“Love, even when you don’t feel like it.”
That was the first thought that came to mind as I stared at the stone upon which we’d been asked to write words of wisdom for the bride and groom.
I was honored to be included in this quaint ceremony of close friends and family.
Warren and Beauty and Big Guy and I piled into the van Thursday afternoon and made the scheduled twelve-hour trek to picturesque Dillsboro, North Carolina.
The blinding rains we’d driven through finally subsided mid morning, affording us this gorgeous view from our room.
Even though I grew up in Raleigh and have spent many hours on America’s highways, I’ve never been to the Great Smoky Mountains area.
And were we ever in for a treat!
The wedding venue couldn’t have been more magical!
Sitting high on a hilltop is a Scottish border-style structure called Castle Ladyhawke.
If you’re ever in the area I highly recommend stopping in for a look-see!!
Kid you not, the last original Lynyrd Skynyrd band member was part of a wedding held those grounds on Saturday!
We lounged in the hotel pool and spa with a number of that event’s guests, including non-verbal, nine-year-old Adam, who took an instant liking to Warren and me.
The boy’s father was aghast when the lad jumped into the hot tub and then proceeded to crawl right up into my lap and stroke my hair.
I, on the other hand, though at first surprised by the lad’s actions, felt a sense of joy that this boy obviously took an instant liking to me.
But I’m getting ahead of myself!
Here are Warren and me leaving the hotel.
And here are some family photos taken during the event.
Three generations of women!
Dad with Sis and Me
Fave, Beauty, & Groomsman Big Guy
I know I’m a tad bit biased, but aren’t they quite a lovely lot?
And I know I’m repeating myself, but I am so blessed to have children who are equally beautiful on the inside, humans with hearts the size of a harvest moon…
Not to forget their razor-sharp wit and fun-loving sides!
The first song played for the dance with the bride was “I’m too sexy for my shirt,” and let’s just say it brought out the beast in Fave, who all but removed his shirt as he pranced around the unsuspecting new wife who had yet to meet her cousin!
The look on her face was priceless!
Speaking of fun and humor, the young married couple also shared a bit of laughter at the altar, when the young woman read her handwritten vows, promising “not to keep score, even when I’m totally winning.”
I’m chuckling even as I type those words…
This young couple clearly seems to have a good balance between silly and serious, friendship and family, and love and laughter.
And they seem to have a good grasp of what each other needs and wants for themselves and their relationship.
Symbolism was everywhere.
The bride’s something borrowed and something blue came in the form of swatches of material from one of her father’s shirts, which were marked with the wedding date and sewn into the underside of her gown.
She also surprised her new husband by adding an edible Hulk figurine to the cake, of which I’ve no doubt there is a story behind.
And look at the love emanating from them in this photo!
As magical as the event was, I’ve no doubt that they are both happy to have the ceremony behind them, and are enjoying a much-need honeymoon respite!
Funny, isn’t it, no, not funny really, but ironic…ironic that one of the most joyous and happy days of our lives can be so bloody stressful in the months and days preceding, and then so nerve-wracking the day of!
Yesterday, while they made their way to their destination spot, the rest of us spent time browsing the shops in neighboring downtown Dillsboro and Sylva.
I am so happy to note that these resort regions have remained quaint and humble and untouched by the commercialism that attaches itself to many tourist areas.
We ate the most scrumptious southern pulled pork barbeque at the Dillsboro BBQ restaurant!
And creamy southern coleslaw! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it…
And hushpuppies! Nobody makes them like they do in the south…
I actually don’t have pictures to share because my phone storage was full!
Seriously. I’ve been nursing that space along for weeks now…I think I need to spend more time clearing out and moving images to a more permanent location! Lol
We visited many fabulous little shops but my most favorite was this place.
We’d all just spilled out of the local chocolate factory doorway, when I spotted the entrance.
If you’ve seen one pottery place, you’ve seen them all, I thought.
But the building beckoned me in, anyway, and I’m so glad it did!
This shop sports more than your ordinary bowls and basins and coffee mugs.
I’m talking pottery art crafted by two sister artisans that re-create and capture the essence of myth and history alike.
Additionally, the mother makes exquisite fiber art while a third sister paints on all things tangible.
The stories behind the Saint pieces mesmerized me as I wandered through the shop.
But I fell in love with this Tree of Life sculpture that was clearly waiting for me.
There were four or five of these works scattered around the showroom, but this was the only one that had charms at the bottom of the bead chain.
Look closely at the talisman at the end of the short cord. Do you see it? The squirrel?
My friends often refer to my curious nature as Squirrel Moments.
Not only did I have to take this piece of art home, I had to know what the ornamentations meant.
One of the two women I asked began telling me about the process she underwent when she created these pieces.
Journeyers, I’d like you to meet Penny, one of the three siblings; she was quite shy and nervous when I asked her if I could include a photo of her in this post.
Her face just lit up as she told me about Raku, a Japanese technique for firing pottery.
This method is the opposite of the more common procedure because the pieces are first fired as fast and hot as possible.
Next, the item is sealed in a container with flammable materials, which creates the varying and unique flashes of color and shading.
And then the items are quickly cooled.
As she explained the method, she showed me several of her works and shared with me the special story behind each one.
Her love for her work bubbled over as she talked about this St. Cecilia figure she’d intended to give to her musician husband.
There was a series of trouble spots that nearly caused her to abandon the project, until she read the history behind the patroness of musicians.
Having survived numerous glitches, this ceramic lady stays with Penny, mounted not too far from her workspace.
That’s another thing, Journeyer!!
Their pottery wheels are right there in the shop, where visitors can actually see the place from which the beautiful creations unfolded!!
As magnificent as Penny’s smile!
When I mentioned that I was a writer and wanted to include the photo, Penny asked about my work.
The ensuing conversation, of course, ultimately found its way to Gavin, my son who celebrated his 24th birthday this past Mother’s Day, in heaven.
Em, another woman who’d joined in the conversation, appeared distressed when I shared my child loss.
“Did you have a similar experience?” I asked her.
With difficulty and a little bit of prompting, she told me about her child, Paul, who was born twenty-seven years ago with heart issues.
She apologized several times for her tears.
Paul lived six months before death claimed his physical form.
We shared a hug after I encouraged her not to express regret for her grief, and then she slipped away when Penny and I began talking, again.
“Do you think she’s okay?” I asked Penny.
She was familiar with the woman’s story and told me she was surprised this mother had said anything at all because it was an experience she kept private and closely guarded in her own heart.
I felt honored and humbled and though happy isn’t really the right word, I felt moved by the fact that somehow a sense of trust had fashioned itself into the space between her and me…
Maybe, just maybe, Em experienced a tiny bit of healing in that Moment…
And maybe, just maybe, the mountains of love that exist between her and her son, still and for eternity, are finding ways to stream through the darkness, shaping themselves…fashioning their own magical Rakus of Promise and Hope and Tenderness…
Sending out wishes that we may all live as I encouraged the newlyweds, to “Love, even when you don’t feel like it.”
For it is the combination of that strength and solidarity and steadfastness that shapes and molds our hearts into everlasting bonds…
What about you, Journeyer? What Moment(s) brought a smile to your face or a sense of warmth to your heart this past week?
Yours in healing and happiness,
Here are some additional #HappyHappens moment that didn’t weave their way into this or last week’s post, yet were no less valuable to filling my happy!
On a family outing for ice cream last week, siblings Big Guy and Beauty attached themselves to sibling labs that are looking for homes…
You can imagine the smiles and pleading and puppy-dog-eyes that trained themselves on Warren and I!
AND, I can, but I can’t believe that I haven’t shared our other news and my Mother’s Day gift with you!!
I hesitated to say anything about this first news because I didn’t want to jinx the deal, but we finally have an offer on the house that Warren spent three years gutting and refurbishing and nurturing back to life.
And I do mean nurture…
This abandoned home was full from basement to attic with left behind items of all shapes and sizes…items that mold and mildew had attached themselves to…
The home had been closed up for years with eighteen inches of water filling the basement…
Warren not only restored this humble single-story home, he added a second floor and turned her into a work of grandeur.
Our family on the plantation-style staircase of the restored home
A double dose of #Happy because this event was a surprise planned by Beauty!
Anyway, after a year of sitting on the market, the right buyer has found her and she is under contract, with an expected closing in the next few weeks!
We are so relieved, knowing that we can finally pay off the loans we took on to complete this project!
I knew Warren was up to something last week when he informed me he’d be gone all day the day before Mother’s Day, but I was totally blown away by what he presented me with Mother’s Day morning!
We had a full day on Mother’s Day and though it was a busy day, I wanted to be sure to submit this post on that day, as opposed to letting it spill over into Monday, as I’ve been known to do…
I chose to spend the limited time focused on certain things, and though this gift wasn’t in that piece, it definitely was at the top of my #HappyHappens list!
Can you stand it??
I’m definitely not a material person, but I have had this little dream of one day owning a Datsun 280z, a car that I coveted all through high school and college and somehow never really outgrew.
Journeyer, this year also marks our 25th wedding anniversary, so Warren outdid himself, finding a feisty little gal with low mileage, a solid body but in need of a little interior and exterior TLC, and at a bargain basement price that just can’t be beat!
Journeyer, let me introduce you to Zee…
She’s been sitting in a barn for almost sixteen years, so we’re going to do a full mechanical service and inspection check before putting her on the road!
I’m waiting as patiently as I can to get her on the road! AND, one of the most exciting parts of it all?
She’s a 5-speed!!
5-SPEED is how I spell OVERJOYED!
All my very best to you and yours in the coming week, Journeyer!! J