Life’s journey

Of all the trips I’ve taken, life’s journey rates as the most interesting with it’s ups and downs – births, marriages, deaths – friendships, family, discoveries, food – and travel, of course!

A fall, but Dad was there with a supporting hand as usual

My own birth, many moons ago, came as my father was about to board a bus with his soccer (football) team mates to play in the State Grand Final. It was a big deal – his first State Grand Final, and as it turned out, his last. He didn’t get on the bus. A difficult decision, I’m sure. Mum probably would have throttled him if he had gone. But the decision was his – family first. He was a wonderful Dad and mentor to this new disruptive influence on his life’s journey.

In this past year, my journey has included marriage and birth. Not death – one trip I’m not embracing yet. Haven’t figured how to do a blog about my ongoing journey once I’m dead. Joking 🤗 Not my own marriage either – that happened more than 40 years ago and is happily ongoing. This past pandemic year has seen the ‘Covid harrassed’ marriage of my eldest son – a highlight of my journey. Not because Covid nearly ruined it. But because finally one of my children was getting married before old age shuffled me off my perch.

Now indulge me here – in the 70’s many of my friends married young and decades ago were showing off their offspring weddings and Nanna books stuffed with grandchildren photos and stories. They were enjoying a whole new journey, and I was still at the bus terminal hoping for a ticket. A long wait.

Until February last year when my son, in the twilight of his 30’s, planned to walk down the aisle before a crowd of family and friends from across Australia.

Dresses bought, suits sorted, flowers chosen, reception planned. I dithered over what to wear. The ups and downs of my Mother of the Groom shopping trips, plagued with indecisiveness, rate their own blog story!

Countdown: In a State that had no community Covid, it arrived just in time for the wedding. An uninvited guest! A lockdown was declared six days before the big event. Regional borders were set up with Police manning checkpoints to stop anyone without special Passes from crossing. And there I was with hubby south of the ’wall’, our son and the pending wedding on the other side.

We applied for permits to cross the ’border’. Weddings weren’t on the qualifer’s list. I laboured over writing my best plea – a case to get us over the line. If the application had been on paper, instead of via the internet, I probably would have shed crocodile tears onto it to swing the deal!

Permits granted, we headed for the border – that 1960’s song West of the Wall resounding in my head as we crossed! If we hadn’t been successful in being granted passes? Frankly, having been brought up on movies such as the Great Escape, I might have considered tunnelling under the police line, or having a quick lesson on a motor bike and doing my best Steve McQueen leap over it! Never underestimate a desperate Mother! Steve didn’t make it across though, did he.

Police manned regional borders – could I tunnel under, fly over or plead for a permit to cross?

The lockdown ended at midnight, 15 hours before the wedding. But a year of planning for the ceremony had to be abandoned because of ongoing restrictions including new social distancing rules. The couple still wanted to go ahead – no postponement.

We quickly reorganised in a marathon effort. Actually, it was more like a 100 metre dash to the Olympic finish line. Usain Bolt could not have moved faster!

The venue changed to a simple ceremony by the Swan river in the centre of Perth, with just 12 of us attending – parents, the bridal party, celebrant and photographer. Fortunately the bridal party included siblings and best friends. We looked a little like a Zorro movie set or the Ned Kelly gang – everyone masked up. I sewed sequins on mine to brighten it up! No need for lipstick!

My sequinned mask

No bridal flowers arrived. No visits to the hairdresser for a wedding transformation. But on a good note, the family dog – not originally invited – was able to attend! Dogs don’t count in a Covid crowd. 😁

Invited at the last minute!

With the reception cancelled because of Covid social distancing restraints, we managed to get a booking at a local restaurant for a wedding lunch. The restaurant gave us a private room with a massive table that met the new Covid rules criteria. The food and company was great – a tiny group of us celebrating a wedding that turned out to be quite romantic, intimate and memorable.

The original wedding venue offered to reschedule in February, 2022 so that extended family and friends could celebrate a renewal of vows at a wedding reception.

Surely, by then, the pandemic would have passed. Fast forward a year and everything was looking good. Western Australia had one of the world’s toughest border rules, even with it’s sister Australian States, and it remarkably had maintained a Community Covid free status – until ……

You guessed it – these last few weeks leading to Wedding Take 2. Omicron has crept in. Case numbers are still very low – averaging less than 20 cases a week – but it is spreading. Contact tracing continues. Masks have been ordered for all indoor venues, except homes.

The wedding still had the go-ahead, but everyone attending had to be fully vaccinated. Vaccination certificates and identity proof had to be produced.

Our State and international borders were closed, meaning relatives from Australia’s Eastern States could not attend. And some local guests had to bail because of health concerns or because they were anti-vaxers and had no vaccination certificates. Others, including myself, lay low at home in the week ahead of the ceremony to avoid public places where we could be named a casual or close contact and be home quarantined – out of the wedding!

And to add another curveball – the weather. Last year, as vows were spoken, a massive dark summer storm approached our tiny outdoor wedding. Umbrellas stood by. Rain, fortunately, held off until we finished.

This weekend umbrellas came to the ceremony again – but not for rain. We faced 42 degrees celsius heat – nearly 108 F – with the ceremony outdoors in full sun, overlooking a beautiful beach as originally planned for last year – the place, not the heat! I had a snazzy little red American umbrella which complimented my outfit. Not a fashion choice. I just lucked in.

Finally, despite the intense heat, wedding take 2 was a successful wrap! The dog didn’t get a repeat invite as the traditional reception with family and friends was indoors.

There was, however, a new wedding guest who almost stole the show from the bridal couple. And that brings me back to the joys of birth in my journey. Ten months after last year’s ceremony, a grandson arrived bringing dazzling light and much happiness into our Covid world! So, of course, he got an invite!

Our grandson was as good as gold throughout the whole wedding. Perhaps this tiny babe knew how much Wedding Take 2 meant to his parents. He was even up first after his parents on the dance floor, in the arms of a loving aunt!

Unexpected pleasures are always welcome on a journey. All good things come to those who endure and wait.

Coming up next week on my blog: Another South Island New Zealand story. 😎

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