Well, my niece and her new husband were married today. It was quite a lovely day. My only regret is that Jonah wasn’t here to share it with me.
I woke up at 7 am so we could get to the Salt Lake Temple by 8:30. Even though I couldn’t attend the ceremony itself, it was my job to make sure my mom got there okay. She needed someone to drive her and make sure she found where she was supposed to go. Mom, who has dementia, must have looked at her watch 10 times (no exaggeration) on the way (and we were right on schedule and even got there early).
I found a very close parking space and walked Mom to the temple entrance just as our neighbors from across the street showed up. We went in together. They actually have a nice waiting room where people who aren’t attending the ceremony can hang out. I don’t remember it being there when my brother and his wife got married many years ago, but I was glad it was there today because it was cold.
It was kind of weird being at the temple and not being able to go in. Not bad, just different. I was surprised at how noisy it was allowed to get in the waiting room. In fact, the man at the recommend desk suggested that those in the wedding party wait in this waiting room rather than the one inside the temple as that would enable us to talk as loudly and freely as we wished. I guess what made it feel weird was to be surrounded by temple workers and have the same solemn organ music one hears in the temple waiting room piped into this one and not have one person shush you or remind you to be reverent and keep it down.
I met my sister-in-law's brother-in-law, of whom I’ve heard nothing but negative things such as that he’s a chauvinist, lazy, a complainer, a pessimist, selfish, self-centered, and kind of a jerk, among other things. I’d never actually met him before, but after three minutes with him I do not doubt that anything I’ve heard about him is completely accurate. What a “Debbie Downer”! “Killjoy, Party of one!” All he could do was complain, and it was clear he didn’t even want to be here. My sister-in-law's sister was just humoring him, but you could tell she was annoyed by his behavior. Frankly, I don’t understand how she’s stayed married to him all these years (or what she even saw in him at all in the first place), but based on stories my sister-in-law has told me about him, and, more importantly, based on my own, admittedly short, interaction with him I wouldn't tolerate or put up with his crap or attitude. (I notice, too, he didn't attend any of the days' remaining festivities.)
When the wedding party left to attend the ceremony, my neighbor's granddaughter was in the waiting room, too. Her mom had asked me to keep an eye on her and my neighbor told her what a great guy I was. There is a kids’ room in the waiting area where they can watch videos about The Book of Mormon and such, and she was originally sent there, but came out a minute later and said, “That video is boring,” and proceeded to chat me up for the next half hour. I had actually brought Sudoko puzzles and Entertainment Weeklys to read, but Little Miss Chatterbox made that completely unnecessary and, frankly, made the time pass by quite quickly. I found her incredibly adorable and charming, and she looks just like her mother did at the same age.
She told me all about the Percy Jackson book series, and we compared them to Harry Potter. Her take: Percy Jackson is the superior series (we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one). She told me all about Greek and Roman gods and their various names: i.e. Jupiter/Zeus, Neptune/Poseidon, Mars/Aries, etc. and neither of us could remember Hades’ Roman equivalent (I later remembered it is Pluto). She told me about the times she hurt her leg and broke her elbow. She told me all of her cousins’ names and that her uncle and aunt were getting a divorce (a surprise to me). She told me about the time her mom had broken her foot and played kick ball with her cast. I told her about when I had dislocated my ankle and broke my foot on my mission. She sang me a modern version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which included iPods, digital cameras, and cell phones, and when I told her we had none of those things when I was her age, she very seriously looked at me and earnestly said, “I don’t think I could live without my iPod!” I also told her we had only three channels on TV when I was a kid, and she stated that she didn't think she could survive if she didn't have TV. She showed me photos she had recently taken with her new digital camera, and I showed her photos I had taken on my recent trip to Disneyland, and then she talked about her favorite rides at Disneyland and her aspirations to visit Hawaii, Rome, and Greece, and I told her I’d been to Rome, but shared her desire to go to Greece and Hawaii. She relayed the whole plot of some book called The Red Pyramid. It was a very entertaining conversation.
Soon enough, the wedding party came out and we waited for the bride and groom to change so we could take photos. My mom seemed a little restless, so we went outside.
Soon the bride and groom came out. They looked great, he in his tux and she in a simple, but elegant, dress; and both wearing sneakers, which I just thought was awesome! My nephew had shown up in the Victorian tuxedo and cape that Jonah had put together for him, which I thought was double-awesome!
I guess the groom had been taken to the wrong area prior to the ceremony and when a temple worker went looking for him, she told the bride of another “groom” that was in the waiting area wearing a cape. My niece said, “That’s my brother. He probably should stay out there. That would be awkward.”
My brother-in-law took the wedding photos, and the first one was a joke one where my caped nephew stood in front of the groom and “upstaged” him. My brother-in-law also had us in a group photo where he had everyone kiss their significant others on the steps of the temple. I said to my sister-in-law, “I wish Jonah was here.” She laughed. What a great photo that would have been: us kissing on the steps of the Salt Lake Temple!
I took my mom and sister back to my mom's house. Later, when my brother's family dropped by, they told us that my brother-in-law (the wedding photographer) had left his bag unattended while he was taking photos of my niece and her husband, and three agents from Church security were surrounding it, and a team was almost called in to blow it up in case it was a bomb.
At 1:00 pm we went to a very casual luncheon at my brother's stake center. My niece and her husband had wanted a forest theme with blue and white as their colors. The decorator did a nice job, although I feel Jonah could have done a better one. But everyone was pleased, and that’s really all that counts. There were Christmas trees used as the “forest” and white and blue material strewn across the hall and on the tables. There was a gazebo and an archway covered in branches and such, and a lot of twinkle lights. It was nice.
There was also a Mitt Romney cut-out with my nephew's face pasted on it, so that he could “attend” the reception (when, in actuality, he is serving a mission in Canada). My nephew is a pretty tall guy, and, evidentally, Mitt Romney was the closet match. Pretty funny!
Before the luncheon started, my neighbor and I talked in the foyer. She told me she had defended me to someone in the wedding party. Whoever it was (I have my suspicions) basically said it was “too bad about [Cody],” referring to my coming out and excommunication, fully expecting my neighbor to agree with him. Instead, she defended me and observed how happy I am and said there was no reason to feel bad about me. The other person said, “But God is not happy with his choices,” and my neighbor said, “How do you know? Do you speak for God? It isn’t for you and I to judge how God feels about [Cody's] situation. That’s between him and the Lord.” I guess that shut the other person up, but I appreciated her saying that. Frankly, I feel God is happy that I am happy.
The luncheon was nice. Very casual. We wore jeans and casual shirts. It was a potluck, and there were some really good salads and casseroles.
I drove my mom back home and we both took a nap and then headed to the church again at 5:30 PM for the formal reception and to have more pictures taken.
It was nice. The bride and groom looked very happy. They had wanted ice cream sundaes for the reception, and my nephew and his friends were all decked out in florescent green ties and aprons to scoop the ice cream. I thought it was fun and informal (even though it was still formal), and that personifies who my niece and her husband are. The sundaes were good, too.
I was able to visit with some relatives and friends. My neighbor's son and I also had a nice talk. I guess the rumor is true that he and and his wife are divorcing (at his request). She doesn’t want to, not necessarily because she wants to stay with him, but because of how it will look (at least that’s the impression I got). I asked him what had prompted this. He feels his wife has mental health issues she’s not willing to acknowledge or seek help for and that her moods can change on a dime; that one moment she’s nice and sweet and the next she’s mean and hurtful, and that after years of dealing with it, he’s at his wit’s end and feels that unless she’s willing to seek medical help (which she isn't), he can no longer stay with her for his own emotional well-being and sanity.
He says the situation has been especially stressful because, as is often the case in Mormon culture, unfortunately, he’s finding that many people are seeing him as the bad guy in the scenario, and while he doesn’t feel the failure of the marriage is any one person’s fault, he has been surprised by how the taboo aspect of divorce and the “blame game” has caused people he’s associated with in Mormonism to shun him in a way.
Of course, this is all from my neighbor's son's perspective. I’d be interested in hearing the wife's side of things. But while I am surprised that this couple who has been together nearly as long as my brother and his wife have are divorcing, I am not too surprised at the reactions of some of their fellow Mormons nor am I surprised by the possibility that the wife might still be trying to keep up a façade that seems to be crumbling. Even when I talked to her at the reception, she seemed to be trying to put on a brave face, pretending that things were better than they seem to be. Or perhaps that was just my interpretation.
My neighbor's son and I talked about the parallels in our situations. Of course, they are very different, but in same ways he now feels like an outsider, and I can certainly relate to that as well as to the need to do something "taboo" for your emotional well-being. He asked my advice. I said he needs to focus on and remember the kindnesses he is shown and the people who do not judge him or treat him differently because of this situation. I said that ultimately the only two people who really know what has gone on in their marriage are him and his wife and that what other people think, regardless of how much it might hurt or offend, shouldn’t play into that. Of course, that is often easier said than done, but that was my advice.
We also talked about how a seemingly bad thing or a difficult and painful situation can often lead someone on a road to enlightenment and perhaps help them find happiness they didn’t know they could find. I don’t know if that will be his case, but that’s what I felt I was supposed to tell him. And I reminded him that if he ever needed to talk, I would listen. He said he appreciated that and said that sometimes just having someone to listen has been very helpful while he deals with this. He also said he really hopes to meet Jonah the next time he is in town.
The wedding cake was cheesecake, and we watched my niece and her husband cut it. It was actually some of the most delicious cheesecake I have ever had. I think it came from Costco, but it was really great.
Soon, the party dissipated. I had my sister and her husband drive my mom home. My niece's parents looked so tired, and I wanted to help them clean up so they could get out faster. We took the Christmas trees down and boxed them up to return to the neighbors and friends they had been borrowed from. I also cleared the tables. Fortunately, we didn’t have to take down the tables and chairs as there would be a high priests’ function the next night. And the party planner would be taking down her decorations. So really, there wasn’t a lot to do, so I was glad my brother and his wife could get out of there fast.
After my sister-in-law thanked me for helping out, I drove my other niece and her friend back to my brother's house and then drove in the rain to my mom's house, where a bunch of people were dropping off the wedding gifts to the bride and groom's room here at my mom's house. I said goodnight to my mom and then Jonah called, and I told him of my day’s adventures and told him how much I had missed him and wished he were here with me.
Dealing with my mom's dementia again reminded me how much more relaxed I have felt these past few weeks home with Jonah. I hope that doesn’t sound terrible. I love my mom so much and am very devoted to her well-being, but it can get stressful at times dealing with her memory loss and disorientation and lack of awareness, and it has, admittedly, been nice to have a break, although she will be going back to Vegas with me for a week. I figure that gives her a mini-vacation and also gives the newlyweds a bit of time to adjust to their new home. I hope this situation will be good for both them and my mom.
Tomorrow is my great aunt's 90th birthday party. I’m glad I can be here for it. I love her. She is one of my very favorite relatives, and she sure doesn’t look or act 90.
It’s been a great day. I’m tired. I’m happy for my niece and nephew-in-law, who will be heading to Cedar City tomorrow for their honeymoon. Good night.