Late in life love – it was something I didn’t believe in. I never had any examples of it in my extended family as I was growing up. My grandmother who got separated from her boyfriend, moved in with us when she was 50 and never dated or married again. I thought that was the way it was, living vicariously through children and grandchildren.
But lately I am beginning to believe as more examples than I could have imagined in my younger years start showing up with family members close to my heart. My parents split late in life, after 30+ years of marriage and it rocked me to my core. Through a tough separation and with a whole lot of will, they have both moved on. My father is happily married, settled in his new life with my step mother. My aunt married this summer, to a lovely man she met and fell in love with a few years ago – found strength in her love as he supported her through the death of her mother. And now my mother. After a few years of wandering/soul-searching she found herself open to love and met a warm, kind, and generous person who was open to finding love as well. I couldn’t have been happier for my mom to marry such a wonderful person.
After a few years together, they decided to marry and chose to do it in an intimate ceremony in Keyport, the town that has become my mother’s home these past 30+ years. This was a delicate affair. While my mother and her fiancé had been together for 2+ years, this was the first time each other’s children and grand children would all be together, and many of us meeting for the first time. However, in pre-wedding celebrations, we talked, got to know each other, and let the kids be the guide as they did what they always do, make instant friends and play together.
The day of the wedding was threatened by a tropical storm but luckily never appeared. It was a gorgeous day, and we took advantage by taking formal wedding photographs by the water. While we had fun, my favorite part was seeing my mom and her fiancé, how happy and at ease they were. Even though some of us – okay one of us – were not (Hey, it’s hard getting 5 children between the ages of 9 and 1 to all cooperate at the same time) .
We then moved to the local catholic church, where they were wed in a civil ceremony in the church hall. My mom had two desires: That all the grand-children participate and that her daughters give her away. Her fiancé wanted his sons to stand with him at the altar. Everything else, was determined on the fly.
The ceremony was short but powerful. While intended to be small and intimate, when you’re latina, that doesn’t happen! So we had over 80 guests who had come in from all over. They wanted to see this special moment. And more than a few tears were shed as we watched these two say “I do.”
Then the fun came. There was excellent food. There was dancing, salsa, merengue, good old fashioned rock, and the classic line dances. Everyone socialized, and got to know each other, while the kids took over the dance floor.
But my favorite part of this was the blending of the families. Nine years ago, my sister and I had no idea how were going to handle the new family dynamic of our parents separating. And we spent more than a few phone calls talking about how this would all work for us. But as time went on, we saw that so did life, and love, and our ability to adapt and accept new family dynamics. Now I am so happy and love my step-father and my new step siblings. I loved watching all the children playing and dancing away. The oldest who is a beautiful ballerina, I hope is a role model for my daughter, as she continues her dancing career. My son, loves playing with the youngest one, and I see him as a helpful caretaker as she grows. I have a whole new group of people to love and a whole new group of people who love me and my children. And isn’t that all we want in life? I wish my mom and my step-father a lifetime of happiness. And I’m so blessed to have them in my life.