“Remember the lovely two-piece, gray silk dress I wore at your daughter’s Bat Mitzvah?”
“Mom, she was 13. She’s 31!”
“Oh,” I said. “It’s vintage!”
And so I wore that dress at my grandson’s wedding in Palm Beach. I had found an old girdle in the corner of a drawer, and although I couldn’t really bend in it, the dress fit fine, and everyone said I looked great. (Well, great for 83, anyway.)
The wedding pulled together about 40 members of our extended family, plus my son’s high school and college friends and, of course, the bride’s family’s assorted cousins and friends. We were 300 people trying to reconnect with the old and to get to know the new.
The tall, balding man came rushing over with a hug — the last time I saw him, he was 16-years-old, sitting at my kitchen table at 2 a.m. discussing colleges, careers and girls.
He introduced me to his son, saying, “She knew me at your age.”
The cousins, nieces and nephews last seen thirty-plus years ago — when they were kids —had kids of their own. We were able, to my surprise, to pick up where we left off — talked of intimate life issues not usually shared with strangers. I learned about rocky marriages, difficult children, work problems, and also about the successes, the proud moments, the hopes for the future. My husband had looked forward to meeting all these relatives from my past life, so I missed him especially, but my role as a widowed matriarch was a new adventure. I took advantage of it — dispensing advice from my elderly perch. Weddings are a joyous opportunity to see people we were once connected to but lost track of, to spend time with those whose genes we share, but never met.
The new in-laws had organized everything to perfection — from a dinner at Mara a Lago — Donald Trump’s old haunting grounds — to the wedding in the Flagler Museum decorated with white orchids and candlelight. Trolleys would pick us up and take us back to our hotels.
The newlyweds, obviously in love, were a joy to see. Everyone agreed that they were perfectly matched. The families liked each other. We were each happy about the choice our children made. I love my new granddaughter, as they do their new son. It is wonderful when the newly-blended families raised their children with similar values. It makes it easy not only to feel close, but to also become friends.
Having quiet time with both my children, my daughter from Toronto and my son from London, with their respective spouses and children was a treat seldom achieved due to distances and schedules. I savored every moment. It just so happens that my three grandsons are incredibly handsome, brilliant, kind and fun to be with. I danced with all three to very loud music and to lyrics they knew, but I couldn’t understand.
The hotel we all stayed at, the Breakers, has five swimming pools, several restaurants and endless beaches. The thoughtful in-laws had rented two cabanas for us by the pool where we all congregated during the day, ordering Caesar salads and fish tacos with small children playing together, every one of them attached to hand-held video games.
After the final after-the-wedding brunch at our in-laws’ home, we wondered when we would all meet again. Many had to stay on as European airports shut down due to the erupting volcano. Not a bad place to await departures.
I flew home to unpacking, stacks of mail, phone calls, e-mails and cheerful greetings from friends who said they had missed me, but especially to happy memories of a perfect wedding in a perfect setting, warmed by the souvenir of being lovingly-embraced by our new family.