Autour D’Elle by Marc Chagall (1945
BY KIMBERLY MAYER
We ought to think that we are one of the leaves of a tree, and the tree is all humanity. We cannot live without the others, without the tree.
I can’t seem to step away from trees. I move; they stay. And I keep coming back to them. In Philadelphia it was the gingko tree. On San Juan Island, where I live, it’s the Pacific Madrone. In Massachusetts recently, dogwood trees spoke to me. We were there for a wedding and I fell in love with dogwood trees, their draping boughs abloom in big full skirts—looking to my eye like brides, up and down every green leafed well-appointed street in town.
Our younger sister was getting married, and my other sister and I were falling all over ourselves trying to fill our mother’s shoes for the bride. This wedding was, after all, mom’s last wish. Anyone gathered around her hospital bed in those final days was witness to it. Having lost the ability to speak after suffering a severe stroke, she nevertheless made her intentions known. Pointing with her finger and darting her eyes, back and forth from our youngest sister to her beau, over and over. He got the message alright, and five months after the funeral he proposed.
Now the stage was set for the wedding in a Wedgewood blue manse outside Boston, at the home of the great grandson of Pablo Casals—which has nothing to do with anything, but just knowing that made it all the more heavenly, I thought. On a day in spring so temperate, it should have been bottled. All the dogwood trees, as I mentioned, in full bloom and finery.
There was something about the light that day. Anyone could have told you, it touched us all.
Fifty-five guests filed up the front steps entering a high-ceilinged foyer, which led to a grand dining room, which led to a grander-still living room. A house that told the story not only of its past, but of the vibrant people living there today as well. Accompanied by an acoustical guitarist, the guests took their place in folding chairs facing a staging area. Our father sat quietly up front in his wheelchair. And what held him for hours–all afternoon–we now know.
There was something about the air that day too, it touched us all. We were all drinking in the scene as we breathed.
The ceremony began, the officiate standing to one side, bride and groom to the other. Between them a tall window looking to green, light through the leaves. With each word and each vow exchanged, the breeze which had been so gentle became a declarative wind. The window treatment puckered, billowed, and ultimately blew straight out to the side.
Something was coming in.
In my family we’d all been wondering when our mother would appear. It had been a long time for us since her death, but we had to understand she was trying to find her way around. And until now, mom had never been on her own. But how else can we explain that it all went so flawlessly well, our youngest sister’s wedding?
It had to have been our mother.
16 responses to “Something Blue”
A “declarative wind,” indeed! And an apropros description of our Lois
How well we know each other’s mothers, Craig. If my mom is in the wind, your mother comes up for me each year in daffodils. And in a myriad of ways, every day.
Oh Kim, this is my favorite of your writings so far. I love this. So descriptive. Beyond descriptive, actually…evocative.
Thank you, Katie, means so much to me.
I think we all felt that breeze was your Mom attending her baby’s wedding!
Wonderful you were there, Christine. And speaking for my siblings, I think we all feel you are representing her now in Oh, so many ways…
Beautiful, Kim. I felt your mom’s presence as I read.
Thank you, Ann. I love this, just as I fell in love with your mother in your remarkable memoir, “Her Beautiful Brain”.
Beautiful, my dear.
Means so much to me coming from you, Deb.
I did not know all of her family well but I knew Lois. Reading this amazing piece gave me goose bumps and I just knew that Lois had come back to be there
for this very special day. God bless to the bride and groom and of course Lois, such a wonderful lady…….
How wonderful to hear from you, Deanne. And I love how well you knew mom.
Just got WiFi
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks as always, Alice.
Mom also seemed to have arranged for the beautiful weather. She was very present, in every way. Her unexpected breeze during the ceremony was particularly moving.
We didn’t really notice the breeze until we came downstairs for ceremony, did we? Both of us upstairs with the bride in “The Green Room,” trying so hard to fill mom’s shoes. But I think you are right. In retrospect, mom must have had a hand in the beautiful weather all day.