Weekend Snapshots 48, or: Amor vincit omnia


Twenty years ago, I woke up early in the morning and crawled into bed with my mother. I was going to be married later that day in an outdoor ceremony and I had been fretting all week over the iffy-looking weather forecast. We flipped back and forth from one TV channel to another to compare the different local weather reports, which were all  slightly different. My mother humored me by agreeing that the most believable forecast was the one with the most favorable prediction.

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Even if it did rain, my mother reassured me, it would mean good luck for our marriage. She soothed me by repeating: “Showers of blessings” like a mantra. It eventually did rain that day, though not until we moved indoors after the ceremony.

Our twentieth anniversary was on Wednesday, but my husband and I decided to celebrate the occasion on Friday. Leading up to the day, we were both privately scrambling to figure out a way to mark such a momentous milestone. In desperation I turned to my 11 year old daughter for advice:

“What do you think I should get Dad for our twentieth anniversary?”

She didn’t have an answer for me, but she laughed out loud and said, “Daddy asked me the very same thing!”

My husband finally took matters into his own hands and announced that he was going to pick me up from work and whisk me off to a secret destination. On Friday, the weather was not just iffy – it was downright dismal. The rain was coming down in sheets. My husband kept sighing and saying, “Too bad the weather’s going to be so awful for our rugged hike in the mountains…”


The last time I got dragged up a mountain…

We drove through the rain for a little more than an hour, past the neighborhood where we bought our first house together, through little hamlets, and past fields of cows and horses. The whole way there, he kept tutting about how our picnic on the mountainside would be ruined, while I gave him serious side eye and badgered him to tell me where we were really going.

The secret was finally revealed when we pulled into Washington, Virginia and to the Inn at Little Washington. We were first ushered to a beautiful foyer with a crackling fire…

IMG_9769and then to “Anniversary Row.”


Everybody sitting to the left and right of us was celebrating an anniversary. The waiter asked each couple how many years they had been married, and as we overheard the answers from the other tables, we were very proud to have been married the longest! IMG_9784

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From the violin recital…


…to the soccer field:


We went to a party later that evening. Our hosts had devised an ingenious adult scavenger hunt with stops along the way for wine and sake tastings complete with paired hors d’oeuvres.  As we hiked through the woods and up to the top of the mountainside to find the grand prize, I remarked to my husband: “We’re having our anniversary hike, after all!”:


The Grand Prize


Our last day of choir:


This boy’s Confirmation:

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She ain’t heavy, she’s my sister…


Purple Passion afternoon tea break with my buddy…

I rejoined my family for dinner and then got dropped off at another friend’s to head to the Downtown Mall…

You may have seen the news about a group of torch-bearing, knuckle-dragging Neo-Nazis who marched in Lee Park in Charlottesville on Saturday. On Sunday night, a much larger group of people gathered at the park and vowed to love and protect each other.

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This is the Charlottesville I know and love.

Some days the rain will fall. Some days a band of retrograde half-wit Nazis will try to spew their hatred in your beautiful little town. In the end, love conquers all and showers us with blessings. That’s the forecast I want to believe.

Golden, Pt. 3

My brother Teddy gave me permission to publish the speech he gave at my parents’ 50th anniversary party:

Teddy's speech

One day when I was about ten years old my father came home with a big metal hoop and a pile of twine. I thought it was strange. What could anyone want with this junk? But when I woke up the next morning he had woven a perfect net out of twine and strung it onto the hoop to make a fishing net, better than anything you could buy at a store.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. When I went to bed there was a pile of junk on the living room floor. When I woke up it had been transformed into something beautiful and valuable. I bet you didn’t know your daddy could do that, my mother exclaimed. Despite herself, she was very impressed.

Later that day my father and I went fishing. Not the lame kind of fishing where you stand around with a pole all day and go home with nothing. Dad stood knee deep in the water and every time he dipped the net into the water it came out full to the brim with wriggling fish. I was amazed. I thought, Who is this man? Even the fish obey him!

Within an hour we filled two gigantic lawn bags full to the top with fish. There were at least 200 pounds of fish all told.

We got home late at night and when we dragged the fish in to the kitchen my mother’s jaw dropped. It’s too many! How am I going to clean all these fish before they spoil?

We hadn’t thought of that.

My mother stayed up all night, scaling, cleaning, and gutting fish, and by the next morning, the mountain of fish had been filleted and frozen. I couldn’t believe my eyes. When I went to bed there was a waist-high pile of dead fish on the kitchen floor. When I woke up it had been transformed into something valuable.

I don’t know how she did it, but somehow your mommy cleaned all those fish, my father exclaimed. Despite himself, he was very impressed with my mother.

I’ll never forget this incident. Imagine what it does to the world view of a little boy to realize that his parents are complementary parts of a whole, that they complete and reinforce each other; that the reason they can take care of everyone around them is because they work together. This is the secret to becoming a pillar of strength.

My parents can move mountains. They can start with nothing and before you know it they will turn it into something that you couldn’t even imagine. Something you didn’t know you needed until you can’t live without it.

Together my parents built a seminary which has produced countless ministers, who are out teaching the gospel on every corner of the planet. What a monumental undertaking. It can only be understood as my parents’ labor of love. Love of the gospel. Love of God. And love for each other.


It’s true. My parents can move mountains. But the most amazing thing they ever did for me was to build the loving family that has been my pillar of strength. They gave me the gift of three siblings with whom to navigate this crazy, complicated, sometimes painful, sometimes staggeringly beautiful life. As I watched my brother give his speech (through tears – damn him!), I was filled with a sense of deep gratitude for having had the privilege to grow into adulthood with these people. I think what I’ll treasure most about my parents’ anniversary party and the week we spent at the beach right after the party, is the time my brother and sisters and I had to reconnect and strengthen our bonds.

After that car ride to the restaurant, we made a special effort to spend some time with just the four of us again. One night, after all the children had been put to bed, we went to the Fenwick Boardwalk and shared stories that had us laughing so hard we were crying:

Our CrossFit gym-owning, paleo-diet following, clean-living, super-healthy brother even consented to take a token lick of cotton candy in solidarity with his not-so-fit sisters:

Now that’s love…and I couldn’t imagine living without it!

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Invitation handmade by my sister

Invitation handmade by my sister

I’m not kidding when I say that my siblings and I have been planning my parents’ Golden Anniversary party for years. We’re fortunate in that our sister plans parties professionally. She works with all the best vendors. She has a discerning eye, impeccable taste, and knows exactly what she wants. Over the course of the year, she’s been letting us know what that is with increasing intensity and animation.

The morning of the party, as she was driving my siblings and me to the venue so we could get set up, she cleared her throat and said, “Adrienne has informed me that I owe you all an apology for riding you all like a witch on a flaming broomstick for the past year as we prepared for Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary party…So, I’m so sorry.  Thank you for being patient, and bearing with me, and for all your help!”

My sister Annabelle replied, “OK, but you’ll have to apologize to us after the party too, because I’m sure you’ll be really b*$%@-y to us during the party!”

When we arrived at the restaurant, the harried-looking florist was putting the finishing touches on his gorgeous arrangements.

As we were admiring his work, he confessed, “I do $600,000 weddings and I always sleep like a bear. I didn’t sleep a wink last night, because I was so nervous.” Apparently, my sister had been riding his ass too.

The big unanswered question was what my mother would wear. We begged her to wear a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, but she outright refused. She insisted that she was going to wear a pink t-shirt and black stretchy pants. To the many, many alternatives we suggested, she demurred. The evening before the party, we had dinner at Peking Gourmet Inn for some of our out of town guests.

At dinner, my aunt, who traveled all the way from California with her daughter to come to the party, joined our chorus of pleas and urged my mother to get dressed up. Finally, my mother promised to wear something “special,” though she wouldn’t tell us what it was.

When she finally entered the room, she was wearing….

a pink t-shirt, black stretchy pants, and a white blazer! She looked perfect, of course!

More tomorrow…

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16 years ago today…

…I married the man, who would sixteen years later abandon me and our three children on our anniversary and on Mother’s Day to go gallivanting around Poland, of all places. O.K., so maybe he’s not actually gallivanting…but STILL!

At least my daughter cares. Yesterday, we were in the grocery store and happened to be going past the candy aisle. She slowed down and said, as she expansively gestured in the general direction of the Jelly Belly dispensers, “Mommy, you can pick aaaaanything you want from the store for your anniversary and Mother’s Day present and I promise I’ll pay you back when we get back home.”

Me & T

I take comfort in the fact that with any luck, Colin will have many, many more years to make it up to me.

Wszystkiego dobrego z okazji rocznicy. Kocham Cię!


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