Monday, May 25, 2009 R.S.V.P.

When Dave and I were planning our wedding 15 years ago we sent invitations to a lot of people we knew would not attend. We were planning an outdoor, white tent, casual reception to celebrate our marriage that had begun in January of that year at a very intimate ceremony. It would take place at my parents acreage in Canada, while the vast majority of David's friends and family were in Scotland. He had only decided to stay here a few months prior when I swept him off his feet...but that's another story. In response to our invitation most of the guests from Scotland went out and bought RSVP cards to mail back to us. One special person in particular sent us a card to express her dismay at not being able to attend.

Winnie Huggins lived across the street from David in Aberdeen. She had been there as long as they had lived on Craigton Road (since David was three). She was a spinster and didn't have family living near. So David and his parents did what they could to help her out. Fetching groceries, taking her to appointments and David's job was to fill her coal bucket from the bin outside. She wasn't a demure and sweet old lady. She had feist. When David told me about her I knew she would be a kindred spirit. Cranky, spirited, mischievous and with a touch of soft and gooey on the inside. She had a string of cats, all named Fluffy and all as cranky as her! She lived in a large old house on a piece of land that was owned by the city council and when they approached her to give notice of eviction so that they could build a seniors residence she fought them tooth and nail. In the end they agreed to build her a new residence on the property and consider her under their care. She suffered from diabetes and had a lot of trouble with her legs. She'd had multiple surgeries and treatments but healing was slow or non existent and she was unable to get around very well. Dave went over to check on her one afternoon and she didn't answer the door. Of course it was locked and he was forced to break in a window to make sure she was ok. She had fallen and as procedure dictated he notified her caregivers who in turn called an ambulance. When they arrived she was quite dismayed with all of the hubbub. Not only did she insist that the paramedics get the hell off her property but they should have David arrested for breaking into her home. I couldn't wait to meet her.

Her RSVP to our wedding invitation read "It would give me great pleasure to see you both thoroughly engaged in matrimony" but naturally she would have to decline. Those words "thoroughly engaged in matrimony" became emblazoned in my memory. I was completely smitten by this woman and the depth in which she could describe our union. She seemed truly delighted that David had found matrimonially bliss. In fact there was almost a cheekiness to her response. As if she was taunting us. I loved it! Winnie passed away two years later, only months before my first trip to Scotland. I never got to meet her.

6 years ago we were anticipating the birth of our daughter. We didn't know she would be a "she" so we had lists of names to consider of both gender. On our list of girl names we included Winnie. It had been on the list for years to be truthful. In the end we settled on Meg (the name of another dear old friend in Scotland). We had tried to work Winnie into the name but somehow it just didn't fit. We have a new list of names (of both genders) as we await the arrival of this baby. I have revisited many of the names we considered 6 years ago. And when thinking about Winnie I was reminded of that RSVP. "...thoroughly engaged in matrimony..." It made me think about this ritual of marriage. This need to be honoured and seen as you make the tranformative journey from bride to wife, from groom to husnband. To have all of the people that have helped to shape you come together to bare witness to this shift in your life's path. As if not having them there would leave them behind in your old life and not give them the frame of reference to journey forth with you and your spouse as you forge ahead in partnership. As a society our reverence for this ritual has wained. I wish we honoured it more "thoroughly" on a soul level.

The next rite of passage for most couples after marriage is the journey to becoming parents. This incredible time of tranformation, unfolding and growth is now most often marked by medical-like notations in a baby book and a baby shower to play silly games and place wagers on the sex and weight of the new arrival. Most times leaving the father completely out of the picture. I am craving something different. I am wanting to connect with everyone that has seen me unfold as a mother over the last 6 years. I am hungry to have people dear to me bare witness to me as I am "thoruoghly engaged" in gestation. I want all of the people I love to admire my ripening body and see that at 36 I have found the youth and innocence of a maiden once again. I want to connect to this energy and ensure that I bring these people forward with me as I journey onwards from here.

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