Saturday, July 6, 2013

Three Weddings on a Distant Shore

When I was six years old, I slept over at a friend’s house to watch The Royal Wedding.  I refer, of course, to Prince Charles and Lady Diana.  I remember it being A Big Deal in that distant, background way that kids treat all events not directly related to themselves.  Meaning, it was something adults wouldn’t stop talking about.  The closest I came to being interested in the proceedings was that I had a pretty picture of Lady Diana cut out from the Globe and Mail, which I liked because my mother had the same hairstyle.

The big day came, and my friend’s mother dragged us out of bed at some ungodly hour to sit in front of the television.  And the wedding went on and on.  I am blessed with minimal patience, and I remember wondering when they were going to just get on with it.  I guess the church was neat, and Lady-now-Princess Diana wore a fancy dress, and I suppose there must have been singing.  But my friend and I squirmed and sighed and wriggled on the carpet until we couldn’t stand it any longer, and we ran out to play in the backyard.  And that was my first electronic wedding.

When the next Royal Wedding came around – and now we are entering recent history with William and Kate – we happened to be visiting friends at their ranch in Mexico.  They turned on the TV in the cool lounge upstairs, and people drifted in and out of the room over the course of the day to watch the event.  Stylish squirmed and sighed and wriggled on the tile floor until she couldn’t stand it any longer, and she ran out to ride horses with the older boys.  Indy did puzzles all day and probably would have been surprised to hear there was a wedding happening at all.  I found a cold drink, sat with my friends and watched two young people bravely pledge their troth in front of the watching and judging millions.  And that was my second electronic wedding.

Last weekend, I dragged my family out of bed at an ungodly hour.  I lit the fire, made some tea, and the four of us huddled around the computer.  My sister was getting married.  Even though she was busy with all of the wedding day things that had to be done, she had generously offered to Skype us into the wedding.  Soon enough, her happy face filled the screen.  She made the hand-off to one of my brothers, and over the next forty-five minutes, we watched wedding preparations and the beginning of the ceremony.  It was a beautiful summer day, and we were all excited to pick out other family members standing in my sister’s backyard.  And that was my third - and best - electronic wedding.
Stylish and her young cousin share a hello.
I won’t lie to you.  It gave me a pang not being there in person.  Even though I was able to go home and visit with my family in the spring, I wish our timing could have been different so we could have made my sister’s big day.  This is the hard part of cruising – you simply aren’t there.  For big things, for little things; for planned events or casual drop-ins.  You can’t make it.  You are too far away.

But I did make it.  Even a decade ago that would have been impossible.  Yes, we had connection issues, and we didn’t get to see the whole ceremony.  But glass half-full.  I got to wish my sister well on her wedding day, face to face.  I got to see her with my new brother-in-law.  I got to see my family standing with her.  I may have still been in my pajamas, but I got to reach across the miles and witness for myself that they were all going to have a wonderful day. 

I hear a lot of griping and hang-wringing about technology.  “Oh, it’s such a pain to use.”  “Oh, we’re all so dependent on it.”  “Oh, the kids these days, all they do is stare at their iPads.”  “Oh, no one knows how to write/communicate/build friendships/unplug anymore.”  It’s a "decline of the next generation" story, and it's a boring one.   

For my part, I won't throw out the good with the bad.  I don’t want to see my kids living head down in front of a glowing screen, either.  I hate Windows Updates as much as the next person.  But technology lets us share cruising information, good charts, weather routing, satellite imagery, and yes, family weddings.  I’m grateful.  

When it comes to friends and family, communication is a friendly chat over the fence, even if that fence is ten thousand miles wide with crackling static in the background.  Embrace it.  I'll take a daily email or a phone call or even an emoticon any time.  These tools keep us connected while we are far away - and we have been far away for a long time now.  And while I’m hoping I'll never have to take part in electronic wedding #4, if it is my only way to be there, I’ll do it with a smile on my face.

As for electronic wedding #3, I'd like to say thank you to my sister for helping us make it to her wedding.  We were delighted to be there, and we wish you two, Little Red, and The New One every happiness.
These crazy kids are going to make it.


Anonymous said...

Amy, the day was made even better sharing with all of you
Love Mom

Kate said...

Great post you made me cry. Glad you could join us too. Love Kate