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  • annedouglas8

And The Bride Was Blessed With Glue

I don’t enjoy being the center of attention, the main attraction. Today it’s impossible for me to avoid the crowds. The atmosphere drips with euphoria, cheers erupting from every corner. A large white tent rests on a grass field that dips slightly, running parallel to my parent’s garden. One-hundred white balloons fill two acres of green space and I wonder whose chore it was to secure them. The breeze off the Sakonnet River could easily carry them off. On the tables under the tent, tiny bouquets are delicately arranged as centerpieces. My aunt creates them early this morning while the house is quiet. A necessity once my mother and I realize our oversight. Too busy laboring over the flowers I will carry as I walk down the church’s aisle on my father’s arm. My bridesmaid’s color scheme is simple, white roses with one blue hydrangea. They compliment the floral pattern of their Laura Ashley dresses. I’m caught in conversation when a familiar hand reaches for mine. My mother. She grasps my left hand, turns it over in hers, inspecting my ring more closely. Her smile is wide, there are tears in her eyes.

“Anne, I can’t believe it! You’re married.” She leans in to kiss me, careful not to smudge my makeup or wrinkle my gown. A sea of guests surround me and I lose sight of my mother in the vast crowd. In order to preserve this moment I purchase yellow boxes, disposable Kodak cameras, and place them on every surface. I survey the crowd and note they are being put to good use. I’m searching for my husband, I place my right hand above my eyes and call out “Tim,” my husband of only an hour. The professional photographer is busy. He’s corralling individuals and families, assembling them in pre-determined locations where the light is best. I choose my mother’s flower bed as a back drop, the early summer produces a plethora of colors that provide a brilliant contrast against my white dress. Tim and I pose in front of a stone wall, one rebuilt by my father. In the distance lie hundreds of acres of farmland. By August they become perfect rows of corn to be harvested and fed to the dairy cows. I’m grateful for today’s weather, fortunate the billowy clouds will not produce rain. Their presence provides much needed shade for the men who donn tuxedos and suits. They’re sweating and drink cold beer from bottles buried in large metal tubs covered in ice. There’s an orderly fashion to the reception but I’m unsure who’s in charge. The music stops, the band perhaps taking a break. In the distance I hear the familiar clink of silverware on glass and witness my father take center stage. He’s preparing to give a toast. He stands before two-hundred guests, his flute of champagne in his left hand and a microphone in his right. He’s in his distinctive role as father of the bride. I cannot remember his introduction but recall the word “glue” carefully woven into his soliloquy. Apparently I am the glue that holds our family together. I think about Elmer’s Glue, a staple in classrooms from my early childhood. Its texture, sticky and binding yet strangely comforting to the touch. The tenderness of his words occupy space in my mind and heart for the past twenty-nine years.When I find myself immersed in the memory of his speech I feel undeserving. It’s intensity, uncomfortable, for I am the center of attention. Compliments make me uneasy and feel misdirected, particularly when my father is the messenger. This man’s knowledge far surpasses his PhD in physics. He’s humble, easily embarrassed, particularly his grandchildren cry out, "Grandpa, you’re the smartest person in the whole world.” From my perspective they speak the truth. He chooses his words selectively and is succinct, because for him, less is more. My father does not ramble simply to hear his own voice or to feed his ego. He is soft spoken and at times a bit shy. His six foot frame is solid and claims the attention of each guest. Those who know him anticipate his poetic prose. His deep voice is gentle and soothing as if he were rocking a baby while singing a lullaby. His delivery is perfection, pausing as a comedian might to allow for laughter. He is unrehearsed. His message to me so eloquently aired for all to hear. I feel myself blush. I’m crying and I catch my mother's eye as she reaches for the closest thing to a tissue, the napkin in her lap. She exudes pride and I wonder if it’s directed at my dad or at me. My father compliments my strengths and what I mean to my mother and to him. He does not casually donate affirmations of a job well done, therefore when he does, one knows it’s genuine. I work tirelessly to recreate his toast in my mind but I can not. This both frustrates and saddens me. I recently asked him,

“Dad, I’ve been thinking about your toast on my wedding day. Did you save any notes you may have scribbled at random while you prepared for that day? Anything to help me reassemble that moment? I long to remember it’s beauty. “No Anne, I’m sorry. I never wrote anything down, the words I spoke came straight from my heart. My dad says I’m the Glue. It’s cohesive without being the center of attention.


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