I was not in the frame of mind to be festive. My jaw had been clenched as I made the commute to the house where my extended family has always celebrated birthdays and holidays; since its purchase in 1981 by my late cousin. I sat in heavy traffic, for two consecutive days, to attend events leading up to a wedding this past weekend.
I tried to push the negativity out of my mind as various commitments pulled me in opposite directions. I mulled over bits and pieces of information; sorting and filtering through my observations to the truths that lay somewhere in-between. What I was discovering was not what I had wanted to find. For once I was grateful for the stopped traffic; buying time to think my thoughts in the privacy of my vehicle alone. The F words come to mind.
I think of those who govern by Favors versus Fairness. When Fear of being Found-out drives others to Follow. It always comes with bitter disappointment when you discover someone is a Fraud versus a Friend. This has been happening to me a lot lately and it is Frustrating.
When you choose to walk-your-talk and do what you say, and say what you mean; you realize how many others do not live by those same rules.
I can say what I mean but others don’t want to hear the words. I can do the things I say I will do; but can’t make others do what they say they’ll do. When you choose what is right; not what is easy, you find that it gets a bit lonely. I begin to lose Faith in my fellow human beings. It gets really lonely finding my way alone.
Whenever I question what I do and the reasons why I serve, I repeat the following. Serve the program, not the people. Program, not people. I find myself repeating this phrase often as I watch politics and power positioning occur in various organizations in which I serve. I must find my way to navigate through these waters; to remember my own moral compass and to know my boundaries. I am a people person and naturally want everyone to communicate their thoughts and to receive others’ feedback. But this doesn’t really happen. I keep waiting to be inspired, for someone to lead.
I sat at the empty reception table for seven; four of the members headed towards a field competition almost two hours away, two others in line at the bar, and myself. I didn’t mind the solitude; my dear cousin and her new husband only a few feet away. I caught her glance at the empty table in the midst of the festivities and I gave her a reassuring smile. I am most comfortable being by myself; the only child. I was surrounded by my extended family as I gazed up at the lanterns and various lights strewn across my cousin’s backyard; an idyllic setting for a garden wedding. In the 34 years this home has been in our family, celebrating a wedding was a first. It shouldn’t have caught me off-guard as my younger male cousins began their toasts to the bride; each sharing their sentiments of the significance of the location and how we all claim this as our family home.
My mind brought me back to the first time my older cousin had excitedly shown my parents and I his purchase. He was newly married and, as a young girl, I only remembered tall weeds obscuring the dilapidated barn and the creaky Victorian style home. He claimed it had good “bones” and soon he and his wife moved in and started their young family. There were countless birthday parties and holidays for my cousins and I, and as the bride’s brother shared his toast I saw the tears in the bride’s eyes; the same tears forming in my own. We had all grown up here.
Every Christmas day I have had Christmas dinner here; save for the year of 1998 when the hubs and I traveled from Virginia Beach in a military cross-country move to return to our home state. We had not arrived in time for Christmas. It has been the only time I’ve missed. The last time our entire family came together at this location was at this cousin’s unexpected funeral in 2010. He loved to throw parties and his hospitality is the legacy he has passed down through the rest of us. He was Mr. Hospitality.
It was laughable that my cousin’s widow and I were the hostesses for the bride’s garden wedding. What does one do as a wedding hostess? I haven’t felt hospitable in a long time so I don’t exactly make a good poster child for Mrs. Hospitality.
We found ourselves moving tables, hiding linens, arranging floral arrangements, giving directions on cell phones and answering questions the wedding event planner had about the location. We grinned at guests in 103 degree heat, with no air conditioning. The luxurious port-a-potties had air conditioning that the Victorian home did not. When the cousin, closest in age to me, shared his Facebook post of a selfie in the port-a-pottie to enjoy fifteen minutes of air conditioning I had to laugh. The bride paid attention to details and as the toasts were said, I contemplated the touches most people would take for granted such as the two luxurious air conditioned portable bathrooms. The bride’s creativity is always Pinterest board worthy and those touches were found everywhere.
Sitting alone under the twinkling lights, surrounded by family and wedding guests, reminded me that I don’t need to perform acts of service to find worth or prove that I belong here. The love between the bride and groom was obvious. I was happy the groom was officially a part of our family. Finally. There are no sides. We all belong here. On Facebook various family and guests took picture upon picture. I am in none of them and that is okay. I don’t need to be seen and I’m working on the part about not having to be heard. I need to just do, for the sake of doing; not for acknowledgment, favors or friends. I only need to serve the one not of this world.
I serve for the F’s that matter to me. Fairness. Freedom. Family. Friends.
I push foward through the dramas, botched communications and misunderstood intentions. It is hard to stand up and buck the tide, to call-out what is wrong and what is right. To live by example and forge my own way. Waiting for someone else to motivate, inspire or lead is a cop-out and an excuse. My vision is focusing and my thoughts are centering; words forming. I know where I am from and what I stand for. With my hair flying behind me I stride forward, leaving others in my wake. I hope they all figure it out and sort through the mess and drama. I’m walking my walk and not looking back.