Today, our nephew Brian Scannell is getting married to Brittany. I love them both. Brittany is best friends with Colleen Foran, the daughter of one of my best friends, Beth Foran, who is the grandmother of my grandniece Emma. So I already feel related to Brittany.
This morning, I stare at their carefully selected wedding card and seek inspiring words that describe the beauty of marriage. I pick up Something Like Magic: On Remembering How to Be Alive by Brian Andreas, a poetry collection given to me by my friend MaryAnn. Reading the poems makes me fall in love all over again.
I read Andreas’ descriptions – whoosh! There it is – that love thing. Each poem adds warmth and gratefulness, but not one says it all. I carefully transcribe “Heart Lessons” on the card:
I will carry you with me
to the end of my days
remembering all the
moments you taught me
to trust my one heart
to be alive
Mother’s Day with Men 2014
This year, Tim, Kevin, and I visited Brendan in LA for Mother’s Day. We hadn’t seen Brendan since Christmas, and I couldn’t wait to get there. Memories of Brendan’s birth entered my mind. As Tim and I sweated out labor pains on June 20, 1990, the nurses asked me if I wanted the baby to be a boy or a girl. After loving Katie and Bethy, I responded with great serenity, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll be so happy with a healthy child.” Three hours later, holding Brendan’s precious 8 pound, 12 ounce body, I wept, “I have a son.” Later, we were blessed with Brigid and Kevin, and the house was always full of a mix of genders. That was not the case on May 12th as I spent the day with Tim, Brendan, and Kevin:
Strolling down Venice Beach, CA, on a gorgeous, sunny day with my fair-skinned red-headed sons and translucent- skinned husband, I am loving life. How did I get so lucky to have these children?. “Brendan, I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday.” “Really.” I get a rush of emotion and briefly look away to collect myself. When I turn back to the boys, they have moved down the beach front. I catch up with Brendan, and I stop to admire the artists’ work at the outdoor booths. “Aren’t these earrings pretty?” I look up. Wait. Where’d you go? I spot him up on the left and hustle up to him. I say, “Smells like pot.” “Yah.” Street performers flip flop across the walkway. I say, “The acrobats are amazing.” “Yah.”I ask, “Did you see that guy spin on his rear-end to ‘All the Single Ladies?'” “Yah.” We pass a store, and I suggest, “Want to look at these shoes?” “I already did.” People of all sizes, races, ages, and styles dazzle me. I nudge Brendan, “Did you see that guy dressed like a super hero?” Yah”. Vendors sell everything from incense to rocks to skateboards to jewelry to pipes to Italian ice. “Want to try the dark chocolate cherries?” “Nah.” Looking at embroidered scarves, I state, “I have to go to the bathroom.” “You always have to go to the bathroom.” We pass a bookstore. “This is a cool book of quotes from famous filmmakers. Would you like it, Brendan?” “Sure. I can leave it out on my dresser and look at it once in awhile.” Are you kidding me? I meander further along the open air storefronts and become enthralled with a shirtless, young man’s explanation of the power of various agate stones, and I call Kevin over. “Should I get this one for Bethy? The guy says the stone enhances communication skills, and maybe Bethy would like it as a new lawyer?” Kevin looks at me like I’m nuts. I buy it anyway. I see that the back of his neck is turning a pale pink. “Did you put on sunscreen, Kevin?” “I’m good.” Through clenched teeth, I command, “Put on sunscreen NOW!” It sure is Mother’s Day. I linger over a display of beaded headbands while Kevin lathers up. I pull out my phone and text Katie, Bethy, and Brigid, “Next time, you have to come with us!” The girls would think the rocks are cool. “Did you see where your dad went?”
– LA, the land of the beautiful, clear skies, eccentric dressers, high heels, mixology cocktails, gourmet coffee and toffee. Brendan drops us at the Grove, a trendy outdoor market selling everything from cheap, costume jewelry to Nordstrom’s latest. I’m drawn to the clearance section at the back of the Athleta store and snag a running top for half off – such a deal at $29.99. I’ve lost my common Marshall’s sense and am wrapped up in rhythms of smooth jazz and the water fountain. It’s been a long winter in Chicagoland, and the sunshine seduces me. At an upstairs outdoor lounge, I order a “Spicy Fifty”, a martini with my name on it. Tim, Kevin, and I split a mountain of nachos as I scan for movie stars. We pay the bill, descend the stairs, and a woman touches my elbow and asks me in earnest what kind of product I use in my hair. Flattered to be singled out in this crowd with Jennifer Aniston somewhere, I respond, “Aveda.” The tall, dark, meticulously groomed woman gently nudges me into a high back chair by her sidewalk booth and begins combing. I’m immediately lulled into compliance, but I tell myself Do not buy anything. “Nice cut,” she compliments. I’ll have to tell Nicole at Vanis. “Clip, lift, and smooth,” the lady coos as she eases a flat iron through my hair. “See how shiny your hair is now?” Five minutes later, I hand over my Visa and am given my game changer. I turn to see Tim’s frown. He silently takes the clear bag and walks ahead of me. I duck into Crate and Barrel, and when I meet Tim again, he says, “Two women saw me carrying this bag and asked me to buy perfume. They figured I’d buy anything.” I say, “That’s very funny , Tim,” and scoff off. Just say you love my hair. What’s wrong with you?