Brand building through storytelling

So when is the wedding?

I have an old friend who never fails to ask, when we meet for dinner and a long heart-to-heart, “So how’s Ben doing? Any wedding plans yet?”

In the half-dozen years that my son, age 36, has loved the same woman, I have offered a succession of answers: “It’s a big mystery,” “I think he’s getting his mind around it,” “They’re kinda sorta engaged.” I quite liked the sound of the latest iteration: “They’ve bought a house that’s under construction. When the house is built, I figure they’ll get married.”

None of this cuts much ice with my friend. In her view, I’ve been complicit in male shilly-shallying. “‘When the house is built,’ you say? What kind of answer is that? You’re going to leave your son’s future in the hands of some developer who, I guarantee, will not get the house built on schedule? It’s time to lay it on the line with Ben: ‘Do the deed and start living like a grownup.'” She drums her fingers on the table to make sure I get the message. “And remember,” she adds, “I expect an invitation to the wedding!”

It’s not as if I’ve dodged wedding talk with my son. About once a year I make a delicate suggestion: “You two seem like a great couple. You’ve had plenty of time to get to know each other. Your father and I like Beth very much.” I should have known better than to hope that the simple fact of liking Beth would nudge things forward.

When I told my own parents I had booked a wedding date, my mother recoiled in horror and my father mused, with a look of abstracted indulgence, that everyone is entitled to one mistake. I would have liked them to rejoice for me, but young as I was (not quite 21), I didn’t really need their approval. The one thing that mattered was my own awareness that whatever I did and wherever I went from then on, my husband would be with me, inevitable as weather. To deny that this transformation had occurred would be to hunker down in the way station of adolescence instead of moving on to the adventure of adult life, with all its dangers and delights.

Falling in love doesn’t change anyone. The changes don’t start until you commit to the relationship and rise to the challenge of seeing the world through your partner’s eyes instead of imposing your vision of things on him or her. Some people find this such a terrifying prospect that they move on in search of The One, who will conform exactly to their dreams and desires. As a mother, I could tell that Ben wasn’t one of these eternal seekers—that he had let his life be enlarged by the gift of mutual understanding.

On Saturday I joined Ben, Beth and Colsen (Ben’s 11-year-old son by a previous relationship) at the Cabbagetown Festival. We munched caramelized pecans while contemplating the array of handicrafts that seem to burst out of nowhere on occasions like this one. Colsen gave a toonie of his savings to a father-and-son blues band, in which a kid his own age played a demon harp. Suddenly Ben turned to me and said, smiling broadly, “Beth and I have some news. We’re getting married this month. We’ve just bought the rings.”

I’d always known I would hear this sooner or later. I just couldn’t have guessed that it would happen in a lineup for ice cream, amid a throng of shuffling urbanites enjoying what might have been the last bright Saturday of summer. An absolutely perfect setting, now that I think of it. “Congratulations!” I exclaimed. “I’m thrilled for you!”

Oh, one more thing. The wedding. When, precisely? Details, details. They’re flying somewhere to take their vows–no family or friends invited. Well, it’s their life and their wedding. Here’s to them.


Posted by Rona

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