Family weddings. What can be more joyful? Linking the sibling circle, celebrating rather than mourning. It is a chance to rejoice in our roots and see the future in our kids. I’m from Royal Oak- I could torture the roots, trunk, branches and acorn metaphor to death as I am inclined to do. But I’ll spare you.
The last weekend of July, Steve and I traveled back in time and geography to Detroit. We packed up our party clothes and headed home…to my childhood home that is.
My beautiful niece Caitlin married her wonderful Ben in the very same church we were married in 37 years ago, Shrine of the Little Flower.
It was on a perfect Friday evening, as my wedding was. Caitlin dressed in the living room of the home I dressed in on August 11, 1978: her mom, the baby of my family now lives there. (Of course, I tripped and ripped the lace at the hem of my gown, and in Janet form, sewed it back on with dental floss. The thing was $200 bucks worth of polyester, never meriting an heirlooming. It is currently in a plastic bag in the attic, and I gotta say- it hasn’t yellowed one bit. And the dental floss held well. Why do I keep it? Dunno. No daughters…though I did cut a piece of lace off for Mary to put in her baby book on the occasion of her Baptism)
The wedding co-celebrated the anniversary of Caitlin’s parents, the aforementioned sister Marie and her husband Larry. Their wedding, in the same church 34 years earlier, had occasioned an epic sulk by Steve triggered by an ill-fitting suit and noose-like tie. This mood was ameliorated by a generous and unguarded act of spontaneous love..no, distraction…by yours truly, which then resulted in Patrick Joliat Dahl.
So the date was special. Reminiscent and fateful. Beautifully full of love incarnate.
Steve has matured, found new appreciation for and by my family, and no longer hates ties. (His pants still were a bit of a noose, and a belt provided security in the event of a button pop.) He bought some Finn Comfort shoes so he wouldn’t suffer podiatrically. He did not complain once during the drive. He sat in his pew like a model Catholic. (Ha) Listened to my tales of daily Mass, and first Penance. Shuffled me to the Usher’s room when I had a coughing fit so I wouldn’t wreck the video. Posed for dual selfies at the scene of our marriage. Enlisted the Mother of the Bride to take a picture. Then he whisked me off to the reception. He danced. Made small talk. Enjoyed the kids’ dancing styles. Was an angel.
And then it was over. Well, almost over. The reception ended at 12:30. He wanted to go at 12:15.
Of course, I did not. Every moment among my family seems a treasure to me; every moment seems like a party to him. The subtle difference between these two perspectives is a gap that we did not effectively bridge. I pouted. He stewed.
I wanted those extra moments, and he wanted appreciation for the 375 minutes he had given me. In hindsight, the “give” of 15 minutes, and the “get” of a happy Janet would probably lead Steve to capitulate. I’m not so sure I would be as generous.
I think both of our positions are reasonable. Reasonable minds are free to differ. I was wistful, not angry.
But it became a fight. Such a detour after a fairy tale evening.
The good news is we were able to navigate the “why” of our divergence. 36 years of marriage have taught us to fight fair, listen and shift as needed. (Truth told, we have differing styles: Steve likes to fight to a resolution and cannot sleep unless strife is over; I have fallen asleep during Battles Royale, and awaken with no edge or need to resume life in the bunker. Steve used my magic slate to his advantage in the drinking days…but he cannot use it to end a skirmish. It works out that the allure of sleep is a powerful inducement for me to be rational.) Spontaneous and generous acts of distraction were not on the table. We dealt with our issues. It took more time, and was not fun, but we still have to do the work so that we can (maybe) avoid potholes next time out.
I will continue with this Janter in the next few days. This episode awakened some subconscious complications in me, things that my German half forces the Irish quarter to suppress. My Irish melancholy is really clawing its way to the surface as I age. I am sentimental, maybe even given to maudlin thoughts. Heavens, I have no clue what my Swiss/French quarter is up to. Perhaps they are neutral. That’s good.
It took me two weeks to write about our trip. I apologize. I often think my Granny/Janny observations are too trivial to bug you with. ….but I’d still appreciate it if you stop back. I’m getting catharsis, and so I am grateful for the platform. Besides, don’t you want to know the rest of the story? Then you can be armed for your return to your roots.
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