Behind every wedding you can find a story. The story of this wedding joining two men, Jonathan and Jeff, occurring later this month, begins three generations back, with my older sister Florence, Jonathan's grandmother. She has not lived to attend the wedding and there's no betting that she would even were she alive.
Florence's son Arden, Jonathan's dad, was married and fathered Jonathan, later separating from his wife Anita and entering a gay life with a male partner, Dru. Florence, who grew up in Texas as I did, married young and moved to Colorado where she lived the rest of her life. She had three children, Arden the eldest. Her pride in his not minor accomplishments was marred by a refusal to accept that his marriage ended and he took on a new lifestyle. (Knowledge that our mother accepted my homosexuality seemed to have no currency.) When Arden called from California and said that Dru was there, she asked, "Who is that?"
She may have viewed the story as tragic, but it fell short; all parties ended up fine. There's a close friendship today even between Arden and Anita, his former wife, Jonathan's mother. Only my sister got left out.
And now Arden and Anita's son, my great nephew, found a mate to whom he will be married. "I knew we were right for each other as soon as we met," Jonathan has said. That's heaven smiling broadly down. I wonder what my sister would think if she knew how it has played out -- that her only grandchild whom she loved were soon to marry another man. Would she open her heart to give blessing to something unheard of in her lifetime? I hope so.
In a few days, therefore, a wedding will take place between two men, one in his thirties, the other in his twenties, both smart and successful, or soon-to-be -- an event remarkable today in his lack of remarkability.
Here's where Uncle Stanley comes in. Jonathan and Jeff's wedding joining a long line of such events I've attended or been part of, the question arises of finding a gift. I've got a lot of practice there and normally don't find it a challenge, but here it is, since these two men rank high among the world's most exacting in their tastes.
Allow me at this place to mention that since I've never been the headliner in a wedding, I've yet to be the recipient of a wedding gift (or one for Father's Day, either). I mention this minor injustice that could be remedied if ever were created an Uncle's Day, where I might do nicely.
Besides finding a gift, there's the matter of dress for the wedding reception. The invitation calls for "Cocktail Attire," which I'd like to interpret as offering considerable leeway. I may not agonize over this, but I probably will. Actually, I needn't, since there will be a lot of smarter outfits and smarter looking people to draw attention more than I do or whatever I wear.
Parenthetically, I've noticed that although plenty of gay weddings are taking place these days, there remain couples who live together without its leading to marriage. Then, I know a few instances where two men decided to be married having a tax advantage in mind. That seemed to me pretty unromantic, but I suppose I might do something similar. I've been accused to wanting the honeymoon without the marriage.
Anyway, right now I'm pondering what gift for Jonathan and Jeff would bring sparkle to their eyes. Would a second cat work?
Along the way, I look forward to when the world recognizes that it's past time to pay respect to uncles with an annual Uncle's Day.
Stanley Ely dissects some good and bad of family life in his new book, Life Up Close, a Memoir in paperback and E-book.