This past weekend my father married his beautiful Joy during a brief stay on Block Island. It has been a few days and now that my routine has settled back into a familiar schedule, I find myself looking back on the entire event and reflecting on just how special of a weekend it truly was.
Admittedly I had my reservations about how we were all going to survive under the same roof for more than two days. Harmonious family vacations were never our thing growing up. Our time together seemed to always be marred by aggressive sunburns, bickering, broken down campers, errant fireworks and copious amounts of strawberry yo-hoo vomit (I shudder with that particularly graphic memory) Nevertheless we packed our bags, boarded ferry and plane, and all headed out to the destination wedding on the island.
I had known the ceremony would be beautiful and the scenery picturesque - what I hadn't anticipated was how many simply amazing moments we would share together, how much fun we would have and how blessed I would feel connecting with these people.
As a family, we fell in love with Joy right in step with my father. For me, she was someone I understood loved my Dad for all the right reasons, loved him for exactly who he was - the smart and gentle man, the loving father and grandfather. My father had found a true companion in Joy and it was wonderful to see their natural fondness and affection shape their life together. Our family just absorbed Joy; her kindness, her generosity and her loving nature. In a remarkably short time, it was as if she had always been there pulling together feasts on the holidays, readily joining in our games, cheering our successes, adoring and doting on the grandkids and making all of us feel welcomed and loved. Knowing that both her and my Dad had gone through lengths and no small expense to get us all there together, meant the world to us. The intimacy of sharing their special day was very touching, something I know we will all treasure having been part of.
The fallout from their lovely nuptials was that it brought our families together for a few days, isolated as we were in our temporary home. High in the hills of Block Island, my daughter had unfettered access to her cousins, her Aunts and Uncle and loving grandparents. The kids were amazing. I don't think anyone had to raise their voice or reprimand them all weekend. They chased, swam and played games until they ran out of steam and collapsed together on bean bag chairs and couches. They rallied at the wedding, getting dressed up and posing for all the pictures with wide smiles and no complaints. They were attentive and serious in their ceremonial duties. At the end of the ceremony, my father turned and scooped them up in an embrace, crushing them all together against his chest as they squirmed and giggled.
Later, my Dad would chase them all over the house as they screamed with mock terror and delight - offering up each other up as a sacrifice to his mercilessly tickling fingers. After the boys had gone to bed, my Dad beckoned my sleepy daughter onto his lap where she curled up and cuddled against him, clearly relaxed and contented in the arms of one of the people she loves most in the world.
Aside from the kids, the adults got to spend time enjoying the rarity of leisurely pursuits together. We started our cocktailing early, ate well and stayed up late laughing around the fire pit and dancing on the lawn.
We poised for photos, drank too much, had loud sometimes inappropriate conversations and delighted in the opportunities to be fun and silly. We discovered my sister-in-law is something of a secret 80's hip hop connoisseur who loves to dance and that Joy's daughter Jess is willing and eager to join in on all our crazy ideas and obnoxiously staged photo shoots.
I got to spend time with my sister, a beautiful thing since our lives rarely afford us many opportunities to just hang out and have fun together. She and my husband get along famously well and the brief excursions the three of us took the bluffs and to a remote sunset beach remains some of my most favorite times of the entire weekend.
I write to preserve my most treasured memories in the best way I know how. This weekend was so full of wonderful memories it was hard to pick just a few to highlight in this blog. Certainly there were many I missed, like helping Joy get ready for the wedding or Jess's perfectly tailored ceremony or telling raunchy jokes with my one of my Dad's best friends and even catching a few moments to read in the sun while my daughter and husband slept in. I loved the way I always woke to find Dad in the kitchen churning out breakfast like a short order cook like he did when we were kids. Or the way the girls and I raced into action to when we thought the outside wedding plan might get washed away and the look on Joy's face when she realized we would do whatever it took to make things right for their wedding.
Overall I found myself looking around at the faces of my family, those with whom I share blood and those that are more recent recruits - and thinking....I really love being with these people (even my brother who woke us all up too early and attended at least one meal in just his boxer briefs to my sister's abject horror). These people are my family and they are pretty damn great.
They are my tribe and I do love them.