A glimpse of me, the bride …

Dr T and I were living together before we decided to married.  Having lived overseas for several years I just assumed it would be a Western style wedding.  I bought dozens of bridal magazines and set about planning my dress.  Dr T did not comment on any of this.  One day curled up in a chair I absentmindedly asked him what kind of dress did he think I should get.  It was like he was waiting for that question.  His response was immediate.  A sari!  It was not what I expected from my Anglo Canadian partner.  I had worn a sari only once before.  It was on a special birthday and my mother was in Perth to help me wear the hot pink and turquoise silk sari.  I didn’t know it at the time, but he was completely smitten seeing me in one.  He was even more smitten that the sari could be unravelled in one swift movement.  I can be quite oblivious to the obvious sometimes!

Now I’m not sure if you know much about saris.  There are many, many styles worn in different parts of India.  In my part of world (central India), a sari is 6.5 yards long, worn with pleats in the front and a shawl like drape over the left shoulder.  A woman wears a skirt underneath into which the sari is tucked into.  She wears a blouse that reaches to about the last rib.  The belly area is exposed (abs in one’s youth was a bonus!).  In my mother’s day, underwear was optional!  The whole package was Dr T’s dream come true.

So sari it was.

We lived in the UK for several months before getting married as Dr T was on sabbatical there.  I stopped off in India, my only visit in decades as I wanted to buy a sari from my home town.  In those days shopping for saris was an experience like no other.  My  mother and entourage were ushered into an air conditioned room, the salesman was seated on a carpeted floor, a man on the mezzanine level threw down bolts of saris, the silks in the brightest of colours, flying through the air.  Indian brides (non-Christian brides) wear bright colours on their wedding day but Christian brides opt for cream with a coloured border.  Seated in the middle of a sea of rainbows, I could not make up my mind!  Everything I looked at was gorgeous and I bought half a dozen or so.  For my wedding, I ended up liking the border of one sari but the heavy cream silk of another was outrageously luxurious and I had to have that, too.  The salesman had known me when I was a child.  He was thrilled I had come from Australia and wanted to make the sale on the condition I sent him a picture of me in the sari, so he could put it in the shop window.  He offered to remove the border I liked and transfer it on the silk I loved.  I couldn’t have been a happier bride.  And … Dr T was an even happier groom.

On reflection it was ironic that I wore such an opulent outfit.  The wedding could not have been more low key.  We got married in the front yard under the gum tree on a Saturday.  The minister was from the Salvation Army and completing his Masters and known to Dr T from university.  We had 12 guests, including us, and enjoyed a BBQ after the brief ceremony.  We did have Handel’s music being played softly in the background that signalled celebration to anyone within ear shot.  We had an enormous wedding cake that Dr T and I demolished over the year.  As we exchanged our vows our neighbours came home from grocery shopping and as they unloaded their car, they tried desperately to keep their little children quiet and not disturb us.  We went back to work on Monday, without fan fare.

Our relationship lasted over 21 years.  I have known him for over 40, and most of those years have been amicable post divorce.  I am in a good place.  I know he is too.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to Word of the Day Challenge – Opulent

Letter to my son



When you and C set the wedding date it was a special moment for the families.  Unfortunately, my inner mother-in-law zilla surfaced as well and my mantra “You’ve got to have this, you’ve got to have that … it’s a wedding after all!” became the norm for me.  You were patient and eventually had to curb my enthusiasm in a steady, quiet voice, “Mum, it’s our day, the best gift you could give is be happy for us on the day”.  You went on to add the wedding you and C had in mind, was one of fun and laughter and one that represented you as a couple best.  You had been to many weddings before and did not want a ‘cookie cutter’ event.  We reached a compromise on the food and drinks and you and C and your ‘bridal committee’ took over the rest.

You let me organise the rehearsal.  I was going to have a champagne brunch at home where I had carte blanc but I had to squeeze in one last work trip, so we decided to go to Crowne Plaza for a meal instead.  It was such a lovely lunch and I got to meet some of your friends I had not met before.  Everyone decided to have a small bet as we walked through the casino.  I got caught up in the moment.  I fed the machine $20 and it sang ding, ding, ding.  It was the joke of the day because you know I loathe gambling.  I was so embarrassed that I refused to go to the cashier and carried the coins in my bag.  Foolish me!  Fifty five one dollar coins is a heavy load and I ended up with a cramped arm that night!

I’m not sure why I was concerned about the wedding plans.  You and your friends were part of the anime and cosplay community since university days.  You had planned big conventions before including organising everything for visiting international stars.  After considering all the usual wedding venues, you and C wanted the reception at Perth Zoo.  The private lawn area is beautiful and under the boughs of tall trees with constant birdsong.  With all the green, you decided to surprise your bride with a floral backdrop.  It was just the right choice instead of all white flowers.  You declined the offer of a professional photographer because it was “a plugged wedding” and everyone was invited to take pictures and upload to a special social media hashtag.  There was a Bridal Bingo for the photographs uploaded.  There were selfies galore at the wedding and much laughter.  You chose to have an Instamatic corner and invited guests to take a polaroid picture and pin it on a board with a personal message.  I watched the fun your friends had with the polaroids pics.  I have looked at all the pictures and selfies online and read their remarks.  You and C knew best.  Judging from the comments, your guests are still raving about your wedding, how unique it was and what a fun time they had.thumb_IMG_4939_1024.jpg
The choice of celebrant was a bone of contention between us.  I saw the solemnity of the moment.  You and C resisted having a stranger step into the role.  You both wanted the moment to be inclusive and reflect who you are as a couple.  The celebrant was your friend and former roommate who knew both of you best.  Yes, he was hilarious and perfect for the tone of the wedding.  Your friends roared with laughter, clapped and cheered as you both took your first steps into a new journey.  It was what your friends expected.  You knew this better than me!thumb_IMG_4985_1024
Indoors the only white material at this wedding was the table linen and overhead canopy.  The only formality was the bridal table.  The rest of the evening was as you planned it.  It was perfect.  It reflected the fun child like spirit you both enjoy.thumb_IMG_5008_1024.jpg
This was one of the compromises you as a couple graciously allowed me.  The food was a mix of cocktail canapes and high tea, with a generous drink tab.   I’m still baffled how we all felt so satiated despite everything being miniature.  I am even more baffled how a very young crowd consumed less than 10% of the drinks tab and still had the best time!  Your friends are awesome!  I have never seen such a big crowd of twentysomethings enjoying themselves while taking selfies, dancing, videoing, and thoroughly enjoying being in the moment, cameras in hand.  It left your father feeling and looking bemused.thumb_IMG_4975_1024.jpg
When you stated it was everything fairy tale.  I envisioned something quite different! thumb_IMG_4976_1024.jpgThe stickers and giveaways were funny and made by your talented artist friend. thumb_IMG_4997_1024.jpgI was confused and could not envision what C had planned for the centre pieces.  Each table centre piece was a theme from childhood favourites – Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast etc.  It was such fun that the guests went table to table to check them out instead of staying seated.   All made by C herself, sourcing items from vintage shops.  They were better and more fun than the baby’s breath and peonies I had envisioned.
As C lost her mother at a young age and was raised by “Granny”,  I thought we would go shopping for a dress without a budget and enjoy  ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ moments.  But no, C wanted to make her own dress and wanted something she could recycle.  Her dress was vintage lace that she unpicked entirely and created her own.  She wanted to be a princess for a day.  She did and it suited her personality.  No one would have expected her to wear anything else.  Her hair tendrils were in her late mother’s favourite colours. I cried when I saw her walking up the aisle to you.

I won the round with the cake!  “You can’t have a wedding without a cake!” I lamented and you two resisted saying no one eats cake these days.  In the end C made her own cake and refused a conventional one that would have cost me $$$.  I’m so glad you had one.  The crowd roared when you cut it.  thumb_IMG_4960_1024.jpg
C’s tears flowed freely in the arms of an internet friend from Sydney.  A surprise you kept secret.  This moment of joy, is yours too.thumb_IMG_5012_1024
So it is all over now.  Life begins for you and your wife.

As I cut the apron strings there are a few things you ought to know.  I learned to be a better mother because of you.  Never wanting to be separated from me, was a challenge for us both.  Then came the fussy choices about food, another challenge for a mother who loved to cook.  I dug deeper and deeper and found a special joy in being a mother to you.  I found a reservoir of patience, understanding and love that I never knew was there and I access it to this day.  Raising you on my own should have been a bigger challenge but it hasn’t been.  You exemplify what is good about youth.  You are forward thinking, inclusive, community minded, mindful about resources and have a vision for a better world.  And above all, you value family.  Your dad, sister and I have been privileged to share life’s journey with you.  The lead up to your wedding and on the day itself, I realised, there are times when a parent needs to step back and let your children be who they are.  This realisation was a joy equalled to watching you take faltering steps in your first pair of shoes.

If your wedding is anything to go by, may your journey in life as C’s husband, be filled with laughter, love, fun and surprises.  Be happy.  Be together.  Be forgiving.  Be healthy.  And, may you both always be surrounded by the love and laughter of family and friends as you did on your wedding day.

Your loving mum

And, yes,

a dawn bird



A wedding in the family

It’s the morning after the reception.  The bridal party is ‘debriefing’ in the other room.  My home is filled with voices and laughter.  I’m sipping champagne as I write.

Do marriages extend families or divide them?  Having straddled two cultures for most of my life, I’m inclined to borrow the best from both cultures I’ve been exposed to.  I now have a daughter-in-law and it fills me with emotion.  I am committed to loving her, as if she is my own.  A special privilege and one I don’t take lightly.thumb_IMG_4967_1024.jpgIt was a joyous occasion.  The best thing I did was step out of the picture and let the night be what the young couple envisaged for themselves.  By all accounts, it was everything and more what friends expected of them.  There were no dramas as seen in ‘reality TV’.  Just a lot of laughter, at times chaos, and oh yes, the rings were left on the bench at home.  There was a quick reaction from others who offered theirs, and most guests thought it was part of the lighthearted fun!  It wasn’t!  The celebrant (a friend of the couple) covered the gaffe with aplomb!thumb_IMG_4938_1024There were tiny personal touches like the confetti made from cut out fallen leaves.DSCN9679.jpg
The bride looked stunning. thumb_IMG_4962_1024.jpgMuch like me, she believes fairy tales can come true, so the theme of her dress was princess.  She bought a vintage dress, handpicked it and created a dress she always dreamed of.  She floated down the grassed aisle like she walked on clouds.thumb_IMG_4980_1024.jpgAnd, yes, there was cake!  Also made by the bride.  DSCN9695.jpgMy daughter was part of the group made up of “best people”, not gender specific of best man and bridesmaid.  It was a special night that included their father and his current partner.  I’m sure he felt as proud of them, as I felt.  I was even more proud of my son for acknowledging his father’s partner because she has been a presence in their lives for over ten years.  For a brief moment, we were family again, the boundaries set years ago, made seamless by the joy of the occasion.

I believe my family has grown.  Today, I am richer because of it.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


A memory worth keeping …

I recently lost three maternal extended family members within a period of months.  The only surviving member of my mother’s family lives in Canada  She went to the USA in the early 1960s and after she graduated, moved to Canada.  I lived with her for a few years when I was in my teens and still keep in touch.

The passing that impacted me the most was an uncle by marriage.  He was the husband of a favourite aunt who I’ve written about in another post.  He was our rock in a large, loud, loving but somewhat dysfunctional family system that warred over a handsome legacy left by my grandfather.  My uncle died recently.  Right to the end, he was still cooking for family and visitors, still painting and still genteel in his grooming.  I miss him.  Last year I wrote him a letter for his birthday.  His preteen grandson read it to him while Uncle C was ironing his own shirt, in his nineties.  That’s the kind of man he was.

“I was four years old and a flower girl at Aunty N’s wedding. My dress was of pastel organza, my shoes were mary janes with flowers cut out in the leather across the foot. On my head a crown of tiny rose buds. My head in those days was encased in natural curls, which delighted adults. I remember how I felt more than what I wore. How I felt is a memory you generated and I have kept.

At the reception you were quietly busy with the setting up of the wedding cake. When it was time for the bridal couple to cut it, the lights were turned low and the guests hushed by anticipation. The cake, covered with iced pink roses and fronds of fresh fern lit up from hidden fairy lights. At eye level, to the four year old flower girl, it was a magic mountain. Your creativity is my earliest recollection of experiencing sheer joy.

Over the years, it is your presence that I remember most from afar. You were always well groomed, even when emerging from your bedroom in PJs. Your hair combed and slicked back. You always looked fresh, like you just shaved. Your clothes never had a wrinkle. Only those who have visited hot and humid Mumbai will appreciate how difficult this is! You spoke quietly and when it was necessary. Your pace always even, I have never seen you rushed. You were and still are, the epitome of good taste.  You were an executive in your professional life. Your skills in leadership were innate. You commanded and continue to command respect from others, by your quiet presence.

Your home, the old apartment, I remember like my own home, was a product of your sensibilities.

The loss of Aunty O has not diminished with time for those who loved her. The loss of your wife is, I’m sure, unquantifiable. You are dignified, even in the face of loss. She left you with love in your life, as your children and grandchildren walk beside you today. You are a role model to us in so many ways on how life goes on.

When we talk on the phone, we play a quick game of ‘hello, how are you’. I am never able to really talk to you because I feel so emotional. Today, I wanted you to know, the void left behind by Dad has been habitable, because of your presence in my life. I love you dearly.”

This memory has surfaced today because I remember the chaos of family weddings in India. When my sister got married we had 50+ ‘house’ guests who were put up at a nearby hotel with my parents picking up the tab.  They came over for their meals every day for over a week.  It was a frenetic time of love, laughter and fun with aunts, uncles and cousins.  The chef who cooked during that time had an interesting contract.  He brought an army of helpers, set a daily price that included a bottle of rum which he proceeded to drink as he cooked.

With my son’s wedding on the horizon, our experience is so different.  We are working to lists and keeping it simple.  So very unlike experiences reminiscent of early childhood.  Somehow I feel Uncle C would approve of our simple plans.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Word of the Day Challenge:  reminiscent