The best of times … the worst of times

Yesterday, my sister got married.  It was a beautiful day … for the most part.

There was light drizzle in the early afternoon, but by 5 pm, the clouds were gone and the sun was out.  It was a little chilly for most people, but dressed as I was, I was fine (besides, I’m no fan of hot and humid … cool and dry was fine for me).

As some of you know, I was tapped to be the celebrant.  I didn’t get my lines until last weekend, so I had limited time to check things over and get ready.  Nonetheless, I only made two small mistakes, and I don’t think they were really noticeable (my sister and my now brother-in-law laughed and smiled throughout the ceremony, and that made my job easier knowing they were at ease.

My brother was an usher, and my goddaughter was the flower girl.  She actually made it down the aisle unassisted after a little prodding, but did not drop any flowers.  Still, not bad;  most really little girls like that run away or scream.  Otherwise there was only a best man and a maid of honor.

The ceremony was held at the Peacock Pavilion at Brookfield Zoo.  I have not seen all of the photos, but I cannot wait to see the pictures they took with the animals.  The family photos were (sadly) pretty ordinary, and were taken outside a small grove of trees outside “The Swamp” building.  Dinner was excellent (though I have to wonder the symbolism of the balcony of the restaurant overlooking the vulture cage).

I was dressed in black shoes, black socks, black pants, a black shirt, black neck tie, and black vest (please, no Johnny Cash comments), and while performing the ceremony, I wore my academic robe.  The groom was dressed similarly except a white vest.  The bride wore a modern, strapless white dress, with a wide red stripe across the top of the bodice with some embroidery.  The same also made up the bottom hem of her gown, and the middle of the train.  Her hair was dyed dark red to match the color of the accent.  For those that know my sister, “traditional” is not a word that would describe her.  Of course, she looked beautiful (except when she was puffing on a damn cigarette …).

So what went wrong?

My father had been doing very well for the last 2-3 weeks.  He was dealing with some of his more than embarrassing physical problems, and had not been drinking.

On Thursday, he lost his job.  It was rather amazing he had lasted this long.  His boss suspected him of drinking in the parking lot, and when he was asked to open his car’s trunk to prove there was no alcohol, my father refused on grounds it was his private property.  Not a wise move.

He came home drunk, but according to mom, not especially so.  He slept until Friday, as my mom and sister had to go get their nails done for Saturday.  They came home to find him really drunk.  Despite sleeping it off, he was in no condition to attend the rehearsal.  My mom and dad were en route when my mother decided to take him home.

I should also mention that his liver biopsy came back this week with an unsurprising result that he has developed cirrhosis.  It is manageable if he stops drinking, but will certainly kill him in the next few years (if something else doesn’t first).

My sister made the decision that she had planned for:  dad was forbidden at the wedding.  My brother told him that they were through, irrelevant of any future recovery.  My mom would walk her down the aisle, and my Uncle Mike, her godfather, would take his place for the father-daughter dance.

As we were taking family pictures, my father did show up in his wedding clothes.  The groom pointed him out to my brother and I, and said he would not tell my sister.  My brother and I accosted him.  Before I could say anything, my brother lit into him hard.  Dad said he was here to see his daughter married.  My brother said “She doesn’t want you here”.  He was obviously drunk, had a hard time walking, but started walking toward the gate.  My brother parted with him by saying (much like an owner would say to a dog): “Go ….. go …. and don’t come back … if you do, I will call security.”  Dad hung out at the gate for a few minutes, and eventually left.   As we walked back, my brother said “I have a feeling we’ll never see him again”.  He may yet prove to be right.

My sister still managed to have a great time.  Mom, not so much, though she put on a good face for my sister.

I am still struggling with how to react.  There is no question that dad screwed up in as big a way as he could.  I have no idea what really happened with his losing his job (maybe he was drinking, maybe he wasn’t).  He knows he screwed up, but is likely blaming us for what happened.  Coming from a scientific background, it is hard to not see the disease as the causative factor instead of the man.


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