Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Week 17 of 2016 - Moments in life that define you...

The first time I was asked to be a bridesmaid was for my sister Pam's wedding.  I was 15 years old. She asked my sister Sue and I, two friends, Janet (a friend from college) and Bianca (a friend from high school), Carrie (Mike's sister) and Julie Jacobsen (a friend of the family) as the flower girl. Pam and Mom made all our dresses. They were made of a beautiful blue Taffeta with a pretty flower trim at the empire waist and a puff sleeve.

All the activities that lead up to the wedding were fun.  It was at the rehearsal that I realized that I was really going to have to do something here ...all by myself.  Up to that point, I do not think that I thought about the fact that I would be walking down the aisle of the myself.  I do not remember ever going to a formal wedding before this, so I just did not know!  

As the minister instructed us, I had this wave of giddy nervousness take over.  " You want me to do what?", I thought..."all by myself?"  I had never stood up in front of a group and done anything alone before.  I was the third child of six kids.  I had never done anything alone before in my life and this time their would be an audience. I did not like it when I got singled out in school to answer a question ....and heaven forbid if I did not know the answer.

Rehearsal at the church
So we went through the rehearsal of the ceremony and I had to walk by myself down the aisle.  There were maybe 20 people there, all family, really close friends and people in the wedding.  As we girls stood out side the sanctuary door in line, my stomach started to knot.  I kept trying to tell myself I was just hungry.  My brother, Matt, was the ring bearer and at rehearsal it became apparent that he may not want to perform his role either. Everyone else seemed to was rehearsal after all..when it was my turn, I was a bundle of nerves... thinking "How would I ever walk down the aisle tomorrow in my new shoes...".  After completed the rehearsal and I was a bit relieved to learn that I would be escorted to the back of the church at the end of the ceremony by one of the groomsmen.

Dinner at Vanoff's

During the rehearsal dinner, the tension was relieved a bit.  It was at Vanoff's Restaurant.  The food was great and the two families and the wedding party blended well.  We, "the Smith's" made our way to Imlay City and the reality began to set in once again. When we arrived home I went to bed but tossed and turned all night long.  I worried I would trip and fall in my new shoes or that the dress was too long or I would walk too fast or slow or I would stand in the wrong place...or I would faint! I had weird dreams once I did fall asleep.

Lunch before the wedding
The wedding day arrived and things did not get better.  Mom made open-faced ham and cheese sandwiches on hamburger broiled them in the oven so the ham would heat and the cheese would melt. I think she saw it in the Better Homes and Garden Magazine or Family Circle Magazine.  They were all the rage at the time.  I remember they were made often for church events by all the ladies.  I could hardly eat. I felt certain I would throw up. I had never felt like this before. I remember Mom asking me if I was OK, "Yes"  I said and I went off to my room.

In the mean time, Matt has had several melt downs.  He is six years old. He wanted to wear the tuxedo that was rented for him but Mom says, "If you are not going to walk down the aisle with Julie, you can not wear it!"  "Are you going to walk with Julie",  Mom kept asking..."NO",  Matt  exclaimed.  "Then you are not wearing the Tux!", Mom told him. "But Mom!"  he cried! Mom quickly found Matt something else to where. All the while I am upstairs wanting to get out of my own responsibilities.  Knowing that I have to do this, I am old enough, I must be brave....but the knot in my stomach got tighter.

Janet and Pam as we are leaving for the Church
 I remember all of us getting in the cars for the ride to the church in Romeo.  But I honestly do not remember the ride or the "getting ready at the church".  We took our dresses...we have pictures of all the other girls with curlers in their hair but I don't remember if I did that too..I do remember trying to walk up the stairs in new shoes (stubby 2 inch heels...not spikes like the girls wear today!) once we were all ready.  I was so frightened.  I remember being beside myself with fear as I waited for my turn to walk down the aisle watching the others who went before me.

Jan's "deer in the headlights look"
When it was my turn, I was numb, frozen " like a deer in headlights... " Go ahead..." Dad told me. It was at that moment that he realized, for the first time, that I was afraid. I took a step and another.... the walk down the aisle felt like I was walking the length of a football field.  I could tell the church was full of people.  I knew the faces but they were a blur....All I could think was, "Where am I suppose to stand?  Keep looking forward!  Don't look at anyone...Just keep walking and don't trip!" I found my place at the front of the church and the first person I looked at was my Grandpa Smith. He winked at me and silently said "Good job!" with a huge smile!  "Wow" I thought, "I did it".

the ceremony...
I remember thinking during the ceremony, "Who thought of this? Why do they do this?"  Not that I question marriage...I do not..Just the production and pageantry of it all. It was on this day that I decided that I was more comfortable being  "a person of the crowd" and "the middle child of six children".  I fit perfectly where I was at.

I have been in several weddings since then and two of my own which were both very low scale and perfect for me! During high school, I performed on the forensics team which helped me to conquer the "stomach knotting" fear.  During my career, I was called upon on several occasion to speak in front of an audience and eventually I felt comfortable with it as long as I was well prepared.  To this day...I am more comfortable if I am not the center of attention. I am still the middle child.