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A Birth, a Death, and a Wedding

On Friday morning I went to a Mass of Christian burial for my friend Karen's Mom. Because I know at least five Karens you may be wondering which of those five this Karen might be. Well, she's one of the Karens I've known the longest. Apparently we met around 1982 when she first moved to Orlando from New Jersey. One of her first remembrances of me is coming to the hospital with all my little tow heads in tow. Haha--you will be hard pressed to ever read a sentence like that one again! Anyway, we both made x-ray our life work, well, she for much longer than I, but you get my drift.

For me, she is one of the first women I met who said she did not want to have children. At that time in my life,  I did not think a woman like that even existed! Coming from a family of six children, Karen had had her fill, while growing up, caring for her siblings while her Mom worked nights as a nurse. At the same time we met our friend Jeannette. Working at a small hospital we bonded over our love of reading, along with Karen's quick wit which is legendary. She always kept us laughing. Remember how I wrote about going to Mama B's last week? These are the girls who once we were all working together again at the small outpatient center got subs form there. I had Karen's baby brother Terry, take this shot of us, along with another friend, Joni.
Gail on the left, Jeannette, Karen, and Joni respectively. I had not been to a Catholic Mass since our Mom died in 2003 and I'd forgotten how lovely it can be. Plus, there was a killer soloist! What was so touching about this funeral is that the priest knew Karen's Mother so well. It is always sad when you can tell that the priest/pastor has no clue who the deceased is, don't you agree?

So, that was on Friday. Saturday afternoon I attended a baby shower in Kissimmee for Leslie and Tim's almost here baby, Leila. Leslie and Tim have been married for 15 years and for many, many of those years they tried to have a baby. Unlike Karen, having a baby meant so much to Leslie. Everyone was overjoyed when the dream finally became a reality. Now this is nothing against Hispanic folks, because I count many, many as my friends. That said, their sense of time is not my sense of time. Arriving at the appointed hour of two o'clock, the room was practically empty. Thank goodness Karen and Laura were there! Karen (!), was the receptionist of our x-ray department at what was then called Sand Lake Hospital, renamed since to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital. Because my mammogram room was adjacent to the main office we became great friends, despite our age difference. Well, perhaps our age difference is why both she and Leslie called me "Momma Gail." Although it has now been at least ten years since I worked there I've never forgotten the good times we had together. Laura took this of Karen and I in the nearly empty room twenty minutes after the start time.
I do believe I now have discovered someone who rivals me in the super squinty eyes when smiling category! When I quit working Karen's little girl Stephanie was but three years old. She's grown into quite an interesting teenager whose dream it is to be an astronaut!
What was super great about sitting beside Stephanie is she loves college football nearly as much as I do and kept checking her phone for scores of the day's big games for both of us to stay in the know.

Laura, a life long friend of Karen's, also had her struggles with having a baby. She, too, spent nearly ten years before she had her miracle baby...Gaby.
Aren't they beautiful!! Not just one miracle baby, but two, her eighteen month old son Matthew was born when she was 44. The wonders of modern medicine never cease to amaze.

Finally, right around 3:00, Leslie arrived along with 70 or so of her closest friends. Overwhelmed with emotion, she gave a heartfelt speech thanking everyone for their support throughout the long journey.
Going around greeting everyone, she especially loved up on Laura who, of all people understood what this pregnancy means to her. Not to mention Laura encouraged her for years!
So, can you guess what gift I brought to the occasion? Yep, I made a baby quilt. On September 29, I purchased the fabric,
working on it for a month. Originally I'd intended to go for pinks, but finding the cute little owl fabric at Hobby Lobby, I used that as inspiration for the other fabrics; knowing Leslie's love of purple, I used that for the backing. Piecing it by machine, I hand quilted the rest. As you can imagine, I was delighted to finish a week ahead of schedule. Here is the finished product from the front...
and from the back....
In spite of the fact that I'd spent a month working on it, I left before Leslie opened her gifts. Can you believe it? Hearing from Karen later, she said they finally left at 7:00! Leslie and Tim's baby girl will never lack for attention given the outpouring of love I witnessed on Saturday. :)

And then it was Sunday morning and time to get ready for the drive to St. Augustine for Monica and David's wedding. If you've ever been to East End Market here in Orlando, you probably have met them in person at their spot called Houndstooth Sauce Company. Maybe six or so years ago, Monica came into my booth at the market, and we immediately hit it off. We've had a mutual admiration society going on ever since. She has purchased pieces from me, and both Bruce and I have had her doing our hair for years now. A fun factoid about Monica is that she once was a stylist/makeup artist on the tour bus for NYNSC back in the day when Justin Timberlake was one of the members. David went to Alabama, thus the name of his company, making him a perfect fit as far as her Mom was concerned being from Alabama and all. Before leaving I realized that the Crate & Barrel box wasn't going to cut it for the wedding gift. Checking my stash, I found a paper that looked sort of weddingy, and began wrapping the box until I got to the ends. Bruce, being the expert wrapper that he is was called into action. Just before he came into the kitchen, putting my glasses on, I then discovered that it may have looked weddingy without them, however, with them on, it was wedding SHOWER paper. Now what? Green is what. Barely any ribbon in my stash, Bruce did what he could.
We took the highway as far as Flagler Beach, exiting so we could drive along A1A to see what we could see. It is still so warm there were plenty of folks at the beach.
And there was an ice cream shop directly across from this boardwalk making for a nice treat for the driver. The clouds you see darkened the further North we drove, turning to rain just outside of St. Augustine. Not great for an outdoor wedding. I imagined Monica stressing out with worry as the start time drew nearer.

Well, the rain held off, even if the dampness and humidity did not. David, with both his Dad and stepfather, looking down on the group.
Just before leaving, my friend Sue posted something on facebook about everyone taking photographs at a wedding, interfering with the ceremony. I took notice, and only have a few to share. Holding my camera low to the ground, most of them were out of focus, however, I do like this one of Monica with her Dad.
I wonder what the heck surprised her so? Here they are releasing butterflies at the conclusion of the ceremony.
The reception room was opened, and in we went to enjoy the remainder of the festivities. Seated at table seven, Monica put us with the Thomases. You may recall from the bridal shower that there are some long standing connections between our families. We had a ball with Tres and Teddie on this side of the table.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, unbeknownst to Monica, we also had a long standing connection with the family seated there. Talking to Maria, the matriarch of the group, our conversation somehow turned to the subject of twins. When I mentioned I had them, she asked me their names. Both of us about fell out of our chairs when we discovered how we were connected. Her daughter Carolina was one of David's first true loves in high school!!!! I can't remember why she broke up with him, but she did. He knew all of the girls in the family very well, so when they returned to the table their jaws dropped when they heard who I was! They agreed to a photo...
Carolina was not there, but on the far right is Maria who knew Matt. Can we just say it is a SMALL world after all?

What a joy this weekend was, celebrating with old friends, new births, both in heaven and on earth, and hopefully, until death do them part.

Now wasn't I a good little blogger keeping the words and pictures to a minimum? I can't promise there won't be more to come from this weekend, but for today, this is enough.

Rarely succinct,

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