Monday, April 23, 2012
The Wedding, My New Little Sister, And A Nice Compliment
My sister's son and my nephew Chris was married last Saturday in Charlotte, NC. That's him and wife Megan in the photo. Megan is a charming, smart and fun person. (Chris, ya dun good!) I'll remember three things in particular:
1. The entire wedding celebration -- pre-party, ceremony, reception -- was utterly marvelous, and had the added meaning of the family connection. Everything was top-notch (glad I wasn't paying!). All in all, it was probably the best wedding I've ever attended, and that's more than a few. Thanks to all those who put on such a wonderful affair. It was a pleasure to be there.
I hadn't met Megan's parents before, and they're a hoot. Mom Peg concluded her brief reception speech with the words, "Party on!" Her dad is known, fittingly, as "Big Al". At Friday night's little get-together, Big Al approached my son and his girlfriend and, out of the blue, abruptly asked them, "How old are you?" Nervously, they replied, "Eighteen." And Big Al, with a twinkle in his eye, jokingly said, "Filet? You both ordered filet mignon for the reception? They do a nice chicken, you know. You coulda gone with the chicken and saved me a few bucks." Slowly, the kids figured out he was kidding.
2. I have a new little Sister. Sister Miriam, to be precise, a diminutive 80-something nun from Louisville and the bride's great aunt. While waiting for the shuttle to the reception, Miriam and I introduced ourselves. She said, "Oh, you're Chris's uncle and your family has some famous forebear who signed the Declaration of Independence." No, he wasn't a signer, I explained, but you mean Gabriel DuVal, my 4th great-grandfather. He was a Maryland Congressman and an acquaintance of Thomas Jefferson, and Jefferson appointed him to be U.S. Treasurer and, later, to be a Supreme Court Justice. "Oh," said Miriam, "the Supreme Court with John Marshall." (Turns out Miriam is something of a historian.) "Why, yes," I replied, rather amazed.
I helped her onto the shuttle bus (she really didn't need the help) and we sat together. I mentioned that Barack Obama's mother was a distant relative of that same Gabe DuVal, so I was claiming the President as a cousin. Miriam said she'd read "A Singular Woman", the biography of Ann Dunham, admired her spirit, and had great respect for Ann's parents, who essentially raised her son Barack. She told me she was proud we'd elected Obama, but she bemoaned the resulting racism that seems to have once again reared its ugly head. From there, she told me about an old friend, a staunch Democrat, who received a White House Christmas card signed by President Ford, said "Why would I want that?", and threw it in the trash. Then she quizzed me on the status of Bank of America and wondered if there would more fines or jail time for BOA executives. (I think I flunked the quiz.) As the lovely Mrs. Gammons and I escorted her into the reception, Miriam gave us an impromptu lesson on the history of the Old Louisville riverfront. I fetched her a glass of wine. Before the meal, Sister Miriam gave the blessing. What a wonderful, memorable gal!
The reception was held at a gorgeous botanical gardens chock-full of every flower, herb, shrub and tree imaginable, topped off with ponds, fountains and exotic birds. It was glorious. There were perhaps two hundred of us drinking and eating on someone else's dime. Most had the beef. After dinner, our son found the father of the bride and told him, "Al, those filets were delicious!" Said Big Al, smiling and eyes a-twinkle: "You bastard!"
3. I received a very nice compliment. Among the assembled family down there were Chris's paternal aunts and their husbands. We had not laid eyes on each other in years, like maybe 15 of 'em. So we played catch-up and they all told me I reminded them of my late father, somewhat in appearance, more so in mannerism. Either way, this is a lovely compliment and I consider it high praise. When I grow up, if I turn out to be half the man my father was, I'll be a helluva guy!
It was great, great wedding!