I usually make a point of not putting up family photos on my blog, but here it is: my youngest son was married recently.
I keep coming back to this particular picture over and over---because it seems to radiate the love between them, because it is so full of promise, because each is such a perfect partner for the other: emotionally solid and supportive, independent while unusually sensitive to the needs of others. Both are optimistic and used to giving far more than they receive (this despite previous relationships that took advantage of the generosity).
I come back to the picture because these two are following a family tradition; because I can’t help holding my breath that their ending for the tradition follows the beginning. It is too deja vu: the wedding (with just the immediate family) before a Justice of the Peace , the ceremony squeezed in between military training sessions, the few short months together as husband and wife prior to military deployment, the uncertainty of the new husband entering an active war zone. Even the timing creates a deja vu moment: my son had just completed Army Ranger training the week before and received his new Ranger tab.
My parents were married during WWII, my father having been a sophomore in college when called up in the Air Force. The minute he received his pilot wings my mother was on a train to the south, both of them anxious to be married by the Justice of the Peace during the short gap between pilot training sessions. Both mothers (and the aunt who served as matron of honor) joined them in Sikeson, Missouri. My father’s mother had clipped the War Wedding Prayer out of the Royal Oak newspaper, carefully carrying it with her on the train. She presented the poem to her new daughter-in-law on my mother’s wedding day.
How my grandmothers both fretted over the marriage, despite giving their support. My parents had no idea what lay before them. The Air Force suffered the highest casualties of any military service during WWII. Though my father returned from WWII with the Distinguished Flying Cross, in retrospect it was nothing short of a miracle, especially considering how many close calls he had. It is history now. My parents recently celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.
I’ve always been well-versed in the other details of my parents’ wedding, but only this year did I hear about and actually read the poem.
My mother had kept the clipping all these years, then suddenly decided to pass it on to me. With her permission I had the poem and the background explanation framed, and passed them on to my new daughter-in-law.
I wanted the poem to give my daughter-in-law comfort after my son deploys to Afghanistan. I wanted it to bring each of them luck as they endure the uncertainness of war. I wanted it to hold their marriage together, when the stresses of military reality so outweigh the everyday challenges that lead civilian couples to divorce. I wanted my son to survive the war and return unscarred, physically or emotionally.
It is a superstitious thing, to put so much weight on a scrap of paper, on a sentimental poem. Deep within me resides a peace that continually says I need not worry. Yet I cannot shut down the mother-part that clings to talismans.
Life is tough.
It takes up a lot of your time, all your weekends,
and what do you get at the end of it?
...Death, a great reward.
I think the life cycle is all backwards.
You should die first, get it out of the way.
Then you should live twenty years in an old-age home.
You get kicked out when you're too young,
you get a gold watch, you go to work.
You work for forty years until you're
young enough to enjoy your retirement.
You go to college, you party until you're ready for high school,
you become a little kid, you play, you have no responsibilities,
you become a little boy or girl, you go back into the womb,
you spend your last nine months floating.
And you finish off as a gleam in someone's eye.
Frost is in the air, and I find my blog frosted over as well. What I want to write about, the photos I want to post, stubbornly refuse to be uploaded. I've tackled enough projects, enough problems in the past few weeks that now, as my world settles down, perhaps now I can figure out why some photos will upload, some will not. Until then, this is what can be uploaded: early morning frost of things long dead.
Queen Anne's Lace
It's autumn and there are only a few flowers in bloom. I've long since tired of photographing purple asters and a few remaining black-eyed susans, tired of the struggle to find some new angle. I turn instead to what has already bloomed, to what is now drying and curling, showing beauty within the end of its cycle, and in this, I find peace and hope.
1) goldenrod gall 2) stella dora 3) unknown 4) unknown 5) wild leeks (ramps)