Wonderful World - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Wonderful World

I knew I was going to extend this long, Memorial Day weekend by one extra day so that I would have time to recover from the excitement and activity of my daughter’s wedding.

I was paying my penance in advance at work, trying to make sure everything was in order so that my boss wouldn’t be frustrated by my absence and/or so that my re-entry to the grind on Wednesday wouldn’t overwhelm me.

I was feeling the mounting stress of things undone both at work and at home and it was causing my chest to clench and my head to ache.

Before my boss left for his weekend he came up and gave me some sage advice.

Real happiness happens when people come together in the spirit of love. (Natalie Ann Gonzalez)

Real happiness happens when people come together in the spirit of love. (Natalie Ann Gonzalez)

“No matter how busy or tired you are,” he said, “or how crazy it gets – make sure to take a few minutes to stop, stand back and take it all in.”

“I will.” I promised without conviction.

The hours before the wedding were nothing but chaos and I found myself running in twelve directions getting very little done.

People were coming from all corners of the universe telling me they needed this or didn’t have that or couldn’t find the other.

I wanted to go upstairs to the room where my baby girl was getting her hair and makeup done. I wanted to be a part of the moments she was having up there but I couldn’t. There was too much to do.

I started feeling frustrated and a bit sorry for myself.  When I get tired and cranky that can happen.

But then those feelings blossomed into bitter feelings that were nothing short of jealousy.

I was jealous of everyone.

My ex-husband, Shannon’s daddy, was going to get a special dance with my girl. The mother of the groom was going to get a special dance with her boy.

Something that hadn’t even occurred to me before was, suddenly, the most important thing in the world. I wanted a special dance, too.

Folks were getting their hair and makeup lovingly done while I was sweating like a pig in heat and my hair was, literally, standing on end.  I was bound to look a wreck.

Pictures were being taken while I was giving instructions to the caterers about the timing of events.

I was sure there would be no evidence that I was even there.

As I ran around putting flowers on tables and dips in containers and bubbles on chairs I felt like the red-headed step child – the old dog – and every other thing that represents odd man out.

My out of town siblings were all going to bond together without me, I told myself while I was running from here to there.

I found myself feeling things that a 13-year-old girl might feel if she couldn’t go to the popular kid’s party.

The father daughter dance was a classic. (Susan Murray-Patton)

The father daughter dance was a classic. (Susan Murray-Patton)

Then I remembered my boss’s advice and despite my exhaustion and the madness around me, I stopped. I looked around and took it all in.

On the grassy field over- looking the water, Shannon’s new aunt and uncle were lovingly decorating the archway that they built especially for the bride and groom.

It was perfect against a cerulean blue sky.

The banquet sized tent was packed with round tables and white cloths and gorgeous flowers that Shannon’s new mother-in-law spent hours arranging by hand.

It looked positively elegant.

The wedding cake that was proudly displayed on a tea table in the corner was made by the mother of Shannon’s Aunt Terry on her father’s side.

The band members (Sac au Lait) were all dearly loved friends of mine who came out of their way to fill our special day with the spirit lifting jazz of New Orleans.

One of their members sang Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World with perfection and, as I listened, it occurred to me that I was looking at things all wrong.

My role in this event was no less or more important than the roles of dozens of others who came together in the spirit of love.

From the shower and rehearsal dinner to the toasts from the best man and maid of honor, everyone made an effort to see to it that it went without a hitch.

My brother offered a blessing that was meant, not only for the bride and groom, but for everyone there.

In a way, this event was just like every theater production that I’ve ever directed. I ran around making sure all the pieces came together but, as usual, what I did was nothing more than organizing and arranging the talents, the gifts and the offerings of others.

Shannon and Andrew were the stars and their eyes sparkled.  Their faces beamed with pure delight.

Seeing that made all thoughts of myself disappear.

The father/daughter dance turned out to be the highlight of the reception.

Shannon’s Daddy loved her enough to hide out in his garage learning and practicing Beonce’s single ladies dance. They broke it out together to everyone’s surprise and delight.  (You should have seen it!!!)

And the “audience” was filled with the warmest, most generous people I have ever had the pleasure of spending an evening with.

Shakespeare said that all the world is a stage and the men and women merely players.  For Shannon and Andrews wedding every player did his or her part to perfection.

The result was a magnificent evening of laughter and dance and friendship, family and fun.

I am so grateful that I remembered in time to stop thinking only of myself to remember my boss’s sage advice.

If I were to give these kids, or anyone else, advice to carry with them into the future it would be this:

No matter how tired or busy you are  – no matter how crazy it gets – make sure to take a few minutes to stop, stand back and take it all in.

Chances are you’ll be reminded that it really is a wonderful world.

(Feature photo by Laura Brothman)


About the author

Nancy Murray

Nancy Murray is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and the Publishing Arts at University of Baltimore. She is a playwright who as enjoyed full productions of her work at Fells Point Corner Theater, Silver Spring Stage and the Montgomery County One Act Festival where it was selected as The Best of Festival. Most recently she has been enjoying participating in the Submit 10 Series as both a playwright and as a performer. Contact the author.
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