down the rabbit hole

family: a blessing, a curse, the learned dysfunction, things and people out of our control, the baggage one carries through life. one woman's story of the craziness that makes up her family. the hurts, disappointments, fun, hilarity, tears, laughter, life and death.

11 March 2006

wedding carnivale

22 years old, two weeks after college graduation. chuckles and i are getting married. forgive the "chuckles", i just can't call him anything else anymore. it fits him so very well......

we'll save the colorful background on chuckles for another time. suffice it to say he grew up a poor kid, his folks farm hands, living in the only white community in this particular area of south dakota. they lived smack dab in the middle of oglala sioux reservation territory. eight miles from wounded knee.

whoever tells you that that battle of wounded knee is over....well, they are plain mistaken. but i digress.

we met in college and dated for two years, living together our senior year and married right after that.

the wedding planning was done over the course of my senior year, by phone and as many visits back to illinois that i could muster. hannah made my dress, which i designed. being a music major at one point in my college career, i picked wonderful music. very non traditional by "normal" weddig standards.

as the year progressed, a rather large white elephant landed in the midst of my planning. my parents separated. actually, dad walked out.

hmmmmmm, not happy news. amidst trying to understand why the split after 37 years together, i also thought about how i should change my wedding plans. my father was to officiate. that would certainly upset my mom.

as the months sped by, mom assured me it was not an issue. dad could officiate. however, when i learned that he was leaving my mom for his most recent affair, i balked. how could i let this man officiate? he'd been living a lie most of his adult life. not the best man to start us on our path of marital bliss (is there such a thing?).

the family discussion to save face and make sure rose is comfortable with the wedding? you see, mom didn't want anyone knowing that my parents were divorcing at my wedding. she didn't want that kind of cloud hanging over the festivities. well, that was clearly a mistake, but we'll get to that.

the family wedding ceremony was now a 3 ring father would offer the homily, my brother would do the vows and the church's pastor would do scripture readings, etc. with 3 pastors officiating, you'd think the marriage would have stuck, huh?

fast forward to early may, after graduation when chuckles and i arrive at my mom's to finish the details and prepare for our wedding. welcome to the carnivale!

my father informs me that sandra (his wife to be) was coming to the wedding.

dad, if she sets foot in the church on my wedding day, i swear i'll call the cops and have her bodily removed. she is not welcome. do you understand?

rose, that's not fair.

no, dad. your request isn't mom, to me, to any of us.

sandra had the nerve to call to ask that i change my mind. needless to say, she got an earful from me about the audacity of her request. i also returned her wedding gift. what a bitch!

chuckles.....poor guy is just standing, mouth agape, taking the drama in. probably wondering what kind of nutcase family he's gotten himself mixed up with. to give the guy some credit, he did soothe the tears that fell regularly through the mess that was our wedding preperation,

hannah calls a week before the wedding:

rose, i fired greg (my soloist).

you did what?!?!?!

well, he dumped me. i don't want him at your wedding.

god damn it, hannah! that's not your call. it's my wedding for chrissake. not yours.

but, in deference to my sister's feelings i called friends of mine. they were a great trio and knew my music. tragedy averted.

the week before my wedding, berdina arrived. she was an old friend of my mom's from dad's first parish in page, nd. she was the acting grandmother as all my grandparents were gone.

one day i was doing lunch dishes. chuckles was running some errands with my brother. i looked at mom with tears in my eyes.

can i ask you a question, mom.

sure honey. what's the matter?

well.....haltingly i ask the question that has haunted me for said that when i was born you didn't want me. is that true?

mom dialed the phone to yell at dad. berdina hauled me to the couch, sat me down and proceeded to tell me how much effort it took my mother to get pregnant with me. she recounted how happy both my parents were when i was born. how scared they were when i got a staph infection and almost died.

dad, in typical fashion, denied he ever said that to me. i got on the extension:

how the hell could you lie about this now?

i don't know what you're talking about rose?

fuck you dad!

i was beginning to rethink the whole wedding.....but gifts were there, our bridal party was arriving, the in-laws were there. i think i spent most of the week prior to my wedding in tears.

three days before the wedding, chuckles and i are walking into the house with his parents. i don't remember where we'd been. as we approach the house, gerry comes storming out. the anger evident.

he gets into his car and literally squeals out of the drivway. i swear he hit 50 before the end of the block.

mom, what's wrong with gerry?

nothing. dont' worry about it.

what's wrong?!?

your dad's threatening to bring sandra again. he's just gone to head that off.

i was beginning to think we should sell tickets to our little wedding. it would certainly provide entertainment to outsiders. the drama was almost funny if you looked at it from the outside. inside....not so amusing.

my maid of honor showed up sick....she had mono. great! my sister fit her dress, so mom suggested that hannah be my maid of honor. oh yeah, she was my first choice! i acquiesed to mom's wishes.

our wedding rehearsal and groom's parents are giving me away together. dad in his robes. well, there's some honesty for you. chuckles and i spend most of our time with our bridal party....all college friends. that helped relieve the family drama tension.

rehearsal done....without any major issues (amazingly enough), we set out to the restaurant for the rehearsal dinner.

my soon to be sister in law: damn del (chuckles' brother), there's so much goddamn silverware here, i don't know what to use. (said loud enough i think the whole restaurant heard).

my father in law chewed tobacco through dinner. as he did through the entire wedding. he gross is that?

the groomsmen got father called his girlfriend and was caught by my brother.

who you playing kissy face with, dad. it certainly can't be your accountant. i don't think he works this late.

dad was pissed as hell at being caught. i didn't need to know, but......why keep that little tidbit from the bride the night before her wedding?

my wedding day itself was lovely, weather wise. that was about it.

the groomsmen and my husband to be were hung over. the husband of one of my bridesmaids took them out for a little bachelor party. they all got pretty wasted and the wedding was at 11 am.

besides the fact that all the men looked green the wedding went off pretty much without a hitch. well, it was hot that day.....i almost fainted in the middle of the ceremony. thank god gerry had smelling salts nearby.

oh, there was one little mother in law:

what the hell kinda music they singing up there? can't understand a word. (it was the ava maria in italian....guess that little prayer went unheard as well).

well, that and my father in law chewing his tobacco and swallowing. sitting there, in his suit from the '40's with a bolo tie. sweet.

we had a small reception at the church than a catered party at mom's. the reception was fine. well except for chuckles changing from his tux shoes to his cowboy boots with the tux (with tails). a great look for those of you planning a wedding.........

the party at moms: we sat to open gifts (chuckles had now added his cowboy hat to the tux and boots). that finished, we started mingling, talking to all our guests.

next thing i know, i can't find my new husband. an old boyfriend who was a dear friend had come to the wedding and i wanted them to meet. we wandered outside. ah, there's my charming husband....changed into jeans and a t-shirt, playing basketball down the street with his groomsmen.

i grabbed a beer, lit a cigarette (my parents had never seen me smoke), sat on our car and talked to eric (the old boyfriend) as the ball game went on.

should that have been a sign to me to

i went to retrieve chuckles as our guests were starting to disperse. we needed to say good bye and pack some last minute stuff for the honeymoon.

as we enter the house, we run into my dad. he has picked this time to move the remainder of his clothes out of the house. my new in laws, my new husband, our friends, old family friends are all there. and he has to move now.

i burst into tears and shut myself in the bathroom. chuckles and gerry get me to open the door. dad passes at that precise moment....

what's wrong, honey?

gerry looks at him in disbelief:

are you kidding? do you even realize what you're doing to her and her day?

well, i needed these things. here's a couple hundred bucks for your honeymoon. i hope you have a good time.

and dad departs as i sob. chuckles pockets the money, and gerry goes after dad.

so, that was the day. my wedding carnivale. one for the books. i look back, shake my head and wonder the marriage didn't survive. look what we had to start with......although, when i think about it, i must admit to laughing. it was such a bizarre couple weeks. and so surreal................


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