The Queen Mum speaks

“Your work is the rent you pay for the room you occupy on earth.”
Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, before all, to make you see.”
― Joseph Conrad

IMG_0668

Oh, you were expecting someone else weren’t you?

queen_mother23_1480343i

Hoping you’re not too terribly disappointed in the selection of queens, I did however, want to share with you the words spoken from this particular queen mother—words which were used to pay homage to the transition of her son, the heir apparent, as well as welcoming words to the addition of his bride into our lives . . .

Obviously this version, the written version, is sans the emotion. The tears, the raw moments which where marked by a mother who would find herself choking up when she had otherwise been the proverbial rock. There is also something very moving, as well as overwhelming, when you find yourself standing before a gathered group of nearly one hundred folks—family friends, who have journeyed near and far in order to be with your family for a celebration.
A very humbling moment indeed.

This is a copy of the “toast” I offered on behalf of Brenton’s dad, Gregory (he just gets too emotional at such moments–remember, I am the rock), and myself as we brought our magical evening to a close. I think I echo the words of most parents out there who find themselves in the position of offering their child, who has suddenly grown up, to another person and family–while, in turn, welcoming another individual and family into their family.
It’s all a matter of transition. . .

And as this special day of ours fell on the 70th anniversary of D Day—-I took the opportunity, before beginning my little “talk”, by offering a brief history lesson—which was geared especially to all the young people gathered in, of all places, a restaurant named Churchill’s in a banquet room known as Number Ten Downing, who I think all need a good dose of reminding of such a monumentally perilous and heroic moment in the history of the free world. . .leave it to the teacher in me. . .

As most of you who know me, know that I express myself best through the written word, tonight shall prove no differently.

Again, Gregory and I would like to thank each of you for making the journey here to Savannah this weekend. We would also like to thank you for making this journey with us a parents—Each and every one of you has had a hand in helping to raise these two very precious individuals who are seated here in this room this evening. Had it not been for all of you and of the role you’ve played in the lives of both Brenton and Abby, this joyous weekend, possibly, may not have ever taken place.

As a teacher, I was always keenly aware of the importance of the role I had in helping to raise children other than my own. It was a role I took very seriously for over 30 years of my life. It is for that very reason that Gregory and I are both so truly grateful to all of you here with us this evening.

I am also keenly aware of those individuals who had a hand, either directly or indirectly, in and with the lives of Brenton and Abby— who are no longer physically with us —in particular Abby’s dad Chris, as well as for my mom Mary Ann and my Uncle Paul.

I don’t know if this was true for any you parents or not, but I believe that when we, as new parents, first hold our freshly delivered baby in our arms, we immediately begin planning.
Planning an illustrious future.
We immediately begin planning when our child will walk.
We plan what sports he or she will play.
We plan their academic success, we plan what college they’ll attend and chances are, we plan their career choice…

We also, no doubt, immediately begin planning, or at least imagining, their wedding.
Who will they meet?
Who will they fall in love with?
Will they have to endure broken hearts?
Will they be happy?

Life and parenthood is truly all about planning.
Planning for ourselves as well as planning for our children.

But as any parent in this room will testify—all that planning can just be thrown out the window because no child will ever live according to the plans or the schedules of any well-intentioned or well-organized parent.

Yet nevertheless, plan I did.

I cannot speak to the parents who have raised multiple children, as Brenton is our only child.
And it should be noted that there is a lot of pressure on only children. They fortunately or unfortunately receive all, and I mean all, of their parent’s love, attention, and planning.

Follow all of that with telling folks your mom’s a teacher and you may multiply that planning and attention by at least a million.

From the time Brenton was born, it was happily always the three of us. We went everywhere and did everything together as a family. The first time Gregory and I ever went away on a weekend trip together, Brenton was a junior high school. I won’t talk about the destroyed freezer, the burn marks on the patio, or the exceeded limit to the “guests” at the house that weekend but just know that the three of us were pretty much a team for most of Brenton’s life.

And in the back of my mind, I always imagined who would one day come into our lives to make our team of 3 a complete team of 4.

So not only was I always planning and imagining, I was always praying.
Praying that God would bring the right girl, one day, into Brenton’s life.

I think He’s certainly answered that prayer.

Not being one who can speak to quick proposals, as my mother would have been the first to tell you, I couldn’t say a word when after only a brief courtship, Brenton told his dad and I that he had found “the one” and wanted to propose to Abby.

The flip side to a quick proposal has been the length of the engagement. Of which I think their friends have begun teasing them, but of which I have found to be a blessing as they have had ample time in the sorting out process.

I like to think that if they’ve made it this far– through the trials of growing together as a couple, having shared joint custody of their beloved Alice, their very sweet black lab, as well as having struggled with schooling, job searches, finding a new home and discovering who they are as both individuals as well as a couple,
then maybe, they are indeed ready for a life as two verses life as one.

We have been truly blessed welcoming Abby to our team of three, as she completes the missing piece of the puzzle, making our family a complete team of four.
The daughter we do not have.

I would like to conclude with a reading taken from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the young German pastor who lost his life at the Flossenbürg Death Camp in 1945. This excerpt is taken from his Letters and Papers from Prison

Marriage for God
“Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom. 15:7)
In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive.
Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as your are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.
From the first day of your wedding till the last the rule must be: “Welcome one another. . .for the glory of God.”
That is God’s word for your marriage. Thank God for it; thank God for leading you thus far; ask God to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it. So your marriage will be “for the praise of God’s glory”

AMEN.

To Brenton and Abby

snapshots of time as we kept calm and carried on

But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day.
Benjamin Disraeli

RSCN5582

Here are just a few images from the big event of the weekend that I’d like to share. There was a professional photographer but these are pictures that either I took or are the images captured by family and friends. There are sweet moments, as well as moments of humor—yet some of the more humorous moments were unfortunately not captured on film.

You know the type of moments. . . those spontaneous life events which make for the stuff of family legends–the ones that often grow exponentially with the passage of time—those stories that can only happen when a group, such as the one we witnessed, gathers together—-such as:

those who rallied together at a local pub for the viewing of the Belmont race. When one’s aunt ventures up to strangers hoping to “get in on a piece of the action” by offering cash to an infamous looking bucket. . .
—or the near fiery incident of the lit cigarette a cousin dropped down into the unreachable black hole between the seat and console of her mother’s very nice and very expensive luxury car–with the only imagined option of recourse for extinguishing the near disaster. . . douse it by pouring a diet coke down between the seats.
—Or of the 88 year old aunt who unfortunately discovered, during the midsts of the Rehearsal Dinner, that her earlier consumption of dirty martinis and fried oysters simply do not mix–sending her in a quick search of a terrace bush as she was ushered back to her hotel room by her resigned children.
—or of the hired rickshaw driver who peddled Dad and my step mom the 4 blocks to the Dinner.. .

So many stories, all of which now make for the stuff of legends with a family clan.
As so many different people gather together, both young and old, with a single purpose in mind, which in our case was the celebration of the uniting of two young people, memories are immediately formed— which begin the building of a new legacy for a newly formed couple who are now beginning the stories of their own new “lifetime” together. . .

There was the Rehearsal Dinner, with 70 friends and family members ready to celebrate in true Anglican fashion. . .
DSCN5081

DSCN5298

DSCN5319

Then, there was the big day! 120 dearly beloved individuals gathered in a beautiful southern setting stepped in history and charm.

The story of our journey, as with any family, is long and convoluted. Our small family of three has come a very long way in order to have gotten to this particular day. After Brenton was born, we did everything together as a family—taking him with us everywhere. As his dad was often gone long hours due to work, and with us having lived in the middle of nowhere for much of his childhood, with long rides spent in the car traveling to school, church, shopping, etc—a tight bond was truly formed.

However on this particular Saturday in June, a close knit team of 3, was soon to become a newly formed team of 4. . .

IMG_0657

. . .As a beautiful girl awaited her special moment. . .

IMG_0658

A mother and father make the joyous journey down an oak lined aisle
(and may I just say that humidity and soft water do not make for “good hair”!!! Oh it “works” and looks fine here back home, but nooooo, not in hot and humid Savannah. It simply wore as a disaster on one’s head!)

DSCN5392

A jubilant couple turns to take the retreat back up the aisle as a newly united force. . .

DSCN5424

And of course there were my peeps (aka cousins, dad, step-mom and aunt)

IMG_0653

and then there was my partner in crime –aka aunt Martha–the one sans the kidney—remember that crisis??

DSCN5358

Newlyweds drive off in a carriage—of course they do— who doesn’t want to drive off into the sunset in a horse drawn carriage in one of the most historic and picturesque cities in this country?! By this point in the day, I had to have a pedicab fetch me, once it was all said and done–Do you have any idea what heels do to feet that have grown accustomed to going either bare foot or merely adorned with Chacos? Not a pretty site. And lets not talk about the pedicab ripping the back end of my very nice dress shall we—ugh

DSCN5465

And when all was finally said and done—all that remained was me, the Prime Minister (aka Winston), and a Chair—more on the chair later, and the bill of a lifetime. . .

IMG_0644

Oh, and now there is a week spent with “The Mouse”

IMG_0662