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Ding dong, the bells did chime! 4/9/2019
Thought Archive

March began with a fun movie night at the home of our friend’s Barb and Craig. Completing the evening’s guest list, Vanessa and Harold joined us for a yummy Asian dinner, followed by the French classic, “Rififi”. The six of us travelled to Paris together last fall and Ed had been talking up this crime film while we were there. Shot in the streets of the City of Lights in 1955 and made on the very low budget of $200,000, it is acclaimed as one of France’s best “films noirs”. We all thought it was excellent. A "très bien" was duly awarded to our film critic!

The following week, Kristy, the dear friend who introduced the tradition to our circle 25 years ago, hosted Bunko at her home. She provided delightful game fare comprised of specialty salads, sandwiches and a luscious chocolate cake for dessert. But the people are always the best ingredient at our little gatherings; what could be better than catching up with friends over fun and games?

Later in the week, friends and family viewed (via the Internet, or at the party in Hilton Head, SC) the gender reveal of Kristy and Ron’s first grandchild. There’s always a reason to party in this group: their daughter Kim and her husband Stephen will be welcoming a little girl this summer!

On the 11th, my husband, my sister, Wendy, and I flew to Palm Springs, CA, where we would be staying a week for the wedding of our eldest son and his lovely fiancée!

Once landed, we checked into Los Arboles, a charming boutique hotel. While waiting for our room to be ready, we walked to the adjoining Mexican restaurant and enjoyed freshly-made tortillas and a very good lunch. After we moved into our accommodations, my sister and I walked around the charming downtown.

That afternoon, Wendy was picked up by our brother, who had rented a house with his wife and three children for the week. We all met for dinner that rainy evening (our only rainfall of the week) at a wonderful Thai restaurant.

The following day Ed and I drove around Palm Springs, where his deceased parents lived many years ago...and where he first proposed to me. Who would have thought then that our future son would be getting married here several decades later?

The temperature registered a balmy 70 degrees, and the skies were sunny and clear: such a nice change from the gloomy, winter weather we left behind in Cleveland!

That evening our family gathered again for dinner. The following day, the bride-to-be and her mom drove down from LA and we hung out together at the hotel pool, before stuffing 160 welcome bags for the wedding guests who would be descending upon Palm Springs over the next few days.

That evening, Ed and I met Cleveland friends for dinner in Rancho Mirage, a neighboring community about 30 minutes away.

The next day was Thursday. It was fun to meet our young couple’s friends as they checked in at our hotel. We also enjoyed meeting certain members of our future daughter-in-law’s family for the first time, like her uncle, Frank Smurlo and his son, Fes, who traveled from Greenwich, CT. Frank is an artist who paints landscapes, florals, still lifes…and such a lovely man. His son is also a total sweetheart.

That evening, 25 family members--from both sides—got together for a cookout, hosted by the brother of the bride and his wife. My brother and his wife and family, my sister, Ed’s sister and his brother and wife were in attendance at this very fun evening.

Friday morning we picked up my youngest (co-best man sharing the role with Wendy’s son, Ryan) and his fiancée, at the airport. We grabbed lunch and then dropped them off at The Frederick Loewe Estate, where they would be staying for the weekend. Hand-picked by the betrothed, it was to be the setting of the wedding the following day.

Frederick Loewe sounds familiar, doesn’t he? He was the gifted composer who collaborated with lyricist Alan Lerner on stellar Broadway musicals, such as “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot”. To quote the official description: the Loewe estate, “built in 1956, is a historic 2.5 acre luxury property set on a boulder-strewn hillside that offers…360-degree views of the San Jacinto Mountains, Coachella Valley below, and landscaped grounds and paths…” Our jaws did drop, it’s amazing!

Later that day, we all met there for the ceremony rehearsal, perched above the grounds in a secluded area, totally invisible from below. After the rehearsal, we went to Cheeky’s for a wonderful dinner with 54 family members from both sides. I enjoyed my Milwaukee, Chicago and Indianapolis cousins seated on one side of me, while my husband, who made a beautiful and touching speech, sat on my other side. After our dinner, we hosted a cocktail party welcoming 120 family and friends. The next morning was the big event!

The weather forecast was sunny, with temps set to reach a high of 80. No need for a wrap, yay! Ed dropped me off at the estate at around 10 am. The bride treated her mom and me, her bridesmaid and little niece, the flower girl, to a hair appointment. Next came a make-up appointment for me and her mom, also a treat from my soon-to-be daughter-in-law! Meanwhile, the brother of the bride offered Ed, and the two best men a full barbershop experience in one of the many rooms. The guys and the girls were pampered that morning!

I was in my dress by 2:30 pm. The bride looked stunning in her gown. Her mom looked beautiful too. My handsome son, the groom, was glowing, and my husband and my youngest son, co-best man, looked perfect for their roles. We were ready for the pre-ceremony family photo session!

Soon we were greeting guests. As they crossed through the house, they could stop to pay respects to the dearly departed family members who would be missed on this special day. A long table held framed photos of Cait’s father and grandparents, of Sean’s paternal grandparents, his two uncles, and my deceased dad posed with my 93 year old mother, who was unable to attend. It was a very sweet touch.

Guests then walked up the garden’s stone steps, which wound up past the tennis courts on the upper level, and took their seats for the ceremony. Sean’s good friend, Chuck, officiated the ceremony which was perfect: filled with just the right doses of beautiful memories, tender moments and humor.
It wasn't a church wedding but I could hear "My Fair Lady" bells chiming in my head when the rings were exchanged...and they walked down the aisle together, wreathed in their own special light, second only to the glorious sun at their backs!

The reception was FABULOUS! Scrumptious hors d’oeuvres were passed while the guests mingled over cocktails. Just before dinner I sang “For Your Precious Love” while the newlyweds descended the stairs for their first dance. I was a bit nervous, but my good friend, Jim B. put me at ease, playing behind me on Frederick Loewe’s grand piano.

We were seated for dinner on the lawn, at long tables beneath strung lights and a glowing sunset. We were moved by several speeches: the bridesmaid’s warm words, the mother of the bride’s loving recitation, a beautiful address by best man and cousin to the groom, and a very memorable and authentic tribute by best man and younger brother, our Zach.
After dinner and the cutting of a truly incredible cake (topped with a puffin and a transformer character!), it was time for the mother/son dance, to Paul Simon’s “Love Me Like A Rock.” The dancing continued for another hour but the night was young!

The Loewe Estate is located in an exclusively residential neighborhood, with a very strict noise ordinance: no fun and games past 10:00 pm! But the young couple had thought of everything. Guests were shuttled to Mr. Lyon’s, where Sean and Cait had rented out Seymour’s Speakeasy. The conversation, food and drink continued into the wee hours!

When is this party going to end, you might ask? Not just yet!

The following day was St. Patrick’s Day and Ed and I hosted a brunch for the family and friends who were departing a bit later. It was such fun to re-live the events of the previous day and enjoy a few more moments together.

And it was another gorgeous day. Since our immediate family was staying until Monday, we all gathered at the estate to further bask in the beautiful surroundings, and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day over outstanding corned beef sandwiches, care of the mother of the bride!

The next morning we bid goodbye to the bride and groom, the bride’s mom and other family members. It had been an amazing week and a truly magical wedding!

The downside of such an important event for parents is that after gaining momentum for months, all the excitement is behind you. But once home, I quickly resumed my routine of daily visits to my mom, and taking care of “my boys”. Besides, we have our youngest son’s wedding to look forward to, only six months away! In Cleveland this time, I have a feeling I will be much more involved!

Speaking of Cleveland, Ed and I enjoyed a concert late March by the renowned Cleveland Orchestra, ranked the world’s seventh finest symphony orchestra.
They are awesome and we are so fortunate to have this treasure in our town.

The month ended with a birthday party for our friend, Rob. It was a fun night, but on our drive home we were hit by a horrendous lake-effect snowstorm. We were barely able to see 20 feet ahead: very scary!

Let’s hope that March 30th storm was the last, seeing as "spring has sprung" since the 21st!