Monday, June 14, 2010

Suddenly I’m an M.O.B!

Last weekend (starting June 4) was one of those periods when everything seems to come together as if charmed—one fortunate coincidence after another-- and afterwards you realize that a phase of your life has ended and another has begun.

Daughter Eleni and her boyfriend, Emilio, were scheduled to come from New York City to our home in Massachusetts for the weekend to attend the Grecian Festival at our church in Worcester and for Emilio to meet our extended family and see our home for the first time (although my husband and I had met him on several occasions in New York.)

They were taking the Acela train on Friday to Providence where we would pick them up at 8 p.m. I discovered that the date, June 4, coincided with “Waterfire,” when the river in Providence is lighted with fires along with music and entertainment—so we booked a table at a restaurant overlooking the scene.

The train arrived on time (another rare occurrence) and we were seated in the Waterplace Restaurant just as the sun set. With us were the “Big Eleni” and her daughter Frosso. (Big Eleni came to live with us in 1974, a week before daughter Eleni was born, and she became a second mother to our children and the reason all of them speak fluent Greek. She was married in our Massachusetts house in 1976 and her daughter Frosso is like a younger sibling to our three.)

Daughter Eleni and Emilio produced wrapped gifts for all of us. Mine turned out to be the book “Mother of the Bride” by Ilene Beckerman. Nick’s was a DVD of the 1951 movie “Father of the Bride” starring Elizabeth Taylor as the bride and Spencer Tracy as the FOB. I was starting to get the message.

At that point, tears and hugs of joy erupted and Waterfire was forgotten. Emilio and Eleni had decided to get married sooner rather than later, on October 10, 2010 (“ten-ten-ten” as Eleni repeated throughout the weekend, like a mantra.)

Long before she met Emilio, Eleni had decided that she would be married on ten-ten-ten in the church of Panagia Mandrakina on the Ionian island of Corfu. That idea took root in April of 2008 when she traveled to Ohio for the engagement party of her friend Neela, whose Hindu wedding in Jodhpur, India, we attended in January of last year.

At that engagement party in Strongsville, Ohio, the family accountant/astrologer-- Joshi Uncle-- told Eleni that she would get married in Sept. or Oct. 2010 and that she must wear an emerald to help make this happen. That same weekend I had been trying unsuccessfully to sell my emerald ring in Manhattan, but emerald prices were down, so I gave it to Eleni.

Months before she met Emilio last July, Eleni’s aunt, Thitsa Kanta, who is an expert at reading one’s fate in the coffee grounds left over when drinking Greek coffee, started seeing a letter “E” in Eleni’s cup every time she did a reading. (She turns the cup over in its saucer when it’s down to the dregs, makes the sign of the cross over it, and when she turns the cup back over, the dried sludge has made designs that Kanta can read with uncanny accuracy, although she does like to throw in advice along with the predictions.)

Eleni was introduced to Emilio (who is from Nicaragua) by Neela and her husband Dave in March of last year in the Village Lantern bar in Manhattan where they had all gathered to watch a Duke football game. After they began dating, when Kanta would find an “E” in Eleni’s cup, she would say that it stands for “Evtychia” – happiness. Eleni would suggest that maybe it stood for “Emilio”, but Kanta would answer, “No, Emilio starts with an A”.

On May 24, Eleni and Emilio decided to marry—fulfilling the prophecies of the Hindu astrologer and Thitsa Kanta. But before telling anyone, Eleni called Arete, a cousin who lives in Corfu, to make sure that the church in Corfu beneath the Crusader fortress that looms over the harbor would be available on her special date. It was. Arete even wrangled the Greek priest who would conduct the ceremony and a Catholic priest who would assist.

By the time they told us the news, the couple already knew their wedding colors (blue and white—the colors of the Greek flag and—another magical coincidence—the colors of the Nicaraguan flag as well! )

By Saturday, phone calls announcing the joyful news had traveled round the world. On Saturday morning, Eleni sat in our kitchen and created a web site – -- with information about the couple, how they met, where and when they would wed. When Emilio’s mother in Nicaragua saw the photos on the web site, she shed tears of joy. Back in Grafton we got pretty choked up too. What every parent wants for their child is a mate who will love them and help them cope with the inevitable bumps in the road ahead. Emilio seemed to be the ideal partner for Eleni, sent by the fates all the way from Nicaragua to encounter her in Manhattan.

On Saturday, Greek relatives began to appear to meet the groom. Despite the their aches and pains, two of the four Thitsas (Aunts) came over to sit under the grape arbor by the pool. Nick asked the Big Eleni to bring coffee, but she said no, on this day we must serve only sweet things—she had whipped up plenty of deep-fried loukoumades—like donut holes drenched in honey. Coffee, she said, was bitter and could not be served on such a happy day.

Later we all went to the Grecian Festival where I learned I had sold three paintings in the art exhibit and Emilio –by accident or by divine design—met a third aunt, lots of cousins and nephews and nieces and their offspring and even our Priest Father Dean, who just happened to have with him his brother-in- law who turned out (another coincidence) to be a customer and close friend of Emilio.

On Sunday, we all went to church and Emilio weathered more introductions with great tact and aplomb. At lunch, Nick produced a bottle of Lafitte Rothschild 1966 that he had set aside 36 years ago.

That evening Nick and I drove the newly engaged couple back to Manhattan. Eleni handed me several Bride’s magazines so I could learn my responsibilities as Mother of the Bride. The articles about schedules and favors and invitations and receptions and appropriate dresses sent me into a total panic. Everything needed be done six months to a year in advance and we only had four months!

But Eleni had already made a start on the momentous search for the Bridal Gown. We had an appointment the next day, Monday, she told me, at one of the two places in Manhattan where gowns could be bought off the rack in sample sizes instead of made to order, which took months.

That night, as the four of us dined at an Italian restaurant near Eleni’s apartment, Nick gave the newly engaged couple advice on the secrets of a good marriage and they listened patiently. (“Keep surprising each other every day. Never take your relationship for granted” seemed to be the major message.)

While he pontificated, I pondered how the stars and the gods and the recent full moon had come together to create a magical moment, full of love and joy; a time of new responsibilities and many tasks, but also a time for letting go, preparing to watch my daughter walk down the aisle and into a new life. In one weekend I had been given a new role in life—after three decades of being just a Mom, I had been transformed into a MOB.

Next: How to find the perfect bridal gown in an hour and a half.


lactmama said...


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Pink Granite said...

Wishing you all joy!
- Lee