A little over a week ago my dad got married on the northwestern coastline of Isabella, Puerto Rico. With his toes in the sand and the waves crashing behind him, he recited his vows to his future wife just as the sun was retiring for the evening.
This wedding was your whirlwind event; the type that you’d expect to find at the end of a Hallmark romance movie. It wasn’t a big affair by any means. In fact, regarding design, the ceremony was as simple as could be. Dressed in whites and light colored linens, my father and his fiancée exchanged vows as his hand-picked guests watched in splendor.
What made it a wedding from the movies was not the scale of the event but the timing.
Proposed to on an elaborate cruise ship just five days before the wedding was to take place and only weeks before the holidays, my father’s on-again-off-again girlfriend of four years accepted the proposal of marriage with tears in her eyes, a smile on her face, and love in her heart. She slipped on her extravagant engagement ring not knowing that just a month before, her now soon-to-be husband had already began planning their ceremony.
With only the hope that she would agree, my father visited her family and explained his plans to make her a part of his, as well as his desire for them to witness the vow exchange. With their approval, and without her knowledge, he made the travel arrangements and booked the sleeping quarters for everyone involved. He scheduled a photographer, wrote his vows, purchased a ring, and enrolled her family into secretly helping her choose a white dress that, unbeknownst to her, and if everything went accordingly, would be the dress she would marry him in.
Now a month later, and after all his secret scheming, they slipped off the cruise ship and into paradise as an engaged couple just days away from marriage. They spent the next few days together putting the final touches on the wedding that my father had already prearranged while enjoying the company of their attending guests.
Or at least that’s the story I got from the photos posted to social media as my attendance at the ceremony, along with that of my older sister’s, was nonexistent.
In fact, the only member of my father’s family to attend the big shindig was my little sister, the only minor left in our immediate family who, due to a divorce decree from eleven years ago, splits her home-life between our mother and father. And who consequently, was scheduled to be with my father that weekend.
Now, don’t get me wrong, my older sister and I knew about this spur-of-the-moment, surprise wedding. Just like my now step-mother’s family, we were informed of my father’s plans to wed a month before the event. However, unlike his wife’s family, we weren’t given the courtesy of a visit or even a phone call telling us of his life-altering decision. Nor were we offered paid travel arrangements and sleeping quarters.
Instead, the mode of communication my father chose was that of the ever-impersonal text message; a text message that explained his acceptance of the fact that we may not be able to find the funds or acquire the time off work to fly to Puerto Rico and witness him begin a new chapter in his relationship and in his life.
And if you’re sitting there thinking:
“Dude, grow up. I’ve read your bio page. You’re married, have a four-year degree and work a full-time job. You’re obviously an adult, act like one.”
Please know that I couldn’t agree with you more. I am an adult; one that’s living her own life, following her own dreams, paying her own bills and working hard to start her own family.
However, regardless of my age, I still find myself dealing with a host of emotions concerning how my father chose to conduct his wedding. One minute I’m happy for him; having just gotten married this past June, I know the feeling of wanting to spend the rest of your life with your partner, and it brings me joy to know that my dad is experiencing that with his wife.
But then, I’ll find myself feeling angry, or sad, or hurt. I want to scream and yell and cry when I think about how my dad valued his wife and her family over his two oldest daughters. And every time a photo from the wedding pops up on my new step-sister’s Instagram page and I see that, other than my little sister, not one of our family members are represented, I feel so hurt.
And that’s where I am at the moment; dealing with a roller-coaster of emotions just hoping that I figure them all out so I can keep them in check before spending Christmas day with my “new family” this upcoming week.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re beginning to wonder:
“So…what the fuck is the point of this story?”
The answer: sorry, I don’t know. I don’t think it has one, a point that is. There is certainly no moral to my story nor are there any words of wisdom I can offer to anyone who may also be dealing with daddy-issues this holiday.
I guess I’m writing this post because I can’t “just deal,” or “grow up,” or “get over it.” I’m hurt and angry and frustrated which is exactly not what was on my Christmas wish-list this year. But I guess that’s life; dealing with the unexpected and powering through it the best you can.
So, to anyone else out there dealing with unexpected family changes this holiday season and at a loss on how to make sense of your feelings about the situation you find yourself in, know I’m right there with you wishing you the best of luck.
Until next time,