The thought entered my head when we were almost there and a pit of anxiety formed in my belly.
Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Why had I let the month go by without realizing that I needed to do something?
But now it was almost too late. We were already on our way to my in-laws 50th anniversary party, a momentous occasion, and I had nothing to say prepared.
Not that I wanted to say anything. I hate hate hate speaking in public. But of course, I did want to say something, because they deserved to have something said.
It’s not too late, my brain reminded me. The party wasn’t starting for at least 2 hours. You can do it.
I didn’t know if I could.
Just in case, I started writing and re-writing sentences in my head, until finally I had something I could work with; not perfect, but without the cushion of time and the comfort of my computer room, it wasn’t half bad.
We got to the party and bright smiling faces I had known for years filled my sister and brother-in-law’s lovely backyard. I made nice and chatted but kept sneaking off to the bathroom or a quiet corner to repeat the sentences in my head.
I think I can I told myself, but didn’t even have to imagine the heart palpitations and the light headed feeling I’d get when I thought how I might trip over my words, lose my train of thought and embarrass myself.
By the time my sister and brother-in-law took to the mike to welcome everyone and say a few words, I was completely stressed and also annoyed by my own pathetic insecurity.
Just stand up and do it.
They were almost done; beautiful and poised, words rolling off their tongues, easy smiles on their lips. It was all so casual and warm. All of a sudden my thoughts felt practiced and wrong.
It was now or never.
It was never.
I let the moment go when they easily transitioned to the grandkids showing off some talents. It was a relief.
And a huge disappointment.
I’m home now and it’s after 11pm but the sentences I practiced in my head that never came out of my mouth are still stuck there, waiting. So like the writer coward I am, I’m going to say them here, where it’s safe, even though I realize that for 90% of you, it will be totally meaningless and confusing.
But they will understand…
…So I was just trying to remember the first time I met Winnie and Hal. It must have been at the bungalows, but somehow I managed to overlook your smiling faces laughing with your friends on the lawn, eating or drinking. Ok, drinking. But I was young and only saw myself and of course that cute boy who turned out to be your son.
In my memory I first see you at your house in Brooklyn. It was so long ago, it’s only flashes really, of Coke cans and bags of bagels, newspapers and the sound of baseball on the television flipping back and forth from the Yankees to the Mets, to the Yankees to the Mets, Yankees, Mets…
There are a few too many adult males walking around in their underwear, but Grandma Helen is at the kitchen sink calling me Shayna Maidel, and a teen-aged Pamela who was a mystery to me with her dark lipstick, big hair and bigger clothes disappears in an overstuffed room that was very easy to disappear into.
And I know right away that this family is special, crazy… but special. Because at the heart of it all are two people so warm and wonderful. So caring and kind. So down to earth and genuine; so obviously devoted to each other and their family that I can’t help but sit myself right down at the kitchen table, open up the funnies and have myself a bowl of cereal.
So thank you for always making me feel loved and part of your family. For always being there with wise words and open arms. For giving me the gift of your wonderful son. And for showing me that love isn’t always in grand gestures but in making his coffee extra hot, and holding her close when you dance.
Here’s to you and the beautiful life you have created and the beautiful people who you are.
I love you.
Your daughter in law