The Anniversary Project: It's not a good party until the cops show up (Or, the worst possible wedding do-over you could imagine)
You see, JP, a sleeping Flybaby and I arrived at the beach about a half-hour before the big event was supposed to happen. JP decided to pull up to the beach pavilion and let me out so I could assemble the two-tiered cake (one tier of which I had been holding on my lap during the drive) and unhand Seaster's bouquet as well.
In my eagerness to see what impression this beautiful cake would have on everyone, I didn't even notice what was going on until a strange woman clad in a swimsuit and a beach towel snapped at me, "Don't touch my stuff!" I had just set the cake down on a picnic table, and I realized there were about a dozen people having a party there. In our pavilion. The one I rented about two months ago.
My mother, whom I'd barely said hello to in the name of trying to finish up the cake and help JP find a place to park (remember the seafood festival going on, making parking scarce?), told me the other group of people wouldn't leave.
Me: But we have a permit. The sign. You put the sign up in the morning, didn't you?
Mother: No. Mick was going to do it this morning, but when he saw a party going on here already, he decided he'd just come back later.
Me: Oh, no! I told Seaster the permit had to be up in the morning so people knew they had to leave by the time listed on the permit!
Mother: Mick didn't want to be rude.
I look over at Mick, who's Seaster's best friend (think Will & Grace), who was at that moment on the phone calling the city parks & rec to tell them about the pavilion squatters.
Even JP tried to be helpful.
JP: I'm sorry to interrupt, but we have rented this pavilion for a renewal of vows, and --
Irate Woman: This is a public beach! We don't have to leave!
Irate Woman refused to do anything unless, she said, the police came.
So Mick then called the police.
Meanwhile, none of the decorating that my mother had planned on doing two hours beforehand had been done.
I ended up moving my precious baked confection to one side seat of the picnic bench, which is all that the other partygoers would allow for the party food, decorations, etc.
My cake. On the seat of a picnic bench.
I went back to our car, which wasn't supposed to be parked where it was, where Fly was still asleep, and say hello to some more of my Seaster's family who were arriving.
A police officer showed up and spoke with Irate Woman.
Irate Woman: You're going to break up the birthday party of a little 6-year-old boy!
Officer: Your party has been going on for more than six hours!
The other family begrudgingly packed up their things -- leaving lots of wet sand on the floor of the pavilion -- and my mother and Seaster's sons hurriedly tried to decorate.
I think my nephews (24, 22 and 17) must have moved the table where my cake was about five times. One of those times, the cake fell apart. Before I got a picture. Before Seaster arrived. My cake, my piece de beautiful baked goodery, was ruined!
Then my mother announced quietly she couldn't find the rings she was going to surprise the happy couple with.
The minister stood by, cautiously watching this drama unfold and perhaps noting how late we were in starting this shindig, while I tended to Flybaby. My mother complained about the volume of the music coming from the seafood festival.
After the picnic tables were finally in the right places, the ballons were up, the tulle wrapped around the columns and the rings found in my mother's rental car, the minister put on his robe and gathered everyone around.
Now nothing else mattered except Seaster and Ron. I noticed for the first time the cool breeze coming in from the ocean, the amazingly blue sky and the ability of Seaster's eyes to actually look softened and moist. Their three sons and daughter -- minus their son who died when he was around 8 -- looking on. The proud look on my mother's face as her daughter celebrated 25 years of marriage.
And I recalled when Seaster and Ron were married. I was only a tween. Seaster and Ron had been going out for a while, and she got pregnant. One afternoon, Seaster, Ron, my mother and stepfather and younger brother (no one from Ron's family) went to the courthouse. My mother insisted I "stand up with" Seaster, like her maid of honor. I thought the whole thing was ridiculous and sulked the whole time. (My teenage tomboy sister! Getting married!) Then we went out to dinner. Seaster and Ron lived with us for the next year.... It was a shaky start for a young couple.
That's why it was so important to Seaster to fulfill her dream wedding this time around. A ceremony on the beach ... something nice to wear ... a real cake (heh!) ... a bouquet ... a minister.
This was the wedding she never had.
Their ill son who died and many other trials could have pulled them apart. But Seaster and Ron have stayed strong and faithful.
And now they are wearing new silver rings as a reminder of their silver wedding anniversary.
And I got to be a part of that.