Today would have been my precious Grandmother’s 90th birthday.
In memory of her, I wanted to share this fun story I wrote about her 20 years ago.
She had just remarried her high school sweetheart after being reunited with him at her 50th high school reunion. She had been a widow for 16 years, so it was a big change for all of us. I wrote a children’s story about the wedding from the perspective of my cousin who was around 10 at the time. Obviously, I projected a lot of my own feelings about my Grandmother’s wedding onto my cousin. I was in college at the time, and with my Grandmother and George having so recently been married, it just seemed like the safest way to tell the story.
Today I am going to light the candles at my Grandmother’s wedding. When I told my friends that my grandmother was getting married, they were surprised.
“My grandma is already married. To my grandpa!’ That’s what Suzy said.
Mandy said, “My grandma is dead.”
‘Well, mine is getting married,’ I told them.
My real grandfather is dead. He died before I was born, and that is a long time ago. Now Grandmother is getting married all over again to a man named George who has a funny name that I can’t say or spell. George is short, and he doesn’t have much hair, but that is okay because he jokes about it. His jokes aren’t funny, but that is okay too because Grandmother always laughs at them anyway.
I met George last summer. Grandmother invited all of us over to meet him. I teased Grandmother about having a boyfriend. It is funny for an old lady like my grandmother to have a boyfriend. I don’t remember much about the night I met George, except that my grandmother looked beautiful. My grandmother is pretty anyway. She thinks you have to be young to be pretty, but she’s wrong. Grandmother doesn’t like to be wrong very much, but she’s wrong about that for sure. I know she’s wrong because she is old and she is beautiful, and that night that I met George, she looked more beautiful than ever. She laughed over and over again, and she hardly ever took her eyes off of George. I could tell he liked her a lot, and I didn’t blame him because she’s a lovely lady, especially that night because she couldn’t stop smiling. When Grandmother smiles, her eyes get twinkles in them like they know a secret. You can’t believe how pretty my grandmother’s eyes are. I like the way they go with her gray curls.
Last August, I knew for certain that Grandmother was dead gone on George. She was worse than my cousin and her boyfriend. My cousin cries every time her boyfriend goes anywhere. My mom says it’s because they are always breaking up and getting back together, but I think she just cries too much. Daddy says they are just teenagers. That’s what I would say about Grandmother and George if I didn’t know any better, they are just teenagers.
But I knew for sure that Grandmother was gone on George last August at Uncle Craig’s birthday party, and this is how I knew. When we were singing the part that goes, “Happy Birthday, Dear Craig,” my grandmother sang, “Happy Birthday, Dear George!” She never even noticed her mistake, but we all did because my grandmother sings loud. I laughed inside.
Now they are getting married, and I am going to light the candles. Some people say that it is silly for Grandmother and George to fall in love and get married when they are old. I think that those people are just jealous because they want to smile all the time like Grandmother and George.
It is spring and the church has ribbons inside, and the sun is shining through because the walls are all made of glass in this church. It is a small church because it has to hide way back in these woods, so people can walk to it. It’s more romantic that way.
More and more people are arriving. They are mostly old and tell me how big I am. Sometimes I would like to tell them how big they are, but I don’t because this is Grandmother’s wedding and she wants me to be good so I am. My brother and my cousin are ushering all the old people inside this little church. My mother and my aunt, who both have hair like the glow of a bright orange sunset, are rushing around trying to put all us kids in place. My little brothers are crying because they don’t want to carry the rings.
The music starts and it is time for me to light the candles. I light my stick and start walking. The aisle is not very long but I take a long time on it, because you’re supposed to walk slow at weddings. I pass all the people who say how big I am and I pass my cousins who are in front. They are both wearing pink dresses and they look alike. But I can tell them apart easy. Sometimes other people can’t. I like the way their brown and golden curls look messy on their heads. I think I would like to wear a pink dress and have messy curls. I light all the candles. It is quiet except for the music. My cousin winks at me and smiles. I like her even though she cries too much.
I sit down now because my job is done. Now here come my aunt and my mom in navy dresses and sunny hair. They are smiling with tears. My sister with the flowers and my crying brothers with the rings go next. Then there is my grandmother. She is even more beautiful today than usual. She is smiling with tears too, the same as my mom and my aunt. Grandmother’s dress is a rainbow of colors, and she is wearing a straw hat and carrying flowers. Everyone is looking at her because she is a pretty sight, and because she is so happy. I know for a fact that she is happy, because she doesn’t even mind anymore if we take drinks in the living room.
George is smiling too. I know he loves my grandmother because he looks like my little brothers do when they are about to get a candy bar. I like George. I like him even though he has a funny last name that I can’t say or spell. After my grandmother walks to the front, my cousins sing. My mom is really crying now and I don’t know why. My cousin who cries too much is singing with tears in her eyes, and my cousin who doesn’t cry is crying too. They are all crying the same way, like they are happy and sad at the very same time. The song is pretty and I know my grandmother likes it because she picked it out. She is proud of my cousins for singing and she is proud of all of us for doing our parts and being good. I know why everyone is smiling. They are glad that my Grandmother is so happy, but why is everyone smiling with tears? Suddenly I realize that after Grandmother is married to George, she will have to live with him in his house which is thirty minutes away. Maybe I won’t see her as much. She will live with George and with George’s cat and George’s dog. Grandmother doesn’t even like dogs, and George’s dog is big. She will go to George’s movie theater and George’s grocery store. She will even go to George’s church. I might see her only sometimes instead of all the time and I will miss her and now I’m smiling with tears. Grandmother is very beautiful and I am glad George makes her so happy, but I will miss her. Now I understand and I am happy and sad at the very same time just like my cousin who cries and my cousin who doesn’t, and just like my mom and my aunt.
At the party after the wedding, Grandmother and George dance together. I like the way my grandmother is smiling now. Her tears are gone and she is just having fun. And I know she hasn’t forgotten me. And she won’t ever forget me. But I will miss her anyway. Now everyone is dancing. There are no tears, only smiles. And now I am thinking that maybe I will learn to say and spell George’s funny last name…and Grandmother’s.