A while back, during my college years, a tad bit before the virtual world exploded into cyber space and super electronics became the norm, I used to love to listen to Paul Harvey‘s, “The Rest of the Story,” segment on a little thing called the car radio. I loved how he took one story and delved deeper into it to provide a whole different aspect. After publishing my post yesterday, I began to reflect more deeply on all the things that combined to make that day so special. You’ve all now heard about why that one particular photo of Mama has such an impact on me personally. But what you don’t know is some of the other factors that came to be that day, helping to make an unforgettable experience for us all.
To begin, I must say that every person in attendance contributed in some way. Everyone had to alter plans and travel distances to be present. You see, Mom was not in her hometown. We had decided that placing her in a more central location to all who would be spending their days with her in the hospice facility was a more logical solution. We were actually two hours away from where I grew up and my parents’ hometown. We would have had it no other way. We wanted Mama to be surrounded by those she loved as often as possible and for as long as possible. We were all more than eager and strongly desired to contribute in any way possible to create a day to remember.
Patrick and Traci of course were the ultimate deciding factor in getting the wheels turning. It was their kind spirits and abundance of love for Mama which guided their hearts. It was also their generosity in allowing others to shower them with assistance and contributions as best we could. They took care of all the little details necessary for the wedding couple, including gathering up all their little kiddos, preparing them for the day and then finally themselves as well.
My sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, Adrian, housed several people in their home during this time. Her children gave up their bedrooms without hesitation and were always eager to assist any of us. Elizabeth was the ultimate hostess, providing food and transportation for many. So many of her generous friends dropped by with dinners, snacks, treats, and even flowers to show their support and to ensure that their sweet friend would not be overwhelmed by so many guests.
My twin, Diane, spent long hours on the phone over several days dealing with schedule changes, flight arrangements, and car rentals to ensure that her husband, Scott, and three boys, who live several states away would be able to attend as well.
Mama’s sisters, Aunt Trish and Aunt Lou Lou, were by her side daily and rescheduled their days so as to be there to help beautify her for the ceremony and hold her hand during this whole process. Aunt Trish provided something “old” by gifting Traci a broach to wear that was painted by Mama. They were more than a support; they were a shoulder to lean on and a hand to hold.
As for Traci’s side of the family, her parents were taking care of their growing brood of grandchildren and helping to ease any stress for the happy couple in any way they could. Patrick has twin girls and Traci has a son and daughter. What a lovely group of people to combine into one loving household.
Traci’s sister, Rachel was a true expert in catering a last minute wedding. It was absolutely fantastic and such a lovely addition to the day. She also somehow magically created all of the bouquets and boutonnieres for the wedding party. I am not sure I have ever seen more beautifully arranged flowers in my life. I don’t know how she did it! She definitely sprinkled a little fairy dust on the affair!
I felt truly blessed and frankly, terrified when my brother and Traci asked if I would photograph the entire event. I typically do all of my work outside and this was a bit out of my comfort zone. My hesitation was for a mere second and then I promised that I would do my best; but deep down inside felt emotions might just get the better of me, leaving me in a state of frenzy on the special day. I have considered myself a solid photographer for years; but, this was somehow on a whole different level. The ceremony was beyond emotional; but viewing this immensely intimate moment in time through my insanely timid photographer’s eye that day, was one of the most illuminating experiences I have ever had the joy of living in.
There remain two exceptionally sweet moments that can only be considered divine intervention. Early on, there was much question in locating the perfect spot to hold the ceremony. That was soon resolved by the nurses who strongly suggested that Mom’s bed should only be rolled out as far as the doorway to her room. We looked around and sighed, having the beautiful image in our minds of just what the original venue would have provided, and yet knowing in our hearts what was truly important.
Early on the morning of the wedding, two of Traci’s sweet friends, disguised as miracle workers, waltzed in with twinkle lights, paper bells, and flowers to spruce the place up. As soon as the nurses caught sight of this, they rushed down to assist by providing sheets to hang from the ceiling and frantically began moving all medical equipment out of view. I very vividly recall the tears that formed in my eyes at that moment. What a sight to behold! The love pouring forth from Traci’s friends and the most genuine desire to provide support by the nurses was more than evident. It was felt by us all, deep down in those special spots reserved for exceptional moments in humanity.
Finally, as Dad prepared for the day, he realized he was lacking appropriate attire for the wedding. He felt certain he could get away with the pants he had, but needed to stop by the mall to buy a shirt and tie. As he wandered the unfamiliar grounds of the massive mall, gazing into the windows of unfamiliar stores, he came across a shop that appeared to have just what he needed. There was only one problem. The store didn’t open for another hour, which he did not have the luxury of. So Dad did what any great man would do in his hour of need, he knocked on the door and flagged down the person inside. The salesman came to the door and promptly said, “We don’t open for another hour.” At that point, Dad took a deep breath and relayed his story to the young man. I feel certain that at that very moment, this man looked into Dad’s eyes and felt the magnitude and importance of the day. He then simply asked Dad to wait a second and on his return he opened the door to Banana Republic and welcomed Dad in for his very own individual shopping spree. That wonderful salesman assisted Dad in locating a shirt and tie worthy of the man that was to officiate the ceremony of marriage for his only son. And although the shirt was wrinkled and his pants worn, I have never seen my Dad look more distinguished than he did that day.
The service was amazing! There was not a dry eye in the room! It was, by far, the most intimate, emotional, loving ceremony I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. It represented what all weddings should be about, the love of two people and those who share in the best, most successful well wishes for their life together.
“And now you know….the rest of the story!”