Eight days in July that went awry

Southern Hospitality

Have you ever felt like you were living in “The Twilight Zone?” I once spent eight days there, from Sunday to Sunday.

I went to Raleigh to help my sister Nancy. She was preparing that week for her son Huck’s wedding. I thought I’d calm Nancy’s nerves, run errands, cook meals and even (so out of character for me) clean her house. Russell, my hubby and naysayer, often says, “No good deed ever goes unpunished.” He might be right.

For starters, it was hot as Hades that week. Even a supposed cool splash in the pool was unnerving. With zillions of kids swimming around me amid warm water, one thing came to mind. So I jumped out, preferring to sweat off my Bain de Soleil poolside in a blasting-hot vinyl chair. That night my feet were burned. Upon inspection, they resembled bubble wrap, blistered from the scorching concrete. And I developed a cold sore the size of Cleveland above my lip.

I also watched our granddaughter, Madison, two days for Kelly. One morning we walked (but mostly sweated) around the neighborhood. The next day I drove her to My Gym for classes. Okay, I admit I was half asleep at 8 a.m. – that’s early for me – when we left the house. Hours later Kelly fussed at me for sending Madison off in her pajamas. What can I say? They looked like regular clothes to me: a colorful top and matching capris. This Grammy Gram thing is tougher than I once thought.

Nancy and I made repeated trips to craft stores, party stores, wedding shops and stationery shops where I clutched the coveted list that we continually added to. Once, after leaving the craft store for the fourth time in two days and jumping into Nancy’s car, I screamed, “The list! It’s missing!” Nancy nearly slung me out of the car, turning around on two wheels while landing squarely on the sidewalk. The frightened clerk must have sensed my hysteria as she joined my buggy search, consoling me with, “Don’t worry, honey.” It was no use. The list was gone. I found it later inside the car and held it tightly in my sweaty palm until bedtime.

For the rehearsal dinner, I had picked out a favorite dress a week earlier. But Katie forgot to pack a dress. Flying in from a summer music festival in Sewanee, Tennessee, she had only concert attire. Thankfully Nancy’s neighbor, Bethany, offered to lend her something.

At the airport, I swooshed Katie into the bathroom and helped her quickly change into the wrap-around, mint-green linen dress with no buttons or zippers and only a sash to tie. Easy enough. She looked beautiful, thought I noticed the hem lining was showing. No matter, I thought, rushing through the airport and out to our car.

We arrived at the club just as the rehearsal party began. Bethany’s shocked face revealed the problem, “Katie, your dress is inside out!” Moments later, I was the one surprised, saying to Nancy, “Did you know you have on two different earrings?”

The next day, even more wedding-related blunders surfaced. The air conditioning in the church wasn’t cooling well. Therefore, the bride, groom, and all attendants (20-some in all, in tuxedos and black and white satin gowns) were sweating bullets. I wanted to cry – from emotion, empathy and heat.

And at the reception, there was another slip up: a bridesmaid’s zipper split wide open, exposing her entire back.

Later that evening, the bride and groom left for a motel an hour away, planning to fly out at 6 a.m. the following day for Cap Juluca, Anguilla. Nancy went home and collapsed onto the bed when the phone suddenly rang. It was Huck. “Mama, I forgot some luggage. Can you drive it over now?” Without hesitation, Nancy did so, therefore stretching the limitless theory, “that’s what moms are for,” to the limit.

It’s no wonder I was eager to get home on the eighth day, hoping for some normalcy. No such luck. Our car died a mile from home, resulting in the purchase of a new alternator. I think maybe we need a new life?

– Ann Ipock
Author of Life is Short, But It’s Wide; Life is Short, So Read This Fast; and Life is Short, I wish I Was Taller