Weddings bind generations and families in celebration
Our lives are paced by milestones that define each age: birth, graduations, weddings, children and death. We experience a cascade of beginnings and ends, of starts, stops and continuances. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Some of our experiences are sad, others are full of joy and wonder. Some events are absolute. Others are but a new stage of an ongoing story.
This past weekend was a festival of life in all its splendor. We participated in my oldest son’s wedding. It was a magnificent event. It was a celebration, a display of the friendship, love, and a renewal of relationships.
Friendship was forefront. We have grown up with Colton’s “gang” for three decades. Some were his childhood running buddies that played video games at the house and were teammates and classmates together. Many were college friends with whom we have shared elation and disappointment at Virginia Tech tailgates since they were undergrads. It has been wonderful to watch how these young people have matured over time, become wonderful young adults and solidified into productive members of society.
The love between my son and his beautiful bride, Lara was clear. They have spent years together from college to adulthood. They are comfortable in their own skins as well as part of the greater whole they have become together.
That love now succeeds that which they have received from their families, but it can never supplant the love their parents have for them, a love that will never lessen even as they build a family of their own and grow in their own relationship together.
The demonstration of affection was so much more than just the connection between these two people. Their cohort shares more than friendship. They have been there for each other, in success and in failure. To say that they are “close” would be a gross understatement and a disservice to those bonds.
The relationships span time, place, and people. My other kids have become a part of the group, not just relatives or outside observers. With not quite three years separating them, my children are like peas in a pod, individual but tight in ways that only close siblings can appreciate. It is fun to see how all of them have coalesced into a group, or perhaps more precisely a “gaggle.”
I got to renew my relationship with my own three siblings, long overdue. The extended family which now includes step-relations have also joined the crowd. Like a tide, they roll in and out with an ever-changing kaleidoscope of interactions. Amazing.
The bridal couple’s friends parents are like us, part of the formative process for these kids (Yes, at 65, I can call the thirty-year-olds, “kids”). We have become friends; our shared experiences bind us together and to the group. We all have stories, some embarrassing to our offspring (and some to us). Most of all we have memories that transcend the pictures we have posted. Those are but snapshots of a larger saga, but they serve as reminders of our paths together, mere fragments of the story they conjure. It has been our honor to be welcomed into their lives. It means the world to us.
The wedding was in Washington, DC, so I had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery with my brother. We both served in the military and three generations of our family are laid to rest there. It is a somber setting, but also incredibly beautiful.
My father and mother are buried just below the Tomb of the Unknowns and Jon’s wife, an astronaut that went down on the Columbia space shuttle, is laid to rest just above. My grandfather and mother lie on a hill near the Lee Custis Mansion on whose steps I commissioned my daughter into the Navy. It has a sweeping vista of our nation’s capital.
Arlington has a special place in our family’s story, perhaps as close to a home as we may ever have, a place where subsequent generations are likely to come to rest.
This is not a morbid end to an otherwise beautiful tale. Rather it is a extension of the celebration of our family. We all pass from this world and our forebearers ought to be remembered for who they were and what they meant to us. The visit to Arlington tied memories of the past to a joyous present and to the hopes and aspirations of the future. I know that all of my family living and deceased celebrated.
In the end, we leave little to this world except our children. They are our legacy. The wedding and the festivities are a celebration of the continuation of life and the joining of lineage and families to create another generation (hopefully in the not-too-distant future). To them we pass the baton.
Godspeed Colton and Lara as you enter into the next phase of life’s wonderous journey…and to all of their generation as they build an even better world than the one they are inheriting from us.