My daughter, Megan, asked me to speak at her wedding so I’m dedicating this newsletter to my beautiful, brilliant daughter and the man handsome and brilliant enough to capture her heart.
I knew when I first held you in my arms, an adventure was going to happen. So tiny, so perfect, our family was complete. Like the old song said “A boy for you and a girl for me, how happy we will be.” Of course, Chris wasn’t so happy at first. He was trying to figure out how to fit her back in my tummy. But he soon found out he could get away with more stuff because Mom was distracted by his little sister.
What a distraction you were. Before you could even crawl, somehow you rolled from the living room to the dining room where we had a four-foot dieffenbachia that I was planning to give away. I heard a little hacking sound. And there you were. Spitting out the poisonous leaf. Thank God you were still nursing and didn’t know how to chew solid food! Poison Control said give her a popsicle to stop the swelling and I gave myself a shot of brandy.
That was only the beginning of the thrills with Megan. I enrolled her in a gymnastics class when she was three. Chris was in swimming. I had a whole hour to myself every Saturday morning. When I went to get Meg from her class, I heard another mom exclaim, “Look at that little girl climbing all the way up.” I looked up and there she was. She climbed a rope attached to the ceiling and had climbed to the top. Heart palpitations again. When she was ten, we were going to bike the Elroy Sparta Trail as a family. While her father worked to put together four bikes, I went to get the trail passes. She was bored and decided to climb a tree. Going up was easy. Not so easy coming down. She jumped and her foot caught on a branch. Crunch. She broke the growth plate in her wrist. We never did bike the trail, but we had lots of quality family time driving from hospital to hospital in search of an orthopedic specialist to handle her injury.
Megan never walked: she danced, skipped, hopped, scampered, raced. She was always a girl in motion. Under her prettiest dress would be a pair of shorts, so when she did flips, or cartwheels or hung upside down from the monkey bars, her underwear didn’t show. This indomitable spirit carried her through many challenges—from being moved down a math level in fifth grade to not getting the lead role during her senior year in My Antonia, even though her role as Grandmother required more acting ability. Every time life puts an obstacle in her path, she finds a way to hurdle over it. Now Meg and Tim will journey down the path together and help each other over any stumbling block.
Megan loved the great outdoors growing up. We had many family vacations that began with a car trip to some campground several states away. We’d play the alphabet game–boys against the girls. I swear her father cheated. We’d set up our big canvas tent, a relic from our early marriage days when we had more love than money. I’d read the directions, while your dad and Chris constructed the frame. She’d dig in the ashes from the fire pit with a stick. We’d hunker down for the night until somebody pulled off the zipper for the door. Then we’d load everybody in the car, drive to town, hoping for a store that was still open so we could buy something to fix it. So many fond memories. The night she projectile vomited over herr sleeping bag, so I had to set it outside the tent and share mine, while she howled, “I want my pediatrician.” There was the legendary father/daughter Boundary Waters trip. How many days went by until she broke down and used the little orange shovel in the woods? Meg didn’t die in a canoe with aluminum paddles in a lightning storm. Her screams probably scared away any wolves or bears.
I knew Tim was the perfect man for her when I heard he’d spent as many years in South Korea after college as Megan spent in the Middle East. Two wanderers ready to explore the world. So ironic that they lived across the street from each other in Madison and never met until they settled in Brooklyn. Their love was meant to be.
There are two true tests of a relationship. The first one: how you survive a home improvement project. Judging from the sliding doors in your new apartment, I’d say you aced that one. The second test is how you handle the glitches when you travel. Like forgetting to contact UW Credit Union when you’re leaving the country, so you can’t use your credit cards. (Dad to the rescue). Or renting a car when your flight to the Finger Lakes area is canceled and driving five hours at night to get to our campground.(Tim to the rescue on that one.) You scored Exceeds Expectations on both tests.
I’m so glad Tim’s officially part of our family now. His kindness and thoughtfulness are exemplary. I’ve been longing to go see Lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens—an outdoor light show with music. Neither Meg nor Michael wanted to go walking in the cold November night, but Tim went with me. I was so excited to be able to see it.
Soon there will be a third member of your new family. Little Cantaloupe Detrie-McLaughlan. (Megan identifies the baby according which fruit she’s now the size of, started with Little Blueberry. I can hardly wait to meet Watermelon!) The blessings just keep growing.
I’ll end with a piece of parting advice that has served Michael and me well during our marriage. Say ‘I love you’ every day and show it in the little things you do. Like making coffee and folding laundry and taking out the garbage without being asked. Listen with your heart as well as your ears, even though you really want to jump in to share your wisdom. And never go to bed during an argument. Stay up and fight it out.