This weekend on Grand Manan has been all about
On May 28, my grandparents - affectionately known as "Mam and Bap"- celebrated sixty years of marriage.
Mam and Bap were both born in a little community called Ingalls Head on the island of Grand Manan. Their childhood homes were less than a quarter mile apart and both are within view of the home where they've spent the last 60 years.
It's a home with a lot of happy memories for my cousins and me. Packing our "diddy bags" for an overnight visit (I always hoped for the squashy bed in the pink room) ... endless games of "Mother May I?" in the back yard in summer... endless games of "Go Fish" and "Crazy Eights" at the kitchen table in winter (But never on Sunday!)... the ever-present container of home-made cookies in the pantry cupboards.
The family has grown and changed over the years but here are some things you can still count on at "Mam and Bap's": morning coffee is served promptly at 10 each day, Bap's peas always taste best when swiped directly from the garden, the cellar floor will be clean enough to eat off and every year Mam celebrates her 39th birthday. Around five o'clock every Sunday, for as long as I can remember, supper is laid out for all who want to join. (Today promises to be a packed house as we polish off the cooking from yesterday's party.)
Most of all, it's a house full of love, hugs and playful teasing where the forty-year-olds are just as likely to snuggle up to "my Bap" as the five-year-olds.
For six decades, Mam and Bap have been the centre of a universe of orbiting children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It's all happened in a tiny village on a tiny island but seeing the family and friends who turned out to celebrate them yesterday, it's a very vast and rich world indeed.
If my grandparents' 60-year-marriage is rooted in one small community, the most recent newlyweds in my life encircle the globe. Lori grew up on an island in the Atlantic (Grand Manan) and Leon grew up on an island in the Pacific (Australia). They met on a mountain in the middle (Banff). On January 1, 2008, Lori and I had a conversation that went like this:
"I think I should marry Leon."
"Sweetie, we all think you should marry Leon."
The fact that she had not seen him since the previous January seemed oddly and happily irrelevant.
The full story of how she ended up on a plane to Australia to marry a man she hadn't seen in over a year constitutes another post (movie) entirely but it suffices to say that on May 11, 2008 my dear friend skipped down a beach in Melbourne and the new - and aptly-named - "Mrs. Quick" never looked back.
One of the wonderful things about this round-the-world adventure is that it's spread the rituals involved in uniting two families over a long period of time. This weekend we welcomed Leon's delightful mother Fran - previously known to all but Lori only through Skype, Facebook and wedding videos - to our big Grand Manan family.
It likely wasn't easy for Fran to send her beloved son halfway around the world but from the looks on Mr. and Mrs. Quick's faces, it was worth it.
So as we celebrate loves new and old, my wish is that Mam and Bap stay as goofily in love as Lori and Leon and Lori and Leon have as long and happy a marriage as Mam and Bap.
Here's some Nat King Cole to sing us out...