Saturday, May 5, 2007

The summer of 1996...

June 15, 1996. That was a beautiful day. It was about 75 degrees beautiful blue skies. The wedding was in the afternoon, so we had the entire morning to get ready. Our wedding party was kind of hodgepodge of people. My matron of honor had been a friend of mine since early elementary school. We had been through a lot. We had gone for a few years without talking, but eventually we found our way back to one another before I was married. My other two bridesmaids were friends as well. Oddly enough, I no longer have contact with any of the girls that were in my wedding (that is a whole other post!). The Designer had his brother stand up as his Best Man. Two of his cousins stood up as his groomsmen. Additionally we had a junior bride and groom. The junior bride was my cutie patootie baby sister, R. R is 10 years younger than I am. She is adorable. The junior groom was another of Matt's cousins. Our Flower Girl and Ring Bearer were each cousins as well.

My dress was perfect. It was very decorated. The train was about 12 feet long (Yes! You read that correctly, 12 feet!). The train didn't detach, so you can only imagine what my legs felt like after wearing it for a whole day and night. My knees HURT! But, it was worth it. I felt beautiful. I remember thinking that things couldn't be any better.

Our colors were black, red and white. The girls that stood up for me were all poor teenagers, so I found a dress I liked and then had a local seamstress make it so it would be cheaper for them. I am not going to lie. They turned out horrible. Even so, they all survived. And besides, I was supposed to be the prettiest of all, anyway! :)

My parents were divorced. To say they didn't get along would be the understatement of the year. At that point they downright despised one another. There was the normal divorcee animosity, but in addition my dad was having some major issues. My mom had a new boyfriend that I had no respect for and actually despised. It was rough. However, as usual, we tried to overlook the crap and just bask in our wonderful day.

We wanted to take beach photos after the wedding, so we did a lot of the formal photographs before the wedding. The pictures turned out great! After the wedding we had a trolley pick up the wedding party and take us to the beach (Lake Michigan). We took some great beach pictures of the wedding party as well. There were some of us all in the lake. One of my favorite pictures is of The Designer holding me up over the lake, nearly dropping me in. My dress did get a bit wet, but it wasn't bad.

After the photos we headed to our reception. I can honestly say, we had a great time! It was the party of the year, for sure. Like with any wedding, there were a few glitches, but that is to be expected. Something always happens, right? The part I am going to tell about next is something I don't talk about much. In fact, thinking about it now makes me very sad. I am going to talk about it here because it was a very influential occurrence in our lives. We behave the way we do now based on what happened then.

My father has issues. Yes, very serious issues. When he was only 38 years old he had a massive heart attack that he barely survived. He has had several heart attacks since then and he has had bypass surgery as well. Every time he comes through a heart attack, the doctors tell us that he will not survive another and then he does. It is amazing. Anyway, at the time of our wedding he was taking medication for his heart. He was also taking pain killers for a severe back problem. Additionally he was supposed to be taking medicine for his depression (actually undiagnosed bipolar). All of those medicines in and of themselves are a lot to deal with, but put them together and then sprinkle in alcohol (a lot of it!) and the end result is DISASTER.

Now back to the wedding...For the most part my parents had been behaving themselves throughout the day. However, it was a long day for my mom and dad to be around one another and I guess we were pressing our luck. Couple the many hours they were together with jealousy, anger, prescription drugs and alcohol and that spells big problems for our wedding reception. Just as the last of our guests were leaving my dad I noticed my dad misbehaving. The first thing I heard was him calling my mom rude names. He was lashing out. He was vicious. He started picking at anything he could find to pick at. In response, my mom's boyfriend was getting defensive. At that point my dad began to literally try picking a fight with him right in the middle of the dance floor. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was devastated! How could they do this to me? What were they thinking? Couldn't they have behaved for just another hour? Couldn't they have acted like grown-ups for one whole day at minimum? My "perfect" day was no longer perfect. It was horrible. I cried. I screamed. I even recall crawling up on the table in my beautiful gown and screaming at the top of my lungs to get people's attention. I wanted the attention diverted to me so they would stop. I wanted them to calm down. Nothing seemed to work. The cops were called, but before they arrived, the fight broke up and it was over. What was left for their efforts? Torn tuxes and hurt feelings. Extremely hurt feelings.

A couple of days after the wedding I spoke with my dad and told him that I would not be visiting him any longer until he sought counseling for all of his many issues. He was embarrassed. He was angry. He didn't apologize at the time. For those that know me, they know that I do no hold a grudge typically. But, how was I going to be able to forgive him for this. To me, at the time, this was the unforgivable sin. My relationship with my mom was very strained as a result of all this as well. As a newlywed I was supposed to be on cloud nine and instead I was not talking to either of my parents and very hurt.

As things began to settle back down (about a month or two later) and I slowly started to have a relationship with both of my parents again I received a terrible call. It was my dad. He sounded scared. He told me he wasn't feeling good and asked if I would come over and take him to the hospital. I was scared. No matter how angry I was with him, I didn't want him to die. I rushed over to his house and sped to the ER with him. He was admitted. He was having another heart attack. I was the only child he had that was old enough to do anything for him and lived nearby. His two older children (from a previous marriage) each lived in other states. My little sister was only 9. She couldn't do anything. I felt so alone. So scared.

I sat in the waiting room for a doctor to come out and give me a status. When he finally did come out, he told me it didn't look good. My father had less than a 50% chance of surviving. They encouraged me to call all of his kids and get them to town ASAP. I did just that. It was nice to have their help and support during this time. My father ended up having a quadruple bypass surgery. Fortunately and praise God, he survived. I couldn't be angry at him any more, but I felt like he got off so easy for his ridiculous behaviour a few months prior. We never really talked about the wedding again after this.

My father needed 24 hour care for a while after his surgery. Of course, my brother and sister each returned home to go on with their lives, so that left me. I quit my job and stayed with my father for several weeks after he returned home. The Designed was not happy about this. He was newly married and didn't even have his bride sleeping in the same house as him. I would have been upset too.

Although I forgave my father of his immature actions The Designer has struggled to do so. He says the reason he has a hard time is not so much the way he behaved at the reception as it is the way he has treated me my entire life. There were many times that he was emotionally abusive to me. The Designed resents that. I would too if the tables were turned. To this day The Designer tries not to spend any amount of time with my dad. It puts me in a very difficult position because I am always making excuses about why The Designer doesn't go with me to his house. I am guessing my dad knows the truth, but we never speak about it. It is the elephant in the room.

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