With my impending nuptials just around the corner, the past few weeks have been exceedingly busy. I have had to pick out linens, confirm dates, dish out lots of money, juggle work, school, and a toddler. It has been quite the task, although not all together unpleasant. Sure, some of the necessary traditions that everyone else seems to know escape me. I may have addressed a few invitations as Maureen and Anthony instead of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony [last name]. I may have given my DJ a blank stare when he asked me what cake cutting song I wanted. Really? I have to choose a cake cutting song? Why did I think this would be an easy process? What I should have done was go out and buy a Wedding for Dummies book. That would definitely have helped!
It was not really until the last two weeks that some of the more beautiful things about planning a wedding began to surface. Going through all the reply cards and finding the little handwritten notes of “Can’t wait! We are so excited!” really made me smile. There is nothing like planning a wedding to force you to sit down, and think of your relationships with people.
My family is like a village, a mostly female village. Each and every person in it had a hand in my development. The women are strong, independent, and opinionated. Trust me, you don’t want to cross these ladies. I think that because I am from a Matriarch, I often think of the women of my family and remark on how they shaped me into the woman I am today. What I don’t do, or at least don’t do enough is think of the men.
My father passed away when I was young, and nothing can change that. I will always have fond memories of him, and he taught me many things that I carry with me today. After he passed, however, my sister and I became the benefactors of something great. The men in my family banded together, and gave us something beautiful. Four men, strong and brilliant men, filled the role that we had lost.
The first of the four is my Uncle, and he was the strength that my mom and my sister relied upon when my father passed. We lived with them for a while, and he served a purpose I will cherish forever. He helped heal us. I remember when I was in fourth grade, we had a big science project. We had been studying temperatures and we were tasked with creating a “cooler” to house an ice-cube. We would then monitor them and the one who kept the ice-cube solid the longest would win. I was at a loss, as was my mother. How do you build a cooler? Go go Uncle P. He swooped in like a super hero without a cape, and took me to the best home improvement place around us; his shed. We selected a few pieces of wood, some puffy stuff I later learned was insulation, and some other few doodads that held whatnots together. Together, we built this rectangular box that most certainly was not pretty. He did let me do most of the hammering and glue, so it was expected. It was so atrocious looking that I was horrified I would fail, but not only did I not fail, I won first place! To a fourth grader, that is pretty much as cool as it gets.
The second of the four was more of the teddy bear type. He has a comforting smile, and always winks at you. I remember he used to sit down with me on my grandmother’s porch. During these times, it was our routine, I would ask him when he planned on marrying my godmother. Each time he would smile and say soon. I would laugh and tell him it better be. He would wink and move on to topics about school or some random topic a young girl would deem vitally important. As I grew older, his role did not change. Although I stopped asking him the marriage question, he has not changed much. A few years ago I showed up at their house with a flat tire. He sent me on my way to his friend, and made sure all my tires were fixed. I did not have to pay, only mention his name. They smiled at me and so “Oh! He is a good guy, saved us all from tickets on numerous occasions!” You should see him now with his grandchildren, it is just too adorable. He may look tough, but he is all mush!
The third of the four is a man, who though hundreds of miles away, leaves an impression on any who meet him. He has a sense of humor larger than the distance that separates us, and he made it known. I don’t think I have a memory of him without a smile, and we always loved when he came to visit. He would get us out of trouble with a wink and a grin. Not to mention he know just about everything there is to know about anything. I remember when we first moved towards central Mass to a town most of Mass had not heard of, he went out and bought a book. By the time we saw him next, he knew more about the little town than we did. Apparently plastic was invented in Leominster, who knew? My uncle, that’s who! With his sweet southern drawl, he can wiggle his way into anyone’s heart. Not to mention, he makes a great gift. A portrait of him circulates every year at Christmas.
The fourth man is special. He is my Step-Father. My relationship with Tony is incredible. We are very close, we get along very well, and we are a lot alike. We may not be blood related, but his influence has truly made a mark on me. I am hot-headed, quick to annoy, notoriously cheap, and pretty laid back. We even look alike, although I am pretty much the spitting image of my real father too. It’s the Italian in us. When I first began my wedding planning, I knew I wanted Tony to walk me down the aisle with my mother. I wanted to show to everything that he was a vital piece of my life. He is the man who I look to as my father. He did not replace my biological father, for no one could ever do that. But who is to say that I cannot have two fathers? Both of them are part of me, and part of who I am.
When I looked at songs for our father daughter dance, I had a lot of trouble. I was twelve when Tony first entered my life, and many of the songs were geared towards that. A lot of them are also really mushy, which if you know us you would know that is not us. We have a wry sense of humor and are very independent. We bond over our love of old music and rock, and snicker evilly when we get something cheaper than it’s actually worth. It was our intention to find a totally wacky song that we both love, and grove out on the dance floor. He of course would rock the sprinkler while I did the more dignified shopping cart. Although I still love that idea, I found a song that fit us perfectly. And guess what? It’s not even rock! See, I can be a big girl when I need to be!
My Step-Father is an incredibly important person in my life, as are my Uncles. Without their love, their guidance, and their influence I would not be who I am today. I hope you all take the time every now and then to sit back and think of all of the people who helped shape you into the person you are today. You should probably say thank you.
So thank you, ubber awesome guys. See you on the dance floor.