“Time makes us bolder, children get older. I’m getting older too.”—Stevie Nicks
We recently spent a glorious weekend with our sons attending the wedding of their childhood friend Katherine in beautiful Ithaca, NY. Our boys first met Katherine in middle school and have remained fast friends all these years. She considers us her second parents, I consider her the daughter of my heart (DOMH). Katherine aka Kitty and Sister, joins the ranks of Bri and Anna as DOMH. God blessed us with boys, and fate gifted us the girls. Adam H completes our family circle as Adam’s bethrohed.
Fantastic is the best adjective I can conjure to describe the overall experience. And poignant as I realized that I have evolved into the next phase of my life—the matriarchal parent.
We kicked off the weekend as Mark and I drove with Alex while The Adams drove in from Michigan. Reminiscent of our family trips, Alex occupied the back seat and I felt the comfort of those long ago moments, close quarters and anticipation for the fun ahead.
We met at the Ithaca Beer Garden with joyous hugs—it had been nearly 9 months since we’d laid eyes and wrapped arms around each other. Seeing the Brudders D’Ag embrace sent my mother’s heart soaring. As did watching them do their twin thing over the next few hours.
Our Air B&B was truly a paradise! The owners Jan and Mark have created a haven for visitors with a spectacular garden and landscaping framing the bucolic hills of the Ithaca countryside. Heirloom roses, hydrangeas, sunflowers, fruit trees and the chicken ‘hotel’ delighted our eyes and noses. Even the rain storm that blew in across the meadows was a treat as we sat snug in the covered porch.
Our sons went to the Friday night pre-wedding party, where each of their Jamesville Dewitt friends asked “Are your parents coming to the wedding?” When Adam shared this, I was filled with happy anticipation as I loved when they all piled into our home—a boisterous group eating everything in site, making forts in the living room and hanging out with us.
Our merry band primped and dressed for the wedding to take place at 6 p.m. in the farmers market pavilion. Adam brought his PMC bow tie for Mark and we watched with amusement as he followed the YouTube tying instructions. Another touchstone to yesteryear as the roles reversed. Mark knotted the boys’ neckties before formal events when they were small. To his chagrin, Mark discovered he’d left dress shoes at home. His grey kicks wouldn’t cut it so we raced to the nearest Kohl’s as Adam H texted us shoe choices.
We made it to the wedding with 15 minutes to spare.
We happily greeted the JD boys turned men as we joined the party. The years unraveled as I hugged these “kids.” Their eagerness to recapture a bit of the past tugging at my heart. Though it had been 15 years since I’d seen them, time ebbed away. We all look a bit different, wearing the years that passed, but my heart instantly knew these dear ones. The original kindergarten group were our boys, John and Brandon. Think of that—27 years as friends! John hadn’t changed a bit, still the nice guy and flying solo. Brandon beamed with pride as I held his 3-month old son and greeted his wife. Gibbsy and his wife shared pictures of their one-year old. Ian and his wife gave big hugs. Ryan and his girlfriend, and Alex B. and his husband rounded out the group. Then of course, there were the stars of the evening, radiant bride Katherine and smiling groom Greg. Katherine’s mom Nancy embraced us with beaming with joy.
Over the course of the evening, I paused several times to reorient myself. I was in this quicksilver time warp where I live in steamy Baltimore, traveled back to splendorous New York State, once worked in Syracuse and now stood in Ithaca as we caught up on the decade and half that transpired. Ithaca is so familiar as we often visited as a family and being with the JD kids seemed a throwback to our DeWitt lives.
The wedding was sublime and so fun! Katherine and Greg are not fussy people and eschewed some of the more staid wedding traditions. No cake (gluten issues) but scrumptious ice cream treats and assorted pastel macaroons. No bouquet or garter toss. The guest book is one of their favorite vegetarian cookbooks where we could leave our wishes—which is an brilliant idea I intend to copy. The ceremony included a family of ducks strolling among the couple and officiant (their yoga instructor). One took a nip at Alex’s ankle as he waddled past enroute to the main event. Hilarious!
There was a well rehearsed, father-daughter dance and a medley of barbershop quartet numbers from the bride’s family and friends. I danced with Kitty and my sons, taking turns spinning each other about as Mark captured it all for posterity. Another throwback, dancing in our living room where we all grooved to the tunes.
As the evening progressed, I stood back often to watch my sons mingle with their school friends, reliving their memories and sharing current stories. My heart filled as I watched them smile and laugh at jokes reserved just for them. I have become the ‘elder’ my own mother once was in my youth. Not a bad place to occupy, but decidedly different. As the hands-on mother, I knew their friends’ routines and stories so intimately. The chasm of time and geography has eclipsed this intimacy that even social media cannot bridge.
Mark and I headed out, bidding the couple a long happy marriage, inviting them to come visit us once again. The Boys stayed on intent on enjoying each moment. Much later at our B&B, I heard Adam & Alex giggling like little boys as they hovered over their phones. Their joy penetrated my sleepy haze reminding me of this oh so familiar childhood scene.
The next morning we had a most delicious breakfast on the patio at the B&B, courtesy of the chickens and the hosts’ supplies. I opted to cook because we wanted to savor the conversation and the view. I revel in being the queen bee of my little circle, enjoying their obvious satisfaction of the comfort food laid out.
When it was time to leave, I gave big hugs to the Adams but no tears this time as we’ll be visiting them in their new Michigan home in three weeks. Still, my heart longed for them and our family time not to end. When I shared this with my beloved, how I missed living in New York, and being envious of Katherine’s family who all live near each other, I phrased it as homesick. “Not homesick Tonyie—time sick. For the life we had in Syracuse when we were all together and watching them grow up,” he replied.
Smart husband he. Mothering is my very best work ever as the Boys and their friends will attest. After all, we were the parents their friends were eager to see.
My sons have gone their separate ways, pursuing their passions in cities suited to that. We gather as schedules permit—mostly at holidays and celebrations. We are fortunate that Alex lives near us so we get our Boy-Fix regularly. Yet, I pine for the New York years we shared, in a little yellow house flanked by our own gorgeous gardens, house ringing with the ruckus of friends. For the familiar towns and faces. The comfort of our lives entwined with the everyday business of living.
Don’t know if we’ll ever have that proximity again given the Boys’ careers and our own future retirement. It’s every parent’s dilemma with multiple children— where to move. For now, I’m so very glad there are more weddings, reunions and holidays ahead to be with my Boys.