by Katie Ammon
Recently, we have been learning about human emotions in our Game of Life class at Earthsong. According to the Ageless Wisdom teachings, disease is caused by uncontrolled emotions which over-stimulate the cells of the body. To keep ourselves in balance, by neither getting over-stimulated nor by losing interest in the world around us, we need to keep adjusting our attitudes or take the middle way.
This spring, I experienced vacillating emotions trying to decide to attend my brother Phil’s second marriage celebration. Of course, I wanted to go but there was an inner voice, telling me to think about it more carefully. My quandary wasn’t due to any difficulty with my brother or any family member, nor was it the three hour drive.
After thinking about it for a while, I remembered his first wedding was a series of up and down events that left me feeling exhausted. It led me to wish that my family had better luck and more dignity when celebrating special occasions.
For the first wedding, I had to make sure everything was in place at home so I could be gone for a few days. My husband agreed to stay home, tending our dairy herd. Our handicapped son had recently been admitted to a school/full time care facility and it was not his weekend to be home. That meant I only had to be responsible for our twelve year old son and five year old daughter: and I had to gather the items requested by my brother-in-law, John. He had called the week before and said we really had to decorate Phil’s car as a comeback for all the practical jokes he had played on everyone over the years. We had worked it all out, that since he and my sister were traveling from Colorado and I lived closer, I would bring the supplies. These included a half dozen holey old barn shoes, twine, a mess of tin cans from the recycle bin and a pound of limburger cheese. His main responsibility was to be the decorator.
So I packed the car “stuff” in the trunk and packed up the children’s and my clothes, filled the car with gas and we headed out for the two and a half hour drive to Davenport, IA.
The first order of business when I arrived at my parent’s home was to hand-off the “decorations” to John. Since my brother was still sleeping, we began conversing as we unloaded the trunk, to mask what we were up to. Soon we had gotten plain silly and the energy was fairly high. I told him I still helped on the farm and did a lot of shoveling. He said the Air Force had him under Cheyenne Mountain, and his job was to yell, “Everybody duck!” in the event of a nuclear attack. Some of the family came by and gave us puzzled looks, wondering what we were up to. Finally, he changed into some coveralls and began to tie the stuff under the car. Meanwhile, I was trying to act as if everything was normal, bit my lip and began socializing with some of my siblings. Soon we were told it was time to go to the church. I said I wasn’t sure how to get there and asked if someone could make me a map or give me directions. My father told me not to worry, it wasn’t that far and to follow him in his car. We had gone about three miles into the city, when my father shot through a yellow light. Thinking we would be safe and not knowing the way, I decided to follow. Immediately, one of Davenport’s finest had a red light flashing in my rearview mirror. At that time, I felt a bit shaken, fearful and anxious. Then I felt anger at myself for listening to my father and not demanding a simple map. Then I felt relief: at least the children and I were safe.
The officer said, “Miss, you just ran a red light.”
I said, “I know, I was following my father to a wedding and he ran the yellow light.”
The officer explained, the lights changed every fifty seconds, and you need to be more careful but since I was from out of state, he would only give me a warning, this time. Then I asked for directions to the church. He said it wasn’t far and to follow him. Thinking, here we go again, I followed him to the church. That was how I got a police escort to my brother’s wedding.
Thinking about how insane that was, I decided not to say anything as I did not want to create a commotion on Phil and Wendy’s special day. The wedding went off without a hitch. Then we adjourned to Wendy’s parent’s home for the reception. The wedding party stayed behind for a photo shoot.
At the house, a young man, I think he was Wendy’s brother, asked if I would like something to drink. Still feeling jittery from my police encounter, I told him I would like a glass of white wine, if they had it. He returned with a full wine glass and handed it to me. Unfortunately, when I took a sip, it turned out to be water. I wondered if my brother had married into a family who, similar to him, liked practical jokes.
We, the guests at the reception, waited and waited for the bridal party to finish the photo shoot. A lot of worry and anxiety was running through the gathering. About two hours later, we got word they had arrived. Wendy came in alone and ushered in the groomsmen and ushers, who were carrying my brother. She told them to lay him down on the floor of the family recreation room. The story filtered down, that Phil decided to have the photographer take a shot of him bending over his new wife to give her a kiss.
Even though my brother is six feet one inch, he must have forgotten that his new wife was at least an inch or more taller than he. He had stirred up an old injury from a fractured disc, and was twisted sideways, unable to move. The groomsmen and ushers had to carry him out of the church and put him in a van to get him to the reception.
Of course, we, the siblings, couldn’t refrain from the wise cracks. These went from “Marriage isn’t really that scary”, to “The first fifty years are the hardest-then it gets better”, to “What are you trying to do, get out of the honeymoon?”
Meanwhile, Wendy’s father and stepmother were conferring about what to do. They made a decision to find a chiropractor who would make a house call on a Saturday afternoon. After a few calls they found someone. Almost an hour later, the chiropractor showed up and adjusted my brother.
Since the reception was now running three hours behind schedule, the children were becoming restless, especially the twelve youngest ones under age seven. Someone said they were tearing up some of the gardens. I told my family it was time for me and the children to leave. They protested that we still hadn’t had any cake. So I waited another twenty minutes, had some cake and then headed for McDonalds.
The second marriage celebration in June 2016 was less eventful. Beyond the three hour drive to Des Moines with my husband, I felt hardly any stress. We missed the two siblings who couldn’t attend. Of course there was a bit of sadness for my parents and two brothers-in-law who had passed away. A few of the now-grown-up children from the first time attended. The reception was late again, due to the caterers. The atmosphere was calmer, perhaps because we were all older and had learned to readjust our attitudes when something unsettled or unplanned happens in life.
Since the first wedding was exceedingly challenging emotionally, on my way through it I kept going to my mind to try to rationalize everything that was occurring. I kept a quiet place in my mind to stay calm. The policeman was helpful when I explained the situation coolly and with logic. After a brief start, I remained calm when I received water instead of wine. Leaving early was a logical choice as the children hadn’t had food since morning. So from what I learned in our class, using the mind to adjust my attitudes was a positive way to handle the situations. Even wishing my family could have less of a circus atmosphere and better outcomes with events, seems to be a positive thing. The teachings say that hoping for something better that one doesn’t have, is positive.
So now, my newest wish is that my brother’s second marriage lasts a really long time.