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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

My daughter was married on Saturday. 

Some highlights:

* As we waited for my daughter and her father, my husband, to arrive I was surrounded by our family. Next to me were our sons, and behind me were my daughter-in-law (wise, warm, an essential part of my life for so many reasons) and my future daughter-in-law (with a radiant smile that embraces and spreads joy). How blessed to have such a family. They make me complete.  In this moment I know my cup brims over.

* The man about to marry my daughter watched her slowly walk toward him and as he smiled it seemed as if, for him, this was his entire world. He took her hands in his, looked into her eyes, and was moved to tears. In this moment I loved him more.

* As they exchanged their vows the sun came out and it was as if the universe smiled.

* The mother of my new son-in-law gave a wonderful speech. She was funny, witty, and, best of all, her words embraced her daughter-in-law.

* In mid sentence my son-in-law said “my wife”, chuckled, paused and smiled as he again said “my wife”. 

* The first dance together as husband and wife was spectacular. It was a mix of romance, drama, fun and action, and moved easily into everyone joining them on the dance floor. Even me! Young and old rocked on together. Everyone stayed on the dance floor for hours.

* An atmosphere of happiness and joy pervaded the ceremony and celebration. It was tangible and touched everyone. The high spirits, emotions and energy of this couple lifted me up and made a magical celebration for everyone. They dismissed every potential stress, and their calm and focus on what was truly important soothed me, and I laughed and shared their joy.

But the moment I most remember is at home, minutes before we left. I stepped into the living room and saw my daughter,  a bride. In that moment, every memory I have of my daughter flashed before me and merged into this vision of beauty. I saw the baby lying asleep on my chest as we lay on the couch in the afternoon sun. I saw the toddler jumping off the stairs into a bean bag. I saw the little girl who wriggled into a space beside me to be as close as possible as I lay immobilised in a tilt bed in the spinal unit. I felt the arms of the little girl who placed them around my neck as she sat as close as possible as we wheeled on the prone trolley months later. I saw the little girl who never saw the wheelchair I sat in, only seeing her mother whose lap she wanted to sit in. I saw the ballerina, beautifully serene and beaming as she waited to dance as a unicorn. I saw the little girl who looked after her crippled mother and elderly grandmother when we flew to Melbourne – lifting luggage the size of own little body off the carousel, and making us cups of tea in bed. I saw the little girl arriving at Wellington international airport having flown alone from Sydney. I saw the girl who rode horses ten times her size. I saw the tomboy who climbed trees and was fearless. I saw the public speaker, confident in every situation. I saw the athlete who ran, cycled, swam. I saw the young woman who has seen so much of the world, determined, overcoming challenges. I saw the young woman who took me on road trips to Mt Maunganui. I saw my brave, loving, kind, strong daughter. I saw my best friend. I saw a goddess standing before me. I saw my wonderful daughter on the happiest day of her life … and I burst into tears, my heart so full love for her, and joy that she loves and is loved.

I saw my friend and daughter who had included me in her wedding preparations. Who the evening before had included me, with her bridesmaids, in drinking cosmos, eating pizza, and watching Moulin Rouge, laughing and reminiscing. My generous daughter who opened our home to her friends and family on the morning of her wedding, to share her happiness this day. Her happiness was infectious and as we all scrambled to get ready at the last minute, we laughed as we found ourselves  sharing space, three or four people in every room.

As we waited for the bride, I watched the groom and thought of my son who two years before had stood waiting for his bride. I remembered his nervousness. I remembered the smile and joy as he watched her come toward him. I remembered the happiness that she reawakened in him when they found each other. I turned to my future daughter-in-law and she smiled at me, reassuring me. Sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, friends and more. I, and my grown up children, are truly fortunate to know love and be part of loving, caring, growing families.

“There is no greater happiness than to love and to be loved in return”

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My children are adults and either married or engaged to be married. As they approach a time when they will have their own families I often think of them with profound gratitude.  I find joy in all my memories of them as babies,  as children, as teenagers and as adults. Most of all though, I am grateful that I find joy in them today and every day.

I hear women talking about how they found it difficult to “deal” with their teenage children, or how little they hear from or see their adult children. My own mother used to say how much she enjoyed us as babies, and how this was the happiest time of her life. I don’t think she realised how hurtful this was (at least to me) to know that she found it difficult to connect with us as people.  Yet she often spoke of wishing she had a better relationship with us as adults.

A wise woman once advised me long ago to find enjoyment and to love unconditionally every stage of my children’s lives. She said that it is too easy to linger in the excitement of watching a toddler learning to walk, the relief of a child learning to read and write, the pride of a child competing in sport, achieving at school, rather than to live every moment with a child in the here and now. Not to look back wistfully, or to look forward unnecessarily, but to enjoy the moment and to explore whoever your child is. She stressed the importance of having a relationship with your child no matter, because when a child becomes an adult, that adult chooses what sort relationship develops with his or her parent.

I have had times when I have failed my children, but also times when I have given my all to them, and times when they have supported me. Whatever has been happening I have seen my children as individuals and continue to love them as individuals. I know I am fortunate. I am fortunate because of who my children have become, and I am fortunate because a wise woman advised me to enjoy every moment of their lives.

What I wish for my children is that they find the same joy and love in their children that I have found in mine.

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“By means of an image we are often able to hold on to our lost belongings.” – Colete. The  same day that I read this my son joked that the rooms left empty by adult children were full of photos and ghosts. The synergy of these statements started me thinking how important it has always been to me to have photographs of my family, not just of important occasions but doing everyday things – dressing up, sharing moments, playing, eating, anything really.

It’s not that the house is full of ghosts, but the photos are immensely powerful images that take me right back to moments in time that I can feel and touch. Not only are they wonderful memories but they are images of transformations. It’s not that children are “lost belongings”, but during times of change, or times of boredom, these images can be calming, or they can be uplifting. I can hold in my mind’s eye images that sustain me and enrich who I am. These images are even more powerful because I have taken photos and made collages that hang on the walls. Not only do I have an attachment to the memories of the photos themselves, but also to the time when I made those collages.

Proust had a lot to say about memories too, and the triggers to those memories. Seems the French were on to something.

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