My family enjoys extravaganzas. It was my husband Vic’s style. If you can’t celebrate in a big way, why bother? I remember my surprise birthday party staged by Vic in 1968. Friends walked down the hill toward our Cayuga Lake house with candles, food, gifts, and a birthday cake. Vic had rented a tour boat, so after the feast, we all went for a midnight boat ride.
October 3 was book launch day for Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief. Enough action, wouldn’t you think? Not for my family, but then I hadn’t imagined them traveling from North Carolina and California for a two-hour event.
“You don’t have to. It’s such a long trip,” I said. Their enthusiasm was stronger than my resistance.
My younger son Anthony called a few weeks before launch date. “Hey, Mom. I want to ask Veronica to marry me on our land. Is that too much on your big weekend?”
“Wow, does she know?”
“No, it’s a surprise, but an artist is making the ring.”
“It’s OK with me. Go for it.”
Anthony called again a week later. “Hey, Mom, I want to do an art installation in the woods, a piece by the artist who made the ring. Is that OK with you? It won’t be a big deal. Veronica and I will fly to Detroit and drive home with Keenan and the art work.”
“I trust you,” I said with no idea what I was trusting. An art installation? What would it look like? Probably beautiful. At least unobjectionable. I admit my trust was tinged with doubt.
They all arrived Thursday evening. I made a pot of their favorite minestrone soup and bought some wine. I met the artist Kenan Nielbock before falling asleep near midnight.
On Friday morning, I prepared notes for the reading while everyone slept. As they ate breakfast, I heard them mention the pyramid in my barn with a Wadjet Eye. Really? Keenan didn’t know I studied Egyptian Goddesses for three years with my women’s mythology class. He had no idea it would have such special significance for me. We did a high five and went to view the pyramid. Exquisite. Creative. Powerful.
I left for the book party early to give myself plenty of time. I was almost at Damiani Wine Cellars when I remembered my red shoes. Who cares? It’s only shoes. Ignoring the voice of practicality, I turned around and drove back up the hill. As I pulled the shoes out of my upstairs closet, Veronica walked out of the bedroom she and Anthony shared.
“Anthony asked me to marry him,” she said between sobs.
“Was it a surprise?” I asked.
“Yes. Completely.” I didn’t have to ask if she was happy. We wrapped our arms around each other and wept while Anthony watched. He was teary, too.
Plenty to celebrate that night. Glad I remembered my red shoes.
How does your family celebrate life and each other? You’ll enjoy reading about the spectacular wedding extravaganza created by family and friends for David and Liz. For more about Anthony and Veronica’s first visit to my home, read Cooking a Bowl of Italian Heaven. I’ll write about the art installation next time. How could I possibly resist?
If you live near Ithaca, NY, please join me for a Leaning into Love reading and book signing at Buffalo Street Books on Oct. 12 at 3 p.m. Buffalo Street Books will donate 10% of profits to Hospicare and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County.