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QUINTESSENCE

A Stitch of Love

A MARRIAGE RING
The ring so worn as you behold,
So thin, so pale, is yet of gold:
The passion such it was to prove;
Worn with life's cares, love yet was love.

- George Crabbe

In the last of three beautiful weddings this year, on Saturday we will join family as my younger brother celebrates the wedding of his oldest, a daughter. My brother is the second among my siblings and I to have a child marry, and the ceremony defines once more the transition of generations. I remember the event of my niece's birth, and the feeling among the four of us (my brother, two sisters and I) that in the birth of our children we were laying a true milestone: that family builds the future. Educations complete - marriages and careers, a home, children. Now that niece with the big smile and infectious giggle is to be a bride, beginning her own adult journey. The foundation of a new generation.

Our parents are not alive to enjoy or appreciate this moment. This gives each wedding a particular poignancy, the sense of a premature shift in roles. It is up to us, newly middle-aged parents and future grandparents, to stand as unshakable pillars. To brace the uncertainty and evolution of the next generation's first steps into marriage, parenthood…taking on the challenges of life. Will we be good in-laws? Surprised grandparents, self-conscious, perhaps unprepared to be the wise, supportive elders our grandparents were to us? How do we step into such large shoes? Dazzle our grown children's lives with that same bracing unconditional love and faith? Echoes of courage in our hearts, embedded in the memory of our own crossing from "I Will" to "I Do" and "I Shall," we stand proudly at the side of our sons and daughters as they take the hand of the one they promise to love and cherish. We blink back tears, remembering first smiles, tiny arms wrapped tight around our necks.

A wedding celebrates the day we fully let our children go. No longer the smallest or the first stitch in the line, the thread slips forward and loops the future in. Love darns new hearts into the family tapestry. We smile in joy.

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