"Whatcha doing?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm making a money tree for my piano teacher's wedding," she said. "I'll put some little clips on here and guests can attach money to the tree. Isn't that such a cute idea?"
We walked inside where she arranged the twigs in a large vase. "When is she getting married?" I asked.
"Next Saturday. The reception is going to be at work, so I'm gonna have to go in Friday night and get everything all set up. We're doing up the banquet hall in all white. I'm making centerpieces for the tables and ..."
That was when I zoned her out.
And this is why it's hard for me to get over the fact that my family didn't come to my wedding.
Later that day I showed Mom the pictures from our wedding. My sister had asked me to bring them because she wanted to see how I looked in my dress. Mom flipped through the book, flipping past the pictures that included TAIM as if they were pictures of a horrendous massacre.
My sister called me the day after the piano teacher's wedding to tell me how beautiful it was. I know she didn't do it to be malicious, but it still hurt. My sister was 10 years old at the time. Just a few months before, the night after The Proposal to the Parents, our parents went to the casino as they usually did on the weekends. After they left, my littlest sibling looked up at me with excited eyes and said, "I bet they're going to surprise you by getting you a wedding dress!" It took everything in me to sound excited for the piano teacher I'd met only twice, but I did because I couldn't corrupt my sister's sweet innocence.
My bridal shower was the following Saturday. My friends from work threw it for me and told me to make a list of everyone to invite. I invited my friends from work, family members I kind of knew, and friends. I also invited Mom and my sisters. Dad dropped my sisters off. Mom couldn't come because she had to work, I was told. My sisters gave me precious handmade gifts - cards and banners, taffies wrapped in tissue paper, scrapbook pages and paintings. Around Christmastime last year Mom quit telling me, "One of these days, when I can afford it, I'm going to get you a wedding present."
A few months later she made bouquets for a girl my sister used to be in 4-H with. "Her mom is all stressed out because they decided to get married two weeks sooner than they planned. She asked me to make the centerpieces and I offered to make the bouquets, too. I just have to go buy some carnations. They aren't too expensive, though, and it's a good thing since I'm paying for them. Then, I have to be there early to help decorate and stay late to clean up."
The next summer Mom took my siblings to another wedding - the marriage of her boss' son to a co-worker. Another money tree. Another phone call from my sister telling me what a beautiful wedding it was.
Last summer my husband and I spent $1500 of our tax return to go home for a week. I hadn't been home in about six months. We watched my sisters compete in the fair. He spent most of his time in the hotel because he said I should spend time with my family by myself. I'm sure the real reason was because it was incredibly awkward.
Speaking of awkward, as I stood next to Mom and talked about my sister's great barrel-racing technique, the piano teacher walked up. We said hi to each other, then her and Mom gabbed as if I wasn't there at all. Then another woman walked up, a friend of Mom's from work, a lady I had never met. I stood there awkwardly twiddling my thumbs as Mom introduced her friend to her piano teacher. She hugged the piano teacher and said, "She just got married - what was it? a year ago? Such a nice guy. And she's such a sweet girl." Then she hugged her piano teacher and grinned like a proud mother.
Why is it that the little things like that grate on me the most?
As I think about that day at the fair, I think about the nearly two years that I've lived 2,000 miles from home and how many times I've talked to Mom since I've moved. It's probably been about five or six times that I've talked to her. Each of those times were because I called her. Most of the time I called her she was busy/sleeping/eating/too stressed out/tired/didn't feel like talking.
If I never called her, would she ever call me? I don't think so. So should I even bother? I feel as if I'm wasting my time by trying to reconcile with her.