Over the break, back in Chicago, and among the usual madness and family pajama fest, my parents decided to renew their vows after 25 years of blissful (eh, most of the time) marriage.
I think it was something my mom designed in her head so she would have something to get excited about again. Something real, something that wasn’t broken. So much has changed in the last few years. So much of our old collective life feels like a relic of the past, lost in shadows and growing weeds tumbling up over the backyard.
The parties, the ballgowns, the glamour–it all seems so far away now. This “wedding” was like finding something of the past for my mom, like when you clean out an old purse and find a long lost earring. It was something tangible, something she wanted to pursue and develop–something to make her own so she could feel like she really did own her life again.
At first we thought the idea was hilarious. Just family. My younger brother, being the eccentric, actor-type became ordained as a minister online (which took 5 minutes. how’s that for religious selectivity?) We didn’t know what this meant to mom at first. It felt like something we could make light of–something we often have to do now to get through the most thorny patches of days.
Our laughter and jeering quickly faded as things started getting out of hand and quickly spun violently out of control. My mom became a bridezilla and decided that she should invite 150 people from every corner of her cob-web covered address book.
It all seemed so ridiculous. She had decorated our–now sparsely decorated–living room with odd little tables, set up with memorabilia from the most important times in her married life.
One had a kimono and a whale to represent the 10 years we spent in Maui.
One had a different item to represent each of her friends who stood by her over the years. (My personal favorite being the actual tub of sugar she used to represent her friend ‘Sugar’–who has appeared in some of my short stories, the glamazon, bottle blonde).
One had pictures of she and her siblings all dressed in lavish costumes the evening before my parents wedding–a costume ball per my parents usual style and flare.
Things progressed and mom grew more and more agitated with our lack of seriousness about her beloved event. We were truly starting to get embarrassed, us kids. I know we’re supposed to be at the age where we don’t care what people think anymore. In fact, we go out of our way to be outrageous–I was personally devastated (and extremely pissed) when my mother informed me I had to wear a cocktail dress instead of my kimono and a onesie. It wasn’t that we thought the event was no longer comical or fun, it was that it felt like my mother had invited all of these random people into our home to make fun of her.
To us, it felt like whatever bit of quiet dignity and grace we had been aloted in our–now very–private lives was being put on public display. It was an alien feeling, this shame, and I was worried the whole thing would be a complete disaster.
In the end, and thank god, I was wrong.
A peace came over the room as my mother entered with a wisp of gardenia perfume into a room pungent with Francesense.
Though she did dress like a Gothic princess, (reminiscent of her first wedding) it was an incredibly sweet event–tender in all of the ways i never imagined it could be. No one laughed. No one poked fun at my family. They only supported–they looked on with graceful smiles and genuine goodwill for my mother’s happiness. I felt foolish for doubting her. I felt ashamed for allowing myself to forget the good in people after so much betrayal.
We all had stories planned to illustrate my mother’s outrageousness, but instead we all told sweet, loving stories because somehow we all just knew that this was how it was supposed to be. Even my silly, over-the-top brother, in his full priest costume, and Scottish hat was charming and adorable.
It was just so us. So Englelot.
And right when I thought things just couldn’t get better, couldn’t get any cuter, my dad got down on one knee, took my mother’s fragile, arthritic hand, and sang his own version of “Camelot” to serenade her on her special day–replacing “Camelot” with the word ‘Englelot,” our name, our home, our old David Adler with its crumbling stone walls and vine covered facade. He sang to her inside our home, on the floor of our living room where I had opened 1,000 Christmas presents, taken 1,000,000 singing lessons and where I had been more loved than any child in the entire world.
Camelot had always been their movie. From the very beginning. He had always been her prince and she had always been his queen. With that veil over her lovely satin skin, sitting in front of that blazing fire-place, she really looked the part.
My parents have not had a perfect marriage, but even in the worst of times they’ve always managed to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They say things that hurt each other and scream and fight, but in the end it doesn’t matter. They’re always going to happily ever after in Englelot.
As my daddy, my hero, sang to my mom, tears began to well in my eyes. He sang to the woman whom he had loved unconditionally for the last 25 years. The woman he always thinks to bring chocolate covered pretzels to because he knows they’re her favorite, the woman whom he always thinks of first, the woman who brought 5 talented and dynamic children into the world and raised to be true individuals, true trail-blazers.
To me this moment was the most organic and pure form of true love that I had ever seen.
The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there’s simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
I will probably never find this kind of love (who could be as amazing as my dad or as fantastic as my mom) and I will die alone with my 1000 cats k bye.