Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Love, Joy and Respect – A Summer Wedding on Lopez Island

Roses in the garden
It is little more than a week since my husband Jeff and I celebrated the wedding of our second child, daughter Sasha to a wonderful man Dustin.  Four years ago we experienced the same feelings of love and joy as our first child, son David married an extraordinary woman Katy.  The two weddings were different but the same positive emotions filled the air.  Feelings of love and joy and just plain fun permeated both ceremonies and all the celebrations before and after.  Marriage isn’t for everyone but for some of us it is a powerful and rewarding institution.  That is true for Jeff and me.  As we look at our two children and their chosen partners, we see in them the same love and joy and very importantly, the same respect for each other that have sustained Jeff and me for almost 40 years.  We feel very lucky.

A refurbished lantern for the deck
The picnic table gets a new coat of paint

As many of you who read my blog know, I’ve not posted since returning to the United States from Brazil in late April.  It’s been a hectic three months – re-connecting with our friends and family in Seattle and on Lopez Island, weeding, planting and pruning our overgrown gardens, and preparing for Sasha’s wedding on Lopez Island – everything from dress fittings and mani/pedis and travel logistics for folks unfamiliar with the Washington State ferry system to painting picnic tables, spreading 5 cubic yards of wood chips and repairing and installing outside lights at our Lopez property in the weeks leading up to the wedding.  
Times Square, New York City
During the same time I was also busy with my “normal” retirement routine: keeping up my exercise regime of circuit training, biking and walking – all the more important as we age, as well as taking a most helpful class in how to revise a work of fiction, continuing work on my books-in-progress and on my volunteer “job” as president of my homeowner’s association.  In between, I managed short trips to New York City to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday and recovery from cancer, to California and to Long Beach to celebrate Jeff’s and my wedding anniversary.  Whew! 

Blueberries ready to ripen behind bird nets
Now, with the wedding behind me, and Pacific Northwest summer at its height, I plan to post blogs more regularly again and harvest some of the fruits and vegetables in our gardens.  There is certainly a lot to contemplate as we careen into a highly political season in the United States and the continuing political and economic challenges in Brazil, not to mention Brazil’s hosting of the Olympic Games.  It has been a tough few months in both countries and in the world as terrorism and gun violence has resulted in too many unnecessary deaths.  The deep sadness of these deaths reminds me how important it is to live each day fully and open up our hearts to each other.

The bride and her dad practice their entrance
One aspect of our daughter’s wedding that I greatly enjoyed was the opportunity to speak during the ceremony.  As my family knows I love to talk!  Sasha and Dustin invited six people, including their two mothers, to participate in the wedding ceremony by reflecting on specific words they chose as having relevance to their life together.   My assigned word was respect.  Each person’s presentation was different and delightful – ranging from poems to prose to song.  I’d like to share what I said about respect… a practice that I believe is often forgotten.  Mutual respect is a necessary component of a successful marriage and, in my opinion, a mandatory part of all our relationships both personal and public.  Perhaps if we practiced respect for each other there would be fewer senseless killings.  

Here is what I said at the wedding:
When Sasha and Dustin asked me to talk about respect at their wedding all I could think of was Aretha Franklin's song.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T came out when I was in high school (in Philadelphia). It was 1965 and the idea of women having independent rights, equal rights to men was revolutionary and just penetrating my consciousness.  Post World War Two was not a time of female liberation. All around me I saw men controlling everything - money; businesses; families; politics. The idea of getting respect from any man let alone a boyfriend was very appealing to my 16-year-old self. It turned out that the whole concept of mutual respect between a man and a woman was even more important and more fundamental than I realized at the time.

Ten years later, by the time I met Sasha's dad, and 21 years later when Sasha was born, I was a committed feminist. Respect was a baseline condition for any love relationship as far as I was concerned. Sure, love and mutual trust are important - but in my book, respect for each other is the critical element to a successful relationship. 

Truth is you don't know what's going to happen in the future. That’s why respect is so important.  No matter how close and "in love" two people are, no one can predict their partner's behavior or feelings. They won't and don’t always coincide with your own feelings.  Sometimes you disagree with your partner. That's why you have to respect the other person. You need an intrinsic belief that the other person's thoughts and actions are worthy of respect even if you don't understand them.  Respect gives you the patience to listen, to explain, to debate.  Maybe one or both of you will come to a different decision or take a different action.  Respect for each other gives you the confidence to live with, and explore your differences and stay open to new opportunities. No two people will always see eye to eye.  But having respect for each other enables you to be open to your partner's different opinions. Respect for each other makes life and happiness together possible.

I ended my piece with a haiku:

Respect is
The place you want to be
Where all the things you love
Are free.

Rudbeckia shine in my garden
The wedding and the days before and after were full of love and joy as well as fresh air and relaxation.  So many of our friends and family helped make it all happen.  Together we made endless great meals, chopping salsa and making salads; baking brownies, barbequing burgers and boiling fresh crab.  It was a perfect opportunity for us to share Lopez Island with our extended family and friends.  The island shone – a rainbow over the beach; brilliant sunsets; rolling fields full of Queen Anne’s lace, grazing sheep and haystacks; a memorable barbeque at the State Park; bike rides and beach walks; rock climbs and kayak rides; even a bald eagle flew over in the middle of the ceremony.  We are lucky to have this beautiful place as part of our family’s life.  We welcome our new son-in-law and his family into our expanding clan.  As one of my sister’s said after the wedding “We shouldn’t just wait for the next wedding to come back.  Let’s just plan to come back.”  I hope that happens soon.  Thanks Sasha and Dustin for a wonderful week.
A ferry leaves the Lopez Island dock


  1. Lovely! I am so happy to have rediscovered Lopez and to have enjoyed friends and family, all convening to celebrate Sasha and Dustin and life and love! Great pics. Blog on!

    1. Thanks Polly- it was wonderful to have everyone! Lopez Island is a special place.