Another Royal Wedding On The Horizon!
Now that the Duchess of Sussex is hitched, there's another wedding on the horizon between a Duke and well...another Megan, to be exact. And it is happening smack dab in the middle of June right outside of our own nation's Capitol.
Duke "Ian" Wellington will soon be wedding his college sweetheart, a wonderful young woman who's been by his side for seven years now. However, it is my understanding that, where all his college buddies and friends called my son "Duke" while he was attending undergrad (many still do), Megan did not. To her, he was Ian. I guess the Duchess made it clear where she stood from the start. Hence, I liked her immediately as she proved herself to be a very smart lady. Seems to be a characteristic of the name, don't you think?
In any event, as I originally wrote this piece for the "Modern Love" section of The New York Times, I am sharing an abbreviated version of it here with you today. Beyond the humor, the lessons are important -- whether you are marrying an actual Prince or a Duke by default of a very cool sir name:
"A Mother’s Toast To Her Son And His Bride Shares The Beautiful Union Of Love And Legacy"
I had just stepped off the plane and into the Salt Lake City airport when it happened – a phone call that rendered me speechless and elated all at the same time. It was from my oldest son. Moments earlier and unbeknownst to me, he had proposed to his girlfriend. I had not expected it, so adept had he been in keeping the cat in the bag. The cat fully out now though, he wanted to tell me the news before his three younger, excited sisters did it for him.
I couldn’t have been more delighted. Both he and his betrothed have been a perfect match from the very start. Now, as they go about their life together preparing for their impending nuptials, I can’t help but mull over thoughts of my own wedding to his father, some twenty-seven years ago, and how Cancer forced me to spend the last sixteen of those without him.
It boggles my mind how quickly time has passed and how much of an impact my late husband still had on my efforts when raising our kids. Tasked with doing most of this alone, my greatest hope had always been to transform this tragic reality into a proper legacy as well as an opportunity to inspire my kids to live voracious, joyful, and socially responsible lives. The time had finally come for my work to show itself, and show itself it would, in the form of a wedding ceremony followed by a graduation from medical school. The word “proud” cannot fully express how I feel nor how blessed I’ve always been in having this incredibly special young man as my son.
When we lost his father, my son naturally stepped-in to help in ways well beyond his years. I worried about the implications of this from the first moment he insisted upon being a pallbearer at his father’s funeral on. He was nine years-old at the time. My concern that he would lose his childhood much too early - burdened by the realities of fatherlessness, a working mother, and a gaggle of young sisters to care for - consumed me daily. And yet, my son navigated this new terrain with very few hiccups. I have no doubt that the solid and steady path that he has chosen since reflects the totality of this experience. Coupled with his natural sense of humor, the pairing makes for a steadfast beginning to a lifetime of marital commitment.
As my son and his fiancé immerse themselves in the planning stages of their wedding, my thoughts turn to all of this in relationship to the monumental occasion and the toast I would, undoubtedly, give at the rehearsal dinner. Knowing myself as I do, I can only imagine the emotional state that I will be in that day – a combination of big smiles mixed with crying jags, ultimately, leaving me speechless. It is for this reason that I am working on my speech well-ahead of time. Having raised a son who has spent much of his life “rising to the occasion,” letting him down on such an important day was not the kind of mother I ever subscribed to being. I wouldn’t start now.
Obviously, reaching back into the pool of memories of when my son was a child would make for a fine beginning. And surely, sharing glimpses of the budding and blooming relationship between the two of them was a “must” as well. But then what? What wisdom could I share that would benefit them for the long haul? What wise words could I add to their already strong foundation of which to shore it up even further? What would his father want me to say?
I wracked my brain for hours hoping to come up with a clue. Then it hit me. I would place “LOVE” at the center of my speech just as it had always been in my relationship with my son. I would then build off of that single word just as he and his new wife would do in their bright and beautiful future, together. My plan in place, and quite pleased with my own cleverness, I began carefully crafting each paragraph around those four individual letters that, when combined, made-up the pivotal element to any marital relationship, especially those which stood the test of time.
Focusing on the first of the grouping, “L”, the persistent thought that kept tugging at me was the same one I had gently touched upon during a prior afternoon while in the company of my son and his future wife. Busy shopping for a rehearsal dinner venue, I could see “concern” in the bride-to-be’s face as she struggled to accommodate every one of their guests’ needs before her’s or my son’s. She was doing what came naturally to her, and although I understood and appreciated her selflessness immensely, experience had taught me that the bulk of a couple’s wedding day will, primarily, only be remembered by the bride and groom. So my suggestion for that day and this one too would be to “Let the wedding be about the two of you, first.” The guests would ultimately understand and the meaning and joy behind the ceremony and celebration won’t be lost on anyone, especially you.
My creative juices now flowing, I commenced on to the second letter in the word, “O”. It would mark one of the most important pieces of advice that I could offer, helping my son and his bride to avoid a marital trap too many couples, mistakenly and unknowingly, become caught up in. Simply put, “Oust the Joneses from your life and don’t look back.”
I’ve seen it happen time and time again…two people, starting out, become consumed with achievement -- our societal norm. Before long, the stress on their relationship chokes it to death. Divorce quickly follows. It is a devastating and sobering reality to wake up to, especially as this common scenario could have easily been avoided had they chosen each other over the Joneses, daily. It’s a lesson and decision to grasp fully, upfront, one that will save you a great deal of heartache and pain down the line.
Moving onto the third letter, “V”, I leaned back in my chair for a minute, reflecting upon the number of instances I’d seen couples forget this wisdom entirely and the harm it caused. This little tidbit requires monumental maturity and, in some cases, restraint. Succinctly put, “Vow to respect and stand firmly beside each other in both public and private.”
No, the carry-through on this one isn’t always easy, but it is a lot less difficult than the effort that must be applied if you don’t. This does not mean that you will always agree or should become carbon copies of each other. It means treating each other, for the duration of your married life, exactly as you’ve chosen to treat each other today, both behind closed doors and while among those who know your names and those who don’t.
Finally, the last letter, “E”. It’s a rule-of-thumb quite personal to me and certainly, one you don’t want to forgo in your marital relationship. “Every day of your marriage should be lived as if it were your last.” Don’t take for granted even a single minute between you. Life can turn on a dime, leaving you to realize the value of which you held or squandered when it is all too late. Cherish each other and the time you have together. It is a gift few will ever know.
I will end my moment in the sun with the following phrase, “That is LOVE, my dears, and I wish you much of it in your life ahead.”
Lifting my glass a bit higher, I will then ask the crowd to do the same and pray that most aren’t sleeping when I do. No matter, as long as my son and his bride are awake and listening, I feel I will have accomplished what I, originally, set out to do – honor this monumental union, embrace a wonderful young woman into the fold, recognize the remarkable nature of the young man I raised, and acknowledge a legacy that continues to live on through today and beyond.
Expect a heck of a gulp of champagne to follow, mind you! Can you blame me?