My friend and Mah Jongg buddy Diane started planning the wedding a year ago. That was when she booked my rental apartment for some of the guests. Her husband’s daughter was to have a commitment ceremony here on the island with her long time partner. There is a pretty old church here and a lady minister. The church and the minister are progressive leaning and theologically liberal; they welcome gay and lesbian unions. The island’s fundamentalists have gone their separate ways and started their own “chapel” at the Grange.
Lummi Island is a favorite setting for summer weddings. The weather is almost always good in August, cool and sunny, and the scenery is stunning. Diane groomed her yard to perfection and reserved a number of tables and chairs from the mainland to set up the reception dinner in her the back yard with its view of Hales Passage and Mt Baker. The front yard, with its view of Legoe Bay and Orcas Island, was where cocktails would be served. Her cozy cottage would not be large enough for 70 guests.
The first sign of trouble was when the ferry broke down in early June. But after about a week it was fixed temporarily. Then, suddenly, the county decided to advance the date of drydock, the time when we have a passenger ferry only, from September to early August. That meant there would be no way to get the tables and chairs across the water. Quickly Diane booked the Grange for the dinner. Cocktails would still be in the yard, front and back, and she borrowed some vehicles (our van was one) to transport people the mile ride to the grange. She hired John Granger‘s elegant buggy and trotters to take the brides and their attendants to the Grange for the dinner reception.
A week before the wedding, at Thursday night Mah Jongg, Diane was beginning to be nervous about the Saturday weather. The long range forecast had been predicting a 30% chance of rain for some weeks, but the odds still seemed good.
She was worried, too, about where all her house guests would sleep. She could utilize some sofas and tents in the yard. But the mother of the other bride had announced her intention to bring a Muslim exchange student she had befriended and he was prevented by his religion from sleeping on the floor or in a tent. Diane didn’t know what to do about that. I was surprised at the tent prohibition — I thought Muslims sometimes lived in tents — but I suggested the futon in my rental apartment which Diane had already booked. In the end the Muslim exchange student didn’t come, so I didn’t get to write a post entitled “The Muslim Slept on the Futon.”
On Thursday morning before the wedding day Mike came by to borrow our van and get some additional flower pots for the decorations. He showed us his to do list which Diane had printed out. Diane’s pre-retirement job had been to plan routes for the Seattle buses. She was a planner. Mike’s list was timed to the hour and color coded for grandchildren to engaged in certain chores. The list was pages long. He said it actually saved him. He didn’t need to think, just follow instructions.
The weather, which up to then had been perfect, was beginning to look iffy. It was overcast. They were predicting showers for the wedding Saturday. Saturday came. It was raining, hard. Mah Jongg players called each other, saying, poor Diane, hope it clears. I went out in the rain and cut bunches of hydrangeas and sweetpeas to take to Diane for use as Grange decorations. As I delivered the flowers to her house Mike emerged looking harried. He said, “Diane’s still at the Grange. I forgot to take the meat for the dinner out of the freezer last night. Now I have it in the bathtub in hot water, thawing.”
A few minutes later Diane came by my house for flowers. I said, “ I took them to your house. Sorry to hear about your problem with the meat.” She looked horrified. “Problem with the meat, what problem?” I explained. “Oh my God!” she said, and rushed off. It was raining really hard.
Afternoon came, and the downpour intensified. Jerry and I had been invited for cocktails and dinner, so I called Cathy, who was helping with the cocktails, to ask whether I should skip that part, since Diane’s house was really too small for a lot of people. Cathy said come.
The house was jammed but everyone was jolly. It is astonishing how many people can fit in a small space. John Granger was taking grandchildren and others on rides around the island in his carriage.
There was lots of wonderful salmon, smoked for the occasion by Steve Thatcher. Everyone looked happy, and the brides were both radiant. They each have 4 children who were there and having a ball. Joy, the tall bride, had on a fitted strapless wedding gown that clung to her marvelous figure. Donna, Mike’s daughter, the short bride, wore white leather motorcycle pants and a lacy shirt. She had a yellow daisy in her hair. The brides and all the attendants wore dark glasses with white rims.
Dinner went off without a hitch. The meat had thawed in time, and catering was done by some island neighbors.
The Grange was overflowing with flowers and gladness and there was dancing in the rain on its new deck.
Among the many toasts was a thank you for the new Washington “Everything but marriage” law which provides the same legal status as marriage to gay and lesbian couples. That law is under attack in this fall’s election; there is a ballot initiative to repeal it. I wonder why the people who are behind the initiative want to prohibit others from such happiness as I saw on that rainy August evening.