Years ago, when I met Sam and his brother Joe, I had no idea what lay ahead. Do we ever know where life will lead us?
Sam was 11. Joe was 13. I was a grown woman who should’ve known better than to let them talk me into jumping off the roof of a boathouse into a lake.
I hit the water like a breached whale, torpedoed to the bottom and nearly lost my swimsuit.
They thought it was hilarious. When I finally surfaced, they were laughing, snorting water out their noses. And I thought, “Those two little toads could make life interesting.”
Five years later, I married their dad and we combined all our toads (his two, my three.) Four of the five married and gave us nine grandtoads, who make life truly interesting.
Our fifth and last to tie the knot is Sam. He recently (and wisely) married Ellen, a lovely soul who is, in all the best of ways, Sam’s perfect match. Together, their lives will be not only interesting, but happy.
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Their wedding in the Rose Garden of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park included only their immediate families.
We’d met the evening before at a dinner hosted by Ellen’s parents. At the ceremony, we joined hands in a circle — two families coming together to stand with Sam and Ellen as they spoke their vows.
We laughed and cried at the truth in each vow. It was a gift to hear them profess their love and to see it shine in their eyes.
Then, in an age-old miracle that is new every time, they were married. And somehow, before our very eyes, the two became one. They kissed, we cheered and the parties began.
We planned to walk to several locations to celebrate (over tacos, wine and homemade wedding cake) with some of Sam and Ellen’s closest friends.
Have you ever walked in San Francisco? I’d bought boots for the occasion, but didn’t want to end up limping barefoot for blocks. So I wore sneakers.
It was not a good look. But I wasn’t alone. After a few blocks, the mother of the groom ran in a store, bought a pair of clogs and threw her fancy shoes in the trash. I like that woman a lot.
The parties (and after-parties) were great fun. I loved talking with young people who made me feel they liked talking to me, too. But I also liked not talking, just watching the celebration.
The bride and groom moved through the room, greeting each guest, introducing them to others, delighting in one and all.
Groups of friends talked and laughed as good friends like to do, happy for Sam and Ellen.
And people who had never met came out of their comfort zones to get to know one another.
Like every good wedding, Sam and Ellen’s was filled with family, friends, joy and laughter, and most of all, with love.
Weddings can teach us a lot about life. For example:
Be yourself. If you like who you are, others will usually like you, too. If you don’t like who you are, be someone else — the kind of person you want to be.
Be happy — as happy as you can possibly be. Smile every chance you get. You deserve it. And others need to see it.
Be committed to someone or something. Commitment changes the world. It brings out the best in us and each other.
Try to remember that not everything is about you. One reason Sam and Ellen’s wedding was such a pleasure is everyone seemed to agree that it was all about Sam and Ellen.
Surround yourself with people who will make you laugh, hold you when you cry and maybe even bake your wedding cake.
Dress for the occasion, but wear sensible shoes.
Fall in love with someone who loves you, who’ll be your perfect match and best friend forever.
Finally, remember this: Things don’t always go as you plan. Life is full of surprises. Sometimes a toad turns out to be a treasure.
Sharon Randall is a syndicated columnist and the author of “The World and Then Some: A Novel.” Contact her at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley, CA 93924 or via her website at www.sharonrandall.com.