Of the 28 people who attended the wedding, about half were from Brian's side - his parents, sister, aunt and uncle and cousins. The other half were Laura's immediate family only. Not present at the wedding were Laura's numerous aunts and uncles and even more numerous cousins. She has a large family; her mom Nancy has seven siblings and her dad Art has seven, and most of these people have children as well. They will be seeing Laura and Brian at a holiday family gathering in December here in Seattle.
I sat in the front row on the bride's side at the ceremony, between my husband Art and his ex-wife Nancy. We were all happy to be there together. Art and I have been together for 20 years; Nancy and her husband Clete for nearly that long. We don't see each other often, but we're cordial. And on this day we were also proud.
When Art and I got together his youngest son Greg was five years old and his older daughter Melissa was eighteen. My son James was twelve and my son Russ was fourteen. I was mom or stepmom to eight children. Two of Art's children - including Laura - lived with us for several years. Two others of them visited us on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other weekend for nearly ten years. As I looked around at Laura's wedding, I remembered when all of Art's children were younger. I played a part in the raising of most of them, and today I have a relationship with every one. I felt comfortable sitting in the front row at the wedding. During the ceremony, Laura gave a red rose to all four of her parents - to her stepdad Clete and her mom Nancy, to her Wicked Stepmother Linda and to Art, her Pops.
Last spring, when we asked Laura how we could help with the wedding, she asked us to make sure her siblings could be at the wedding in Mexico. That meant airfare for a few, plus frequent reminders about getting passports. Mission accomplished.
Three of our sons - one of Art's and both of mine - could not attend the wedding. If I ruled the world all of them would have accepted our offer of airfare and cleared their calendars, but that's not always possible. As it turned out, the people who arrived in Akumal were the ones who were supposed to be there after all.
When I was a young woman, I visualized being married and having children and living my whole life with that family. Instead, I married and had children, then divorced and remarried and acquired stepchildren. They are all my family, this configuration. I'm a lucky woman.