Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weddings Are New Beginnings

This week marks my seven year wedding anniversary. Together for fifteen, married for seven. Three surgeries, two kids, four cities and two continents later here we are. Sometimes I forget to catch my breath.

Rather than talk about my anniversary this year, I want to share with you a story from the time surrounding my wedding.

We were living in Sweden, and were going to be married in the town where Hubbie was raised. We sent out quite a few invitations to my family and extended family in the States. Partly out of formality, mostly out of tradition. I mean, who is going to fly to Sweden for a wedding?

Twenty-five, it turns out.

A whole slew of my crazy American friends and relatives planned their descent onto an unprepared Scandinavian culture. Young and old, they saw this as an opportunity too good to miss.

My gramma's youngest brother lived with her at the time. I have very good memories of my uncle. He helped my dad haul my shit off to college four years running. He worked on my car. He loved my sister and I something fierce, and I felt the same way.

My uncle was an alcoholic. His children and grandchildren had completely disowned him. None of them ever visited. He would get phone calls on occasion, but was very little contact between him and his family. I do not doubt the complexity and emotion of those damaged relationships, but I know it was hard on him.

When he showed up on my grandmother's doorstep, we all knew he had come to die. He was twenty years younger than his sister, and he looked twenty years older. The liquor was killing him. Somehow, she nursed him back to health, and he became a permanent fixture in all our lives.

Out of love and respect, I sent him his own invitation. He was his own person, and I felt he deserved to be addressed as such. He had no income, no savings to dip into for a plane ticket. Regardless, I wanted him to know that even though we were to be married thousands of miles away on a different continent that we would be thinking about him and that he was loved.

My mom called me one evening sounding uncharacteristically emotional. She told me that my uncle had called the house looking for her. He wouldn't talk to my dad but left a message for my mom to call him after work. He wanted to speak to my mom in person. She returned the call, completely bewildered. Was there something wrong with my gramma?

He hemmed and hawed a bit, obviously embarrassed. He finally got down to it. He asked my mom how to go about applying for a passport.

My great-uncle, who worked in a junkyard, had his first kid at sixteen and had never traveled in his life, wanted to come to my wedding in Sweden.

My mom brought the papers to him. She helped him read the paperwork and fill out the information.

My parents paid for his passport application. My grandmother paid for his plane ticket.

He was there to dance at my wedding.

18 comments:

A Free Man said...

First of all - congratulations.

Second, great story. Great to hear tales of redemption like that!

K-Mom said...

What a beautiful story! This story is a good reminder that sometimes the smallest gesture on our part can mean the world to someone else.

You have a real capacity to see the complexity in human beings...a very rare quality these days. Most of us are neither 100% good or 100% bad, but somewhere in between...and to know that someone out there cares about us despite our failings is very comforting.

Happy Anniversary!!

SSG said...

what a lovely story. Things like this mean a lot.

Bluestreak said...

Beautiful story.

I was married in Spain and Americans came out of the woodwork to come to the wedding.

I completely relate to the joy of seeing someone that has never gone anywhere come to Europe in their old age. My Grandmother did it.

andbabybmakesthree said...

What a wonderful story. Really shows the power of believing in people.

Congrats on your anniversary!

D

RiverPoet said...

NATUI - What a great story! It brought tears to my eyes, and I'm so happy your uncle made it to the wedding.

Speaking as someone who has suffered from the actions of others (addicts and alcoholics), it ruins relationships and makes it so hard to trust. When all your good faith in a person has bled you dry, it's hard not to walk away.

Happy anniversary, and I hope it's a great one! No seven year itch!

Peace - D

Not Afraid to Use It said...

@Free Man: Thanks!

@K-Mom: I really do think he was touched that we wanted him there.

@SSG: After all he did for us, I was happy to show him that he meant a lot to us.

@Bluestreak: That's cool! How did your relatives handle getting around town and relating to Spaniards? We ended up with lots of funny stories.

@andbaby: That's very true.

@RiverPoet: That is the hard thing about relationships with addicts. Everyone has a different truth. I cannot even imagine the pain and suffering his kids went through growing up with an alcoholic father. That was their relationship with them. That is their truth. On the other side of it, their experiences do not negate my truth. He was a kind and decent human being to me. I am sure that is something very difficult for his children to reconcile, but just because that wasn't their reality doesn't make it mine. It's all just so terribly complicated. As I know you know. Hugs to you.

Formerly Fun said...

Congrats and nicely told.

mongoliangirl said...

So nice. Celebrating your anniversary with this story. Thank you.

Sherrie said...

Woman you always make me cry! I love that story.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

This gift beats all the fondue sets in the world, hands down! Everyone should be so lucky as to have an uncle like that.

Happy Anniversary to you and yours (although by the time you read it, it will be your un-anniversary...). I hope you and the hubster managed to carve out a little sliver of time for just the two of you.

Cue the boom-chicka-whunh-whunh music...

buddha_girl said...

Christ - I just cried.

I'm proud to call you my friend.

Patois said...

I'm such a soft-touch, clearly, as I actually had tears in my eyes reading this.

Joe said...

How awesome, I'm very happy for you. I can't help but to feel a tinge of jealousy though. Only my parents and one of my brothers came to my wedding, and he only stayed for the ceremony. And they were only 2 hours away.. not across a f***ing ocean!

Congrats though, seriously.

Kat said...

That made me cry. Awesome story. SO nice of you to send him his own invite, and so great that he went to your wedding.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

@FormerlyFun: Thank you!

@MongolianGirl: My wedding was about so much more than just me and my husband. It feels only right to celebrate it by remembering him.

@Sherrie: A tough biker chick like you? Awww! Now that is cool!

@BvonB: We've not gotten any alone time yet, but hopefully we will soon.

@Buddha_Girl: I love you man!! Thanks for stopping by!

@Patois: I know how important family is to you. What a compliment that the story of my uncle touched you so.

@Joe: I'm sorry your family did come out of the woodwork to support you and celebrate your special day. I've got several icky stories from my wedding day, too. I promise you won't feel as jealous once you hear them.

@Kat: It's amazing how one small thing, like an envelope addressed just to you can make such a difference.

Gypsy said...

That got me all choked up.

Krysta said...

what a wonderful story.