It wasn’t the wedding my heart yearns for. That wedding must wait until my Tattooed Boy is wrapped in love by some young woman who loves him and his family the way he will no doubt love her and hers.
No, this was the nuptials of Young James and His Katie, friends since Middle School, steadies in High School, a pair that was off-again, on-again, until the light came to burn bright and unquenchable.
Young James is my nephew, the baby in a trio of brothers. He is the third of nine cousins to marry. The youngest cousin is still in single digits so there are still many years for me to enjoy such events.
Saturday, September 25 fell at the absolute end of my vacation, only two days before my classes resumed. Should we go? There’s so much to be done and the drive home will be so long. Still, I love New England as Summer begins to patch her foliage with Autumn’s red and yellow and perhaps there was a way to transform the drive into a journey with the possibility of adventure.
There were reasons for both of us to want some time in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and environs. Due north and only slightly west were Broome and Tioga counties in New York. This might be the moment to visit those Historical Societies and do a little genealogical sleuthing. From there, the road to Andover, New Hampshire, where the wedding was to take place at Bluewater Farm, led straight through Montgomery County, where I was hoping to confirm or disprove family connections. Finally, the comforts of a Hampton Inn in White River Junction, Vermont, would put us convenient to the wedding and on top of the highway home.
We would not miss this celebration.
I imagine Granny’s wedding as a small but lively party, not unlike the gathering for James and Katie. She wed Grand-Daddy David on October 11, 1919, at Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On her side, there would have been her widowed mother, her brother and sister for certain. She had aunts and uncles and cousins in New York State. Did any of them come? David’s family included parents, two sisters, a brother and a brother-in-law and lots of relatives scattered around New England. According to the class notes in a 1920 issue of the Amherst College Quarterly, the old gang turned out in good numbers. Assuming that there was a bridesmaid for every groomsman, there were five couples preceding them down the aisle, including the best man and maid of honor.
I wonder, though, who the bridesmaids were. Sister Ruth seems a fair bet, but the others? David’s sisters Clara and Helen? Who were Granny’s girlfriends?
Was the reception at the Wavle home? It’s less than half a mile from the church to 11 Story Street, just a nice walk across the Cambridge Common, down the Appian Way and Brattle Street.
I knew a lot about my mother’s wedding. My sister and I pored over her photograph album, mesmerized by her satin gown trimmed with antique lace. We giggled over pictures of bridal dinner hosted by Granny and Gramps at their house on Miles Road in Hingham, Massachusetts. In a pair of pictures, Dad grins as he receives a small hooked rug on which he could stand and Ma would not be allowed to yell at him. Ma’s gift was a pocketbook with a hundred dollar bill inside, money intended to underwrite a visit home should the need arise. By the late 1950s, the black satin-striped dress she is wearing had become a favorite garment in our dress-up box.
I wish I had photographs of Granny’s wedding. I wish I had photographs of Nannie and Pop’s wedding too, but I knew them as a couple for thirty-seven of their sixty-seven year marriage, so their union was something I was part of, took for granted. Granny and David, though, were married for less than seven years.
Granny must have been an enchanting bride, deeply in love with her husband. The only picture I have of her and David together is at the family Christmas a few months later. Her arm is around his neck and she whispers something into his ear or maybe kisses his cheek. He had survived World War One, sustaining artillery wounds and gas poisoning; he succumbed in mundane peace to “complications following streptococcus infection.”
Granny died in 1978, a couple of months before her eighty-sixth birthday. She had outlived both husbands and both sons.
I had been searching for markers of her life in the days leading up to the wedding, so she was much on my mind as I watched Young James and his Katie. I imagine her watching, smiling at them as they stood in the pines and sunshine, chuckling at the toasts, blessing them in their happiness. Were they serving cocktails on that cloud where she was reminiscing with David and Gramps, Dad and Ma, Nannie and Pop about all those weddings they were part of?
Those were celebrations I wish I could have seen.