Sunday, May 8

mother's day and a little family history

One of the unique (although not that unique) things about our wedding is that my mom will be escorting me down the aisle.  In this post, I'm going to share some family history that explains why there is no better choice than my mom for an aisle escort and how I realized Mr. Spin was "the one," as well as some of my favorite images of brides being escorted by their mothers.

I am the only child of older parents who had already lived a very full life when I came along.  My parents were married for twenty years before they had me, and for twenty-one years afterward. They were high school sweethearts before marriage, lived in Europe together as newlyweds when my dad was in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Vietnam War, raised my older cousin after her parents' tough divorce, and survived life's ups and downs together.  When I was in kindergarten, my dad became a long distance truck driver.  During the week, he drove to California and back, and my mom was basically a single mom until Saturday, making sure that I was fed and did my homework and got to dance class, and caring for her own mom who was often ill.

My dad had type B diabetes since we was a young man, and being a truck driver was not really a compatible career with that illness because often his only food choices were really unhealthy.  During my third year of college, he "retired" from his job.  He was old enough to retire, so I didn't think much of it, but the reality was that his kidneys were failing and he had to begin regular dialysis treatments.  Dialysis was a truly horrifying thing to me when I saw it for the first time- my father's blood being pumped out of his body through tubes that wound through a loud machine, clarified, and pumped back into his body.  It made him tired and weak.

I became very depressed because I knew kidney failure was a serious thing and I couldn't deal with the idea of losing my dad.  I wanted to drop out of college to move back home and spend time with him, but I was also very angry at him for having had a job that took him away from us for so many years, and for mistreating his body.  I started to worry that something was wrong with me, because I was having mood swings (I was worried I might have bipolar disorder, which runs in my family) and couldn't shake the feelings of anger and sadness.  I had trouble getting out of bed and sometimes didn't see the point of doing so, and missed over a month of a course that was required for my English degree.  Eventually a girl in my Bible study convinced me to seek counseling - it was the fact that she herself was being treated for depression at our college's student health center that gave me the courage to get over the stigma of mental illness and seek help.  She offered to go with me, but I went alone.  Under "reason for visit" on the form I filled out, I said for the first time, in writing: "my father is terminally ill."

The psychologist I worked with at student health was helpful, and our meetings evolved from her listening to me complain and cry for thirty minutes to her helping me learn to deal with my depression and still live my life.  I wasn't bipolar, but I was depressed, and had a reason to be.  She also recommended that I meet with a psychiatrist, and he prescribed an antidepressant and a sleeping medicine to help me get back into a normal lifestyle.

When I met Mr. Spin, I'd been in treatment for depression for about six months.  When Mr. Spin met my father, he was already on dialysis, so Mr. Spin never really knew him healthy, but he did get to know his personality and they got along well.  Mr. Spin and I were really into each other, but I was having trouble experiencing real emotions because the medication made me feel like I was just going through the motions instead.

Immediately after my last final that fall semester (which was for the class I'd skipped for all of November), my mom called and told me a truth she and my father had been keeping from me.  My dad had a brain tumor, and he was going to begin radiation treatments.  Instead of losing him to kidney failure, we could lose him to cancer.  I needed to come home as soon as possible.  I spent a night and a morning being completely broken, with my two best friends force-feeding me and helping me pack.

My life back at home during that winter break became a routine that evolved around the hospital, and Mr. Spin was there every day.  The day I realized I loved Mr. Spin was when I arrived at the hospital one day and my father was not in his bed.  I was freaking out until I realized that the bathroom light was on.  My father came out, with Mr. Spin holding his arm and helping him walk.  I knew he was the one at that moment-- the man I would someday marry.  When a guy helps your sick dad pee, it's as simple as that- he has become part of your team for life.  My dad passed away that Christmas day, and Mr. Spin stayed by my side through the funeral, through my grief and repair stage, and even as I weaned myself off of the antidepressant and sleeping pills.  That emotional rollercoaster is one of the reasons it's taken us so long to get married- there were times that Mr. Spin could not comprehend what I was going through.  My mom always could, because she was going through it with me.  I can't even fathom how difficult the loss was for her.

I am a combination of both of my parents' personalities, but I have my dad's emotional nature, and from time to time my mom's stoicism has been a bit hard for me to handle.  She is truly the strongest woman I know, but her strength is so quiet that many people do not see it. She is hilarious at home, but quiet and reserved in public, so I know that I am lucky to see the side of her that bursts into song and watches TMZ every night.  She is my best friend, and we share everything. My depression makes it impossible for me to live alone, and I have been so blessed to live with her for the past three years while I got my career started and adjusted to post-college life.  I will be so happy to have her by my side as I walk toward Mr. Spin on our wedding day.


  1. Aw how sweet. Sorry to hear you going through something so tough. You seem so strong! :)

  2. P.s. Your comment on my blog was hilarious.. with that much time to go I suggest you get as many DIY projects done as early as possible! Also other fun things -- make or order programs, order favors, order attendant and bridal party gifts, figure out what you want your officiant to say, give "clean up" tasks to certain friends not involved in the wedding party, have a must have photo and video list, have your accessories chosen and buy, order thank you cards, start buying anything for the honeymoon, start researching how to get your marriage license, finalize decor ideas, etc... I could seriously go on and on! There's a lot to do but if you break it down a little each week it isn't so bad. Don't wait to the last minute for time consuming things like I did :)