping in the kitchen, also helped dish up the food.

My friend, Louise, arrived on Saturday morning and didn't leave until midnight. She helped make the food, dish the food, clean up after the food.

I wavered between feeling guilty that everyone was working so hard and being overwhelmed with gratitude, buoyed up on the love of my siblings and my friends. And then the dinner was over, the speeches were said (I didn't make notes; I forgot half of what I wanted to say) and the music started. The white twinkly lights were softly glowing and the music was fun. The dance floor was full of my nieces and nephews and my brothers. And then I was able to be right there in that moment. Dancing near my brother Jordan and his wife, Tracy, holding hands with Maria on one side and Mary on the other. Soon there was a little circle of nieces and it was perfect. It was absolutely perfect. I was in the middle of all my joy, buoyed up and supported by the love of my family. I felt it in that moment - so pure, so wholehearted, so selfless.

Eventually the music changed and I went back inside where nieces and nephews were falling asleep watching Harry Potter, and we cleaned up the kitchen and started putting the rented dishes back in their boxes. It all wrapped up around 1am. I drove Eryn and Tyler in their car to the room at the Illahee Inn that Laurel booked for them. Katie followed and drove me back home. Then we started bringing in the platters of food and finding ways of fitting it in the fridge. By 3:30 we were sitting in the kitchen, too tired to go to bed until Brent came downstairs and got us on our way.

And that was the wedding. Such an incredibly intense experience. There is still the glow of love around here left over from the 7 of my 11 siblings who were here and my Aunt and Uncle who travelled so far to be here and my friends Ronni and Bozenka, who would do anything for me. Because they love me. And and Goranka, Thomas and Daniel and Jelena and Louise who did so much for the love of me and Bozenka and my daughter. And I am so grateful to have experienced that so fully and completely. Will Eryn ever really know what was done for her?


Beth-a-knee said...

the wedding turned out so beautifully. you were a whirlwind. I wish I could have helped more--I can't even take credit for the little bit you mentioned (I never touched any outside tables). But I was glad to be a small part of it nevertheless.

katie said...

Aww Andrea, I had no idea how isolated you were by Norm at that time. I wish I could have been there more for you.
I'm glad you felt loved and buoyed up. You have amazing friends who told me they were lucky to have you as a friend and I'm glad that I got to be there and be a part of supporting you and Eryn. It was fun. You make me sound like such a hero:) I didn't actually do that much for the wedding. In fact,leading up to the last couple of days, I felt like I was fulfilling the mudsy role. But at least hopefully you can bask in my efforts for the rest of the summer. Give the floor a good mopping for mudsy and me.

Andrea said...

Don't you DARE minimize what you did! I couldn't have done it without you. EVERYTHING you did was for the wedding - even if Bozenka didn't end up using our kitchen very much and no one, in the end, knew how clean the drawers were... You are my hero!

Sarah-Lynn said...

Wow I had no idea about Norm either!! It makes me angry that he wouldn't let you eat...

Sounds like an amazing experience Andrea! I so glad that the family pulled through for you. Katie- you really are a hero in those sorts of situations, I don't know how you don't see it!! I think that's sort of how parenting goes, right from pregnancy and giving birth- your child never really knows what was done/sacrificed for them... not until they go through it themselves.

I can't WAIT to see more pictures!!! I'm dying here.

Dad said...

That was an awesome blog Andrea. I am sad I will never be on your blog for helping out along with the many loved ones who were there. The feelings expressed about family are eternal and I am so glad that you had this experience that confirms the love we all have for you.D&C 130:2.Mom and I knew that we were missing something wonderful. Love, Dad.

Laura said...

it really was intense like you say. i haven't been able to explain it to anyone. and when i left it was also with the special family love feeling. it was a wonderful time. really special and i'm glad i could be a part. photographically alone, it helped me grow in a way i haven't for a long time. love you! (and katie you are a hero, you dolt)

Evan said...

I'm so sad I missed it! I was stuck here in Wainwright...

Andrea said...

I'm sad you missed it, too. But 7/11 isn't bad. I mean most people don't even have 7 siblings... Interesting that the 4 who missed are in chronological order starting with Martha with Bean being the lone exception.