Parades are for Kids

When my children were little we lived on a street with no driveways. The historic area of La Mesa Village was lined with houses and backed up by allies on each side of the road. No driveways made it easy to walk, learn to
ride a bike,skateboard or draw hopscotch with colored chalk. So I couldn’t really object when my daughter came to me as July 4th approached on year and said, “Mama, can we put on a parade?”
Why not?
Molly invited the dozen or so children on the street to join in. I bought a cassette tape of John Sousa marches that we set in a red flyer wagon. Molly, who later graduated from FIDM in fashion design, was in charge of costumes and we scoured our dress-up trunk for everything from Mary Poppins and Bert to Jerry Mahoney and Snow White to Uncle Sam and Mickey Mouse.
The kids marched up the street, then down the street, then did it again and then did it a third time. Neighbors sat on their steps and waved the little American flags that the realtors stuck into our lawns. The local newspaper took a photo. At the end, everyone gathered on my front lawn to eat juicy slices of watermelon and spit the seeds into the rosebeds. It was grand.

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Actually, I had been in a parade at about that age when my father, Sam Bua, was Honorary Mayor of Highland Park, one of the Northeast suburbs of Los Angeles. My sisters and I were in pretty dresses in the back seat of a convertible jalopy while my Dad was smiling and waving. People knew my dad. There were lots of smiles and waves in return. I was so embarrassed.
A few years later I was in another a parade as managing editor of the Daily Californian newspaper. I wore a red jacket with silver sequins sprinkled across the collar and shoulders. I waved from the white convertible and no one knew who I was and that was fine with me.
A decade later Molly was the Mother Goose Parade maid of honor and perched on her float to clapping fans. She wore the same blue satin gown in the Columbus Day parade in Little Italy. A real marching band provided the music and children waved because she was smiling and beautiful and dressed like Cinderella.

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Not too many years later it was my job to negotiate with the San Diego Police regarding the Gaslamp Quarter Mardi Gras parade. They wanted to shut it down — too many variables, too many college kids throwing beads, too many girls standing topless in hotel windows lining 5th Avenue. But the kids loved it!
Mardi Gras was that last Harrah! before the piety of the Easter season set on reminding everyone other, ancient parades of sin and bloodshed and death, along with political posturing between Romans and Hebrews and assigning blame. The Palm Sunday parade of support and the Good Friday parade of shame up the winding path to Golgotha culminated in the Resurrection Sunday discovery that Jesus rose from the dead. No parade, just hearts changed for the rest of eternity.
The Gaslamp Mardi Gras Parade went on that year, Councilmember Wear and his family rode in an open jalopy this time and, again, the waves were genuine. The staff rode in a street trolley donated by Old Town Trolley company. No one could really see us or knew who we were, but people waved anyway. Because that’s what people do in parades. They wave until the last tuba toots. Then they pack up their things, take the kids home, wash their faces and hands and post pictures on social media.
Bob Goff, the outstanding spiritual leader, author of Love Does, world humanitarian and Ambassador to Uganda started a parade on his street in Point Loma years ago. But there was a catch. You couldn’t watch, you had to participate. If the parade went by, you couldn’t sit on the sidelines, you had to join in, be part it, march, dance, skip or twirl, but you have to be part of the parade. No one can watch the parade go by. Brilliant.
This is the type of parade that America needs right now. Everybody in. We know who’s stepped into the parade because they are our neighbors, our kids, our neighbor’s kids. The parade is made up of our teachers, store owners, grocery clerks, people in line at the food bank, shoppers at the thrift stores, black teenagers without jobs, football captains, painters, babysitters, beauty queens, politicians and window cleaners.
We are the parade.
Be the parade.

 

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Seminary Girl: Chapter One

3girls)It was cold inside the church. It was always cold. The brick exterior, scraped and mortared together on countless boring weekends by my dad his siblings, I was told, had even thicker plaster interior walls. None of the large windows faced the sun. Hand-built pews were hard and slanted so that small feet couldn’t reach the floor and I was constantly fighting not to slip backwards. Squirming. Aching. Knees gripping the edge of the pew.

Hymns wafted over my head with marching regularity each week. Mrs. Abatello, daughter of Marialena, pounded the piano keys creating odd harmonies with the voices. My father’s voice the loudest.

Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,

To the cross where thou hast died …

Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lor-r-r-r-d,

To thy precious, bleeding side.

The words were written in 1875 by a woman, Fanny Crosby, who penned more than 8,000 hymns and another 1,000 popular songs. She was born in 1820 and became blind as a two month-old babe. Her first poem was written at the age of eight. By the age of 23 she was addressing presidents and her songs were used in mass evangelistic crusades and published in hymnals that sold over 100 million copies.

Crosby was avidly anti-slavery and later lived cordially, but separately from her husband. The Methodist Church created a commemorative “Fanny Crosby Day” in their liturgical calendar.  She was contracted to write three hymns a week for her publisher but often doubled that number.  Some you may have heard sung in churches still:

Blessed Assurance

Rescue the Perishing

Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior

To God Be the Glory

Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross

Fanny Crosby was paid one, sometimes, two dollars per hymn.

Of course, I had no idea then where the soaring notes and the religiously intimate words originated.  All I knew was that my back hurt, my knees were getting numb and the Song Service lasted too long. Far too long for a five year-old on a hard bench.  A cold five year-old who didn’t want to get anywhere near a dying man on a wooden cross with a bleeding side.

After the Song Service came the blessed relief of Sunday School, taught by my aunties, while Grandpa preached a sermon. In Sunday School  the messages of the songs was more concrete than spiritual. “Onward Christian Soldiers,”  “Watch Your Hands, Watch Your Hands, What They Do,” or “Only a Boy Named ‘David’:

…One little stone went into the sling and the sling went ‘round and ‘round,

And one little stone went into the sling and the sling went ‘round and ‘round,

And ‘round and ‘round, and ‘round and ‘round, and ‘round and ‘round and ‘round,

And one little stone went into the air and the giant came tumbling down.

Hardly a passionate plea and not a drop of blood involved. The song completely skipped the giant’s head being lopped off by the young shepherd.

The marching monotony of the Sundays at The Italian Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, standing like a fortress in the middle of Los Angeles’ Little Italy – the Italian Service attended by aging immigrants long after the neighborhood transitioned into Chinatown, followed by the English Service of an offering collection, a Song Service, kneeling prayers and an honest-to-God Communion service that warned of harm if taken unworthily—continued Sunday after Sunday with unerring repetition.

Until.

One Sunday a group of men in suits like my Grandpa, with grey hair and wrinkled fingers stood inside the double-door entrance of the cold church. They huddled together speaking Italian as my father, mother, oldest sister, middle sister and I filed through the heavy doors. Swiftly, one of the men squatted down until he was eye-level with me. He reached his hand to my check and grasped it with his thumb and bent forefinger and swung my head back and forth until it brought tears to my eyes. His own eyes sparkled inches from my face.

“You are a special, beautiful child,” he said. “God thinks that you are very special and He has something important for you to do for him.  You are blessed. God will use you for his Kingdom.”

He loosened his grip and gently patted my red cheek, then stood up and returned to his conversation. I was astonished. God thinks I’m special?  I have a purpose from God?

But more importantly than being stunned, I believed him.  I always have.

I still do.

 

 

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Psalm 19

The heavens are telling the glory of God, And their expanse is declaring the work of his hands.
 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them he has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. It rejoices as a strong man to run his course,Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them,
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

This powerful song written by the flawed king, David,  describes an approach to life where each day is met with the vigor of a bridegroom who has awakened after a night of lovemaking, pleasure and intimacy. Instead of being tired and depleted, he is eager to run through the course of the day’s challenges.

Do you, like many of us, face your hectic day driven by the failures of the day before, measured by your accomplishments, haunted by your lack of them?

Does that describe your morning? Or do you, like many of us, face your hectic day driven by the failures of the day before, measured by your accomplishments, haunted by your lack of them? Is there a list that is as real as the crack of a whip on your back making you bleed? Have you had a chance to get to know your life, or is it more like sexual assault – all about power and control, conquering and moving to the next?

What if we learn to make love to our lives?

The path to lovemaking begins with arousal. Your senses are heightened by the voice of your lover, and you begin to see with new eyes. You notice everything about him, the shape of his face, the grace of movements, his lips, shoulders, eyes. You start to feel at home and present with him.

Next comes a willingness to explore. To feel his contours, to touch here, press there, and learn how to give pleasure. There is a fragility here. Mistakes are made, it may not turn out as you wished but you giggle and keep learning, keep reaching, keep tasting. And you are intentional and in the moment.

At some point you become vulnerable to be on the receiving end. Naked trust enters into it. A leap of faith based on a mix of familiarity and the wonder of the unexpected. Let yourself feel and your mind float. The ancient dance plays out.

The aftermath is satisfaction. A deep and enduring awareness that you have been loved and you have loved another. Not rushed, not used, not abused, not assaulted.

You only have one life. What do you know about it?

You only have one life. What do you know about it? What are you learning about yourself?  What choices and convictions do you bring to the day? Do your actions spring from love or from fear? Are you intentional and present in your life? Do you feel alive?

For years and years I had my own agenda. I did not listen to the voice of heaven, did not hear the glory, did not feel the heat of the bridegroom day after day. But I’m listening now. I’m learning how to be gentle and careful and passionate and loving and forgiving to my own life.

 

 

 

 

 

Make Love to Your Life

Seminary Girl

Author note: I’m starting a new book about being “called” to ministry and have been mulling it over for about three years. Here’s the very rough beginning two pages. Tell me what you think. 

Church has been important in my life for as long as I can remember. Faded family photographs show three little girls, a tall, slender one with a straight brown bob; a medium-sized one with poufy skirts and a blonde head of curls and me. I was the sturdy one. No waistline. Instead, a solid round body wearing unflattering ruffles, a heart-shaped face, black, black hair and serious eyes. The third girl-child in an Italian family in post-WWII America. Didn’t have a pitching arm. Couldn’t make a basket, spike a volley or ride a bicycle. I cried at Dodge ball.  I liked dress up and Barbie dolls and baking. And I liked to read. One of my first books was a Bible.

Grandpa was a minister.  I heard all the family lore about Grandpa and Grandma coming to America for religious freedom from Palermo, Sicily, where the priests dispensed civil punishment along with religious discipline. God was fearful, watching carefully to catch you in sin. And the wages of sin were determined by the church fathers or ruler-wielding sisters.

Frank Salvatore Bua, my grandfather, left all of that and traveled to New York City, carefully noted in the Ellis Island records and later joined by his teen-aged bride, Anna India. Not long after, brothers, aunts, cousins and more cousins followed in the wake of immigrant steamers and settled in Jersey. A few years later, Grandpa was lured to the land of promise, Los Angeles, the City of Angels.

Frank bought a corner store, with an attached abode in back.  Down the street he purchased a falling down brick building and there, in the middle of Little Italy, the family cleaned the bricks on the weekends and built a rectangular edifice with a sweeping façade that proudly bore the name, The Italian Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Plucked down in the middle of a sea of Catholics, Grandpa preached a gospel of no sainthood, no priests, no nuns and few miracles. It was a hard and simple faith. All have sinned, all are called to be saved by the death of Jesus on the cross. Only believe.

The job of men was to work, preach and save soul. My two great uncles, Tony and Charlie, did this weekly in Pershing Square downtown, where homeless drug addicts, alcoholics and thieves huddled, covered in newspapers, in the freezing shadows of tall business buildings.  The uncles worked as barbers and remained bachelors until they met Jesus at the gates of heaven. Their message was direct. Repent.

Women saved the souls of children through songs and Bible stories. Their message was reassuring. God will rescue you.

Christian women fed those in need, always making a little extra for the neighbors, held Bible clubs after school, and prayed for those more unfortunate from work injuries or still-births. They crocheted bonnets, knitted blankets, and eked out gardens of tomatoes and onions, garlic, oregano, eggplants and figs.

Grandma made meatballs out of sausage and bread crumbs and pasta “sugu” out of the jars of tomato preserves that lined the cement foundation wall in her cool, dug-out cellar. After church every Sunday, we cousins ran in our white Sunday shoes down to the corner to Grandma and Grandpa’s house where we could put one hand into a large crock and pull out a “patty” before dinner made from leftover meat, grease, breadcrumbs and garlic while the table was being set and the deep pot of handmade pasta boiled to perfection. We understood rescue.

Cousin Paul was the oldest and the first to have a religious “calling.”  He was a big guy, a football hero in high school. He went to UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and was interested in acting, with a strong sense of the dramatic and a booming voice. Somewhere along the way, he found that those skills were also requisite for preaching. He went to Princeton Theological Seminary, interned at a Presbyterian Church, married the pastor’s daughter and became a successful preacher of high intellect – no doubt he would have confounded Grandpa and his uncles in his long black robes with his sermons on eschatology and church hierarchy. His doctoral thesis was on the disciple Andrew. Thousands flocked to hear his sermons and loved his tell-it-like-it-is style.

Next to attend seminary was cousin Leighton, who had gone to Biola College and its associated school, Talbot Seminary to prepare for a ministry in counseling. Leighton is a loving and gentle man with a sweet wife and two sons. He knows the Bible like the back of his hand. His mode of preaching is service and I’m sure that he has provided spiritual sanity to thousands of lost souls.

After Leighton, cousin Wesley entered into “fulltime Christian ministry” through a para-church organization called, Campus Crusade for Christ in the late ‘60s. Campus Crusade held Bible studies and evangelistic crusades on college campuses and was a massive movement right before the Jesus Freaks countered with a more “feeling” spiritual way. Campus Crusade celebrated the football stars and homecoming queens, the clear-skinned youth “leaders” who had straight teeth, shiny hair and moral certainty.

My view of femininity was transitioning by then

to Indian printed ankle skirts, long frizzy hair, no bra and sweet worship songs.

Wes rose past the ranks of campus leaders to become an organizational executive attached to a popular speaker and writer, Josh McDowell. Wes was his “advance man” who traveled from city to city to secure details of accommodations, schedule, meals, travel arrangements and music. In Campus Crusade, men were exalted and women were viewed as handmaidens to the ministerial goals of men. Campus Crusade had control over its members in deciding where they would live and how they would serve. Individuals were not allowed to decide what they wanted to do, the organization decided their “calling.”

My mother, knowing that I, too, had an interest in ministry, wanted me to join Campus Crusade because they had beauty classes and expected women to have manicured nails and curled hair. My view of femininity was transitioning by then to Indian printed ankle skirts, long wavy hair, no bra and sweet worship songs. The Jesus Movement was my leaning.

The generation gap widened. Mother loved Nancy Reagan because she wore pretty hats to Hollywood Presbyterian Church where they both attended services during the War – a far cry from the rustic, hand built protestant church in a poor Italian enclave where the hymns were sung loudly, with crude harmony and in a foreign language.  I didn’t feel at home with either expression of God’s love for a sinful world.

…to be continued

 

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Beauty is a Healer Worthy of Pursuit

I broke my leg.  Actually, it was more than a break.

On my left leg, the outside ankle broke completely off.  After the bicycle crashed on the fresh asphalt of my alley, I lay in pain, deciding if I should call for help. I could see the door of my alley house rental was wide open. Maybe the tenant could hear me?

“Help…”

There was no sound of running steps; no one called out. The door stood cheerily in place open to the sunshine and soft breezes that make a beautiful Spring day memorable. Instead, however, a woman and man — strangers — stood over me, peered down at my body sprawled on the hard surface and one of them asked, “Did you hit my car?”

I struggled to raise myself to rest on one elbow, the gritty asphalt cutting into my skin, creating a fresh smear of blood when before only the dirty cuts and scrapes had been confined to my legs.

“I think the bike tire hit it…but I was…pretty much stopped by then…” I gasped out the words because everything hurt and I couldn’t leverage my right leg to put me in a sitting position. I lay back down.

“Could you please go to that open door right there…and get my tenant?  Just go knock on the gate and call out for Terri.  Tell her Francine needs help.”

Before anyone could move, I heard a pop, two gasps and a soft cry. Perched at last on the bleeding elbow I was able to look down at my foot. It flopped to the side — to the side — like a bird with a broken neck. It’s not supposed to look like that, I was thinking. Feet don’t go sideways like that. It’s hanging by the skin, disconnected to tendons or bones.

The woman jumped into action, pounded the wooden gate, calling, “Terrie! Terrie!”

Her partner stared at my odd-angled foot, mesmerized by a sight that is not supposed to be.  A sideways foot in a sandal with baby-blue polished toes pointing 90 degrees to the left, flopping on the ground. It was not pretty.

“Terrie, you have to take me to the hospital, please pull your car up behind me and let’s try to get me on the seat. My purse is still in my passenger seat in the driveway, can one of you get it please?”

By the time we drove the ten blocks to the hospital emergency room, the foot was turning black and swollen. Terrie and I managed to set me in a wheelchair and roll through the glass sliding doors. Soon afterwards I found myself lying on a clean steel table underneath an x-ray machine. The technicians both broke into nervous laughter as the images were recorded.

“Have you seen any of these x-rays?” one asked.

“No, this just happened.”

“Well, this is about the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Wait until you see this.”  They proceeded to take about 40 images, moving my dying foot back and forth in tiny increments. “Just a few more…”

Finally, a doctor came into the room, looked at my foot and picked up an x-ray.

“Have you see these?” he asked.

It’s a year later.

I have an 8-inch titanium plate securing the left side of my ankle to my leg. The right side is a mash-up of bone, scar tissue and a tendons that could not risk the infection of an operation because of the compromised skin. The 21 pieces of the shattered fibula are growing into a painful lump that will fill with arthritis, I’m told. The only other alternative was amputation.

The story is long, the suffering was acute and there are many lessons that I still have to share along the way.  But last night I had dinner in the flower fields, drinking wine and eating utterly delicious gourmet courses among strangers that became friends. I was surrounded by color, an ocean view, delightful fragrances, sunbeams and my wonderful daughter who had died her hair purple that afternoon. Beauty — take your breath away beauty — surrounded me, my flowery dress, my limping foot, and my grateful heart.

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I’m no saint. I lashed out at people and lost friendships during the past year. Felt sorry for myself, cried and spewed anger all over the place, just like many of us do. Like most of us do at one time or another.

But beauty is a healer. A friend took me to the beach. I spent some time in the mountains. I listen to fun, funky and beautiful blues and do it regular, even though my brain and my foot are at odds and I’ll never dance again like I did.

Beauty comes to one who pursues it and smacks into the eye of the beholder.

And last night I ate dinner in the flower fields.

 

Holidays x One: Mother of the Groom

He was a bundle of excitement and energy – a high-pitched voice that we constantly mocked, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom!!!” over and over until he got eye contact and full-faced attention. Extra smart and outspoken, Jesse always started the school year enthusiastically. About the third week of school I would invariably get a call from the teacher.

“Can we have a little talk about Jesse?”

They either loved him or he drove them crazy.

jessenick

I loved him. My sweet little bundle of baby boy was as honest as daybreak and as out there as the sunset, showing off every color, every shade, every nuance until his head hit the pillow at night with a thunk. Out.  He drove his sister crazy.  They shared a room and every night Molly would pray, “Please don’t let Jesse wake me up.”

I got divorced when he was two. So then began the round of split weekends, every other weekend with a dad that lasted until he was 18 years-old.

Junior High held some rough years and my second husband, Mike, was a God-send. They really liked each other and things smoothed over a bit. And actually it worked both ways. When Jesse was acting out and angry at the world, he committed his heart to Jesus Christ and learned self-control and surrender. Mike was completely impressed.

“Jesse showed me Jesus,” Mike said. “He showed me how to put my faith in God.”

The God in him stuck. In high school he passed out Christian pamphlets in Downtown San Diego. At UC Berkeley he joined a Christian fraternity, but worked in the summer at the local Ashram, asking his questions. He got a great high-paying job after college, but quit after six months, seeking something to satisfy his soul.

Jesse spent a year at a School of Evangelism – always questioning, not secure that he was hearing the voice of God, then following Jesus to a Mega-church conference in Atlanta for work. Just after Mike died, disillusioned with that sub-culture, he moved to the English Avenue neighborhood, with daily drug deals, boarded houses and families in need of love and light. He had 3,000 Facebook friends, girls who adored him, but he didn’t respond. He was on a mission.

So when Annabelle started showing up on his Facebook timeline when he was about 35 years-old, I didn’t think that much about it. Then he brought her to San Diego for Christmas.

The family fell immediately in love. In walked a tall, stunning, articulate, faith-filled woman who had a quirky side and great sense of humor. And beautiful, great style, with a passion for the English Avenue neighborhood. They could not have been a better fit. Before they left, I pulled him into my bedroom.

“Here, take my diamond ring.  If you’re smart, you’ll give it to her and cherish her rest of your life. She is a gift to you,” I said.

It was still a few months until the perfect proposal was worked out and the ring was hers. Both sets of parents were anxiously praying until we got the word – a wedding in October!

Being the Mother of the Groom is a different ballgame. Especially at a distance. I planned a rehearsal dinner in a city I’ve never seen, with people I’ve never met, while the kids wanted it outdoors and catered by Chipotle.   Some of the family was coming from England – would they even like Mexican food? I hurled myself into gear, sending boxes of candles, borrowing 10 serape tablecloths, shipping those white Mexican wedding banners and twinkle lights across the nation, along with lanterns, bowls and a box of colorful maracas to let the guests take home. We sat around under the lights, the children at the fire pit making s’mores, and heard the story of Jesse and Annabelle’s romance from a number of perspectives. Indeed, it seemed that heaven came down.

The wedding itsemcs_phillipswed-082lf reflected their values. A beautiful, historic venue. Guests as diverse and supportive as could possibly be. The couple washed each other’s feet, prayed over their future and danced ‘til they dropped – all sweetened by apple and peach pie.

My little boy had somehow become an entrepreneur, a leader in his community, a husband, and a Godly man. I still hear echoes of the “Mom, Mom, Mom!” and know that it won’t be too long before they have their own bundles of love piercing their ear drums on a sweet front porch overlooking the neighborhood where they are changing lives in Atlanta.

 

Holidays x One: Mother of the Bride

I got the phone call a few seconds after my son read me the text, so it wasn’t a complete surprise.

“Roe and I are engaged and we’re so happy.”

I still save the message on my phone.

It was the voice of a woman, that voice, not of a young girl or a giddy 20-something. The voice was of my 35 year-old daughter who had been through hard times, health caFB_41rises and bitter disappointments before moving 4,000 miles away for a fresh start. Four thousand miles to Portland, Maine from San Diego, California.

She couldn’t get further away from me and our persistent disapproval of each other and still be in the continental United States.

I was so happy and relieved that my daughter would have a partner who loved her and could help her through life – a soulmate, as it turned out. From what I could tell about my future son-in-law he was smart, caring, kind and deeply loved my daughter. Deeply loved.

But then I also went into a period of grieving. My daughter would have a husband while I did not. They would walk hand in hand on the beach, visit museums, explore restaurants and cities and each other. Places that I now awkwardly go alone, self-conscious and a little afraid. My time as a wife and mother is over. But I wrestled that self-pity monster to the ground fairly quickly.

Instead I went into a whirlwind of Mother of the Bride activities as much as possible when email and Facebook and texting were the common form of communication. An occasional phone call. I was tasked with making napkin rings and plunged into my task with fervor. I bought a beautiful dress and then bought her a gorgeous gown. All the rest, décor, favors, food, music, was a mystery to me. Boundaries were clearly set by this woman, my daughter. She unfriended me on Facebook.

“Don’t you think it’s kind of weird to have your mother as your Facebook friend?”

Is it?

As luck or fate or a loving God would have it, I inherited a little money and was able to fly myself and her little sister to Bath, Maine, rent a cottage and be ground zero for finalizing favors, making nametags, baking a wedding cake and put the finishing touches on her excellent vision for the day. Aunts and Uncles, her Brother and his fiance from Atlanta all joined in to make her special day come off beautifully. She was a stunning bride, poised and capable, and enjoyed every minute of the ceremony and reception as a new Mrs.

The day before, just she and I took a trip to the WalMart in New Brunswick for a last-minute list. We went through those aisles like it was Christmas.
“Let’s get this!”
“Oh, I want one of those!”
kbridaltableWe filled the cart with practical things like flashlights, and frivolous things like ribbon and bought the most beautiful blue fabric to make a Bride and Groom table. As we piled the cart high, I felt like I had my little girl back, one last time. It was the most fun we had together in years and years. And it was all mine.

Mine alone.

When my daughter was young, maybe six or seven, she had her first piano recital after only a few lessons. We sat in the audience; nervous and trembling. She came on stage, hair in ribbons and a starchy new dress, and sat down on the bench. She placed her piano music above the keyboard. And…

And stared at it. It was the wrong music.

Then, slowly, she took the book off of the music stand. Folded it next to her on the bench, then positioned her hands and played the simple tune anyway. By heart.

It was a defining moment that took me years to absorb. She was capable. She could meet challenges on her own terms. She could overcome them with poise and grace.

And she still does. And she is still mine in my heart.

Just not mine alone.

molly & Roe

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