Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Wedding Tale

This is a wedding tale from the 70's.  The early part of the 70's.  The "Hippie Era."

My parents were pretty traditional, conservative Catholics.  Yes, they had their differences with the Church hierarchy at times, but they tended to be reticent and respectful in their criticisms.  But, in the life they lived, they were pretty conservative folks.  And a lot of the ideas of the Sexual Revolution did not seem very "nice" to them.  That's how they would put it, too -- when hearing about "free love" and bralessness and living together without being married and inter-sex group showers and dudes who lived in VW vans with a harem.  They would say, "Well, that's just not very nice."  By and large, though, my parents were people who rolled with the punches.  They could be who they were and respect the ways of others, even if they didn't think those ways were "very nice."

And in the first part of the 70's, my dad and a friend started their own general contracting business.  It was just a very small enterprise.  My dad and his partner did most of the work themselves, although they did "sub out" certain tasks.

My dad's partner had a son and a daughter, who were young adults at the time, and who were -- there could be no arguing about this -- hippies.  

And this is where the wedding tale comes in.  None of this is meant to reflect badly on anybody.  This is just how things went during the "Hippie Era."

My dad would come home looking very concerned sometimes.  He would tell us that his partner's son was in a bad situation.  Apparently, the son had gotten himself a girlfriend.  This girlfriend was married and had two children.  She was estranged from her husband, but because of financial constraints, they were still living together.  But, the sleeping arrangements were interesting.  The estranged husband would sleep on the couch and my dad's partner's son would sleep in the bedroom with the lady.  The three young adults were apparently content with the situation.  My dad, though, would say, "That's just not very nice."

You may think it strange that my dad would tell us kids about this.  But, you must understand my family style.  My parents talked about anything and everything in front of us kids.  They thought that it would -- as my dad used to say -- "make us smart" about things.

Anyway, the three cohabiting young adults got their money problems figured out and the estranged husband got his own place.  And my dad's partner's son and the lady got engaged.  And we all got invited to the wedding.

Many conservative people of the day probably wouldn't have gone to that wedding, considering all of the interesting circumstances leading up to and surrounding it.  I mean, you had a divorced lady with two young children, a wife-stealing dude, "shacking up," lack of a traditional Christian ceremony, and on and on...  These were certainly not the kinds of circumstances in which my parents ever hoped to find their daughters.

But, my parents were gracious people.  They understood the value of kindness.  They understood the value of friendship.  They understood the definition of charity.  And they were wise enough to know that good people sometimes find themselves in difficult circumstances.  So, they were inclined to cut people a lot of slack and hope for the best.  And -- even though these concepts were not "in" at the time -- my parents knew how to "coexist" and "embrace diversity."  They just called it "having manners."

So, we went to the wedding.

It was lovely.  It was in somebody's home and the bride was wearing a long dress, made of pink chiffon.  I think it had those sheer full length sleeves, which were popular at the time.  She had pretty flowers in her hair.  And she and the groom were happy and smiling and apparently very pleased to have my family at their celebration.  After the wedding, the bride and groom and the two children were going to live in Germany (because the groom was in the Army).  The bride was telling me about this, and she kindly invited my sisters and I to go visit them there.  She made me feel so very welcome.  Of course, this was not to be as I think I was about 10 years old and unable to travel to Germany.  The thing is, I knew she meant it.  I thought she was rather kick-ass and very beautiful.  And my parents hugged and kissed and congratulated the young couple.  And I knew they were sincere in those congratulations.

After all this, did the bride and groom stay together?  Yes, they did.  In spite of all the rather unorthodox circumstances, they did.  And I have always been grateful for parents who tried to teach me to be gracious and to cut people a little slack.

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