From now on, this weekly Newsletter will be called ROBERT A. MILLS'S OP-ED COLUMN. Access it and enjoy!
Newsletter Dated: 6/16/2012 5:14:23 AM
Subject: REHEARSAL - June 16
It has been more than three years, nearly four, since the youngest daughter, Alex, married the son-in-law, Phillip. As my dear, departed friend Gordon Elliott would, in his clipped Limey accent, say, “A great deal of old soap has been wedged under the bloody wedding ring since then, hasn’t it, Robert?”
It was that marvelous first day of summer 2008, and since then Phillip and Alex have produced a magnificent grandson for us in Hutson Mills Faucette. Phillip has graduated (with honors) as a bona fide DDS from the University of Tennessee, Alex has retired as a 3rd grade teacher at St. George’s Independent School, and they have moved from Memphis to Nashville, where Phillip practiced his calling as a dentist; thence on to Birmingham so Phillip could attend Endodontist’s school.
Life, as another son-in-law often attests with uncanny accuracy and insight, is good.
Two days before the wedding a plastic shut-off valve under the ancient mother-in-law’s lavatory sink burst unexpectantly, and by the time I got home from where we were decorating the church’s parish hall for the reception, the entire second and first floor of the house was flooded, to the consternation of numerous out-of-town guests, not to mention the bride. Talk about major frustration and mind-boggling bad timing!
But, gol-dangit, I cannot vividly recall the moment-to-moment excitement of the wedding itself; it is something of a blur, a rapid montage of events, as if the culmination of episodes collided with each other to produce a hubbub of circumstances over which I had no control whatever. And being, as my long-suffering wife claims, a “control freak” of boundless acumen, this is a sad predicament.
The essence of the event is, hopefully, captured in my novel WALL! I used the occasion as the setting for how the father-of-the-bride conspires with two well-known friends of his, international characters in fact, to demolish the Great Wall of China. It is, of course, pure fiction and great fun for all involved, but it was written solely to assist me in putting the actual wedding into a permanent frame.
Although the event remains a fog that seeps from time to time into the fissures of my subconscious, I recall the ‘rehearsal dinner’ as if it occurred yesterday. It was held at a delightful venue along the most glamorous part of the Chattahoochee at Roswell’s River Landing, a park-like setting for occasions such as this. Hosted by Phillip’s parents and sisters, it was an evening forever inscribed in the Annals of Perfect Times.
Everyone who is anyone in our immediate family was there: sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandkids, aunts and uncles, cousins and nephews and nieces, in-laws and outlaws, all of whom made the journey of hundreds of miles (or several blocks,) along with close and dear friends — Debi, Amanda and Bob, Dave and Patty, Doug and Jeri, the Lamb family and their kids, Lauren and her mom — so many that to name them all would fill these pages and leave no room for the inane ramblings for which I am well renowned.
I know many names will be accidentally omitted, and we will forever be banished from cherished Christmas card lists, but it cannot be helped. If you were there and not mentioned here, it is my misfortune, hardly my intention. Obtenir un life!
The weather that June evening was as perfect as the setting. A mild temperature enhanced by a mellow breeze, no insects of any species, a faint Azalea perfume inundating the atmosphere of conviviality and scrumptious cuisine, dazzling wine and cool drinks — nothing could come ashore from the shimmering river to mar a most remarkable affair. Even the speeches (especially daughter Alex’s) and attempts at “roasting” were met with appreciative laughter and tolerant camaraderie.
This rehearsal dinner will be long remembered for its lasting quality, even if the wedding the following day was to be the dominant symbol of everlasting purpose. The seemingly interminable trek down the center aisle, babbling constantly to the resplendent creature on my arm, was my most memorable and relevant escapade.
Like so many (I hope) the details can be recalled only through re-reading the opening chapter of WALL!, as well as next week’s op-ed column. The novel, though it remains unpublished, is luckily intact; I possess the original manuscript. I look at it often. And lovingly.
The unanticipated flood at our humble abode? Long forgotten, although we still enjoy the new carpeting, new dining room chandelier and refinished furniture. The houseguests, I’m sure, were glad to eventually depart. But even the plumber got a wedding present (of sorts): new metal shut-off valves were installed throughout the house.
Copyright©2012 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved