First, did you purchase your ticket for the Peace and Presence Yoga Flow yet? Karen and Lauren did!
Have you ever seen Death at a Funeral? If not, go find it, rent it, watch it. It is the single funniest movie I have ever seen. I was thinking about a line from it recently and thought about some of the pieces I’ve written for important occasions. I love writing pieces for people I love. I give you: a speech, a eulogy, and a “reading.”
Thank you all for being here, for traveling far, for your love, and for the unbelievable celebrating that is about to happen. Thank you Mom and Dad for giving me THE world’s most amazing sister. Thank you, Edie and Nick, for giving me a brother, that is not a dog for once…well…Lochdawg? Oh well. Thank you all for hosting this incredible party to celebrate these gorgeous people. I also want to shout out Mary Lou, our beautiful, unstoppable grandmother who inspires us every day.
I think I will flip the script a little and start with Lochdawg or Chris. You all know how I met Aubrey so that story is less interesting.
Back when I first started dating Chas, he was on one of those drinking teams, you know the kind that occasionally plays softball? I assumed he’d grow out of it so I put up with the ridiculous Sunday Fun Days. Little did I know, 8 years later that drinking team that occasionally plays softball would still be a cohesive unit.
Anyway, Chas was the pitcher and I’d go and watch some days but sometimes someone else stepped in and pitched instead of Chas. Other than he was the other pitcher, I knew four things about him: his name was Lochdawg (weird), he drove a very blue car and had very blue eyes, and that he was Canadian. Sometimes, as I understood it, he would be in Canada (his home) so Chas would pitch both games of the double-header.
Fast forward two years, we planned to go celebrate the final Memorial Day at the Eby Family Beach House by hosting 25 of our friends for the weekend. Apparently, this blue eyed blue car-ed Lochdawg overheard Chas talking about it and said, “Oh that sounds fun. That sounds like something I’d like to do” so along he came. I like to say that Chas and I both fell in friend-love with Lochdawg that weekend. Chas, for Lochdawg’s strong stomach, I’m guessing. And me, for his kindness, sense of humor, and great taste in music. From there we all hung out constantly.
About a year later when Aubrey had moved home from college, I went to a work event with her. In the car on the way, I invited her to hang out with my friends and me afterward and passingly mentioned that the only friend of Chas she was allowed to date was Chris. Aubrey agreed to come along to meet up with my friends. The very second we walked into Cat’s Eye Pub, it was like SHWOOMPPP. They did not stop talking all night.
Now, the funny thing about accidentally setting up your sister with your good friend is that they BOTH give you the play by play. So I’d talk to Lochdawg, “Oh you’re going to Annabel Lee? That sounds great, she will love that” and then I’d talk to Aubrey 10 minutes later, “Oh he’s taking you to Annabel Lee? That’s adorable!” Anyway, you’re all welcome. We wouldn’t be here but for my careful coaching of both parties.
But I actually might not be right about that because a couple years ago Lochdawg wrote me a beautiful birthday note (he writes very heartfelt notes), he thanked me for setting him up with his soulmate but added that he liked to think that since they are sincerely, definitely meant to be together that he likes to think they would have met anyway. And as I look at them today and have watched them grow together over the past 5 years, I think deep down I know that his truth is the right one. They are here together, married, because they are meant to be. I don’t think a strong enough word exists to explain how happy I am to see my sister marrying her best friend, one of my best friends.
Aubs, you are absolutely stunning, not that I am not used to that. She passed me in height when I was 11 and has basically looked like a model ever since. Aubrey and I are only 18 months apart and with that comes an understanding of the world that only she and I share. We were, after all, raised by Nancy and Dick.
We have grown up completely symbiotically. We are like those trees that has roots that wrap around one another and grow up all twirled. And with Aubrey, that’s easy. She just loves. She always talks about how Joe, her dog, “loves to love,” but Aubrey that’s because YOU love to love.
There’s a character in the book The Secret Lives of Bees named May Boatwright who feels the feelings of all people around her. She takes on the emotions of everyone she sees. I remember reading that book like a million years ago and thinking: Wow that’s Aubrey. She is the most empathetic person that only a fictional character can match it. I know she’s exploding with emotions right now, a room of 200, wow I can’t imagine. But that’s my sister. And I think in this world, it’s empathy like Aubrey’s that we can really all use more of.
Chris, I know you’ll take care of our girl and she will certainly take care of you. And now that I have been married for four months and am an authority on marriage, the simple advice I want to give is communicate, listen, and apologize.
Aubs, I can’t believe the stars aligned this well to be able to give me a sister like you but I know every single day how lucky I am to have you, to be your co-tree, to be your sounding board, and to have you be my own. You are such an incredibly caring, driven, and brilliant woman.
You put up with me selling you candles out of my bedroom and making you pay me $20 so that I wouldn’t complain to Mom that you were allowed to shave your legs a year earlier than I was. You supported me through so much anxiety, through school and working in a school, and anything that I need to say out loud. Guys, I can’t believe two of my best friends are joining eternally today. My heart is through the ceiling. I love you. I am proud of you. Congratulations.
The first word that comes to mind when I think of Grandma Freida is “sugar.” Maybe more than anyone I have ever met, she was made of it. The only person I ever heard her say anything bad about doesn’t deserve to have his name uttered here. She was so sweet that you couldn’t help but just stop and marvel at her. Like, “Where did you come from?” And the answer to that is, a lot of places. As a military kid and wife, she moved around a lot.
She’d spout off states and towns that sounded like they were out of 1950s musicals–and most likely, they also were. She always maintained that her favorite place she ever lived was Blueberry Hill, Tennessee. She’d stare off into the distance and describe it like she was writing a poem out loud. And that’s how she was. In that tiny body, she held onto all the places she loved but also all of the people she loved. She’d tell me about her mother and her father and her sister and her best friend Beryl, her pet cat, and certainly about Stan.
She’d tell me about people in the very next room too: Cindy, Skip, Chris, Chas, Robin and John Christian, Carole and Martin, Luci and Sarah and Rob and Kattie and RJ, about Gabby, about Aubrey, about my own parents. She’d tell me about her new friends from church and Anne from next door and Sierra her card-playing friend, and she’d go on about someone whether dead or living to the point that she’d get tears in her eyes telling you how wonderful and special that person was to her. She’d even tell me about myself. And all that time I’d be looking at her like, Wow. You are made of love…or sugar, or both. And you must come from a place with a fruit in the name like Blueberry Hill.
Speaking of places, back in December Chas, Cindy, Freida and I went to go see The Lion King at the Hippodrome. It was a special treat, a night out, Chas and his girls. I drove us down and had Freida riding shotgun. She was on a medicine that made her a little loopy and as I hugged corners and searched for a parking spot, she sat next to me laughing. At one point she blurts out, “Of all the places in the whole world you could live, why would you ever choose to live in Baltimore!?” And as a Baltimore-lover, she is the only person I will allow to say that and get away with it. Yet in all her years of living here, I had never heard her say anything even remotely negative about it. Again, another reminder of what a sweetheart she was. But, I actually think she really liked it here.
Back in September I stayed with Freida for a night. My Gram was in hospice at the time. Freida insisted she’d go with me to visit her. The second she walked in, my Gram, who was having trouble speaking at the time but was still mentally there, said, “Freida!” and it was like she’d gotten out of that bed, and given Freida a bearhug. She was so excited. She shuffled over to my Gram, embraced her, and started telling my Gram all about her granddaughter. It was among the most beautiful and the most difficult things to witness. And looking at them, I thought my heart might explode–luckily it didn’t.
I’d like to end with a detail about Freida that always amazed me. She had two dolls she kept. And, they slept in her bed. One must have been the prototype of Snoopy–literally–like it had to be the first Snoopy ever created. The other was a girl doll with a face drawn on. Cindy can tell you their stories. I’ve heard them but forgotten. I do know the girl doll was from Freida’s great grandmother, someone I heard a lot about over the years. And again, she lived like hundreds of years ago but Freida would describe her as if she’d just gotten back from a visit with her. Anyway these dolls may have been terrifying to someone who didn’t know their story. But to Freida they were family. I used to like to go up to her room when we’d go over to Oakdale for dinner and say hi to her before she mosied down. I will never forget the first time I watched her tuck the dolls in under their doll-sized blanket. And the last time I visited her at Oakdale I pointed to the dolls and said, “Grandma, do you want me to get the dolls under their blanket?” And her response was, “Well, it’s a little warm in here, don’t you think?”
So goodbye for now to our Grandma Freida, to Cindy’s mother, to Chas and Chris’s grandma, and to everyone’s friend. But I know that with tears in our eyes, we will continue to talk about her in vivid detail, like she’s just in the next room.
Tim and Maddy
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy…
I don’t remember meeting Tim, which I think, is telling–not of him but, of “fun,”
When I first met Maddy she wore a dinosaur Halloween costume made of a hoodie and some felt.
When I first saw them together I thought, “Wow, those are two pairs of really light eyes.”
When I first heard them together, I couldn’t stop laughing.
To combine the wittiness of these two is almost unfair. How are the rest of us supposed to even seem clever?
Tim told me that when they first met, he thought,
“This is someone I can trust,
whom I’ll love,
with whom I’d like to embark on a journey.”
That’s what continues today: a journey.
Of belly laughs and end of a long day back rubs and Barry Glazer’s pink nose and three matching La-Z-Boys…oh wait, those are already a thing.
A journey of teamwork and pillow talk and loading the dishwasher the right way and jokingly bickering over whose turn it is to turn off the overhead light. (It’s definitely Tim’s.)
A journey of shared accounts and Home Depot trips and planning the next vacation.
Maddy told me that when she looks across the room at Tim, she thinks, “Look at how wonderful he is.
How could I possibly have gotten so lucky?
This is my forever.
There is no one better in this world for me.”
You’re right, Maddy, about some things, but this isn’t luck. Tim is a sign of your merit as a sister, daughter, friend, and now a wife.
And Tim, Maddy is a reflection of your kind heart, intelligence, humor, and general goodness.
You two are stellar humans as two and unstoppably fantastic as one unit.
I will end with my rewritten version that claims to be an Apache blessing but may also derive from a 1947 novel called Blood Brother. Either way, I don’t have permission to rewrite it so don’t tell on me.
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other.
If you do feel rain, you will together enjoy the sound of its patter on an old Baltimore awning and the way the Natty Boh sign lights up against a gray blue sky.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Like a bonfire in the Loughlins’ front yard on a November night.
Now there is no loneliness.
You are two bodies but there is one life before you, and one home.
On O’Donnell St.
When evening falls you will look up and there she will be.
He will take your hand and she will take yours and you’ll turn together to look
at the road you traveled to reach this – the hour of your happiness.
It stretches behind you as the future lies ahead, a long and winding road
whose every turning means discovery, old hopes, new laughter, and shared tears.
The adventure has just begun.
Lastly, did you purchase your ticket for the Peace and Presence Yoga Flow yet?