Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Who'll Stop The Rain? (The Wedding Chronicles - Part 3)

My daughter chose a beautiful facility to have the wedding (which of course I paid for).  The ceremony was to take place on a gazebo in the center of a man-made lake with the guests seated on shore.

Did not sing at the wedding!
Of course the risk of holding an outdoor wedding is the chance of rain and the consequences are worse than listening to Alanis Morissette wail about it.  So you check the weather beginning with the 5-day forecast.  The 5-day forecast in Northeast Ohio is akin to the horoscope, it means nothing but it gets printed, so you look.

The forecast for the wedding day:

Tuesday: Sunny and beautiful
Wednesday: Sunny and beautiful
Thursday: Slight chance of showers
Friday: Monsoons followed by typhoons followed by downpours. 

While the rainfall in June had been the second highest in recorded history, July had been slightly below normal.  It would not stay below normal for long.

The evening before at the rehearsal dinner, the facilities manager bragged that they had only had 4 rainouts in 15 years.  I wanted to tell her that if she had wanted to keep that record alive, she should have never accepted a large check with my name on it.

As predicted, I awoke Saturday to a steady rain. I checked the radar and it was an incredible green mess. 

This raised my stress level and causes me to think irrationally. The song on my internal playlist changed from Alanis to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Who’ll stop the rain? I’m the Father of the Bride so I should be able to do something, right? But how can I stop the rain? I post this on Facebook:

Of course one my Facebook friends strongly suggested that I pray.  Yes I knew this was an option, but I really didn’t want to go “Pat Robertson” on this. Robertson is a famous televangelist. In 1985 Hurricane Gloria was headed right for Robertson’s vast ministry in Virginia Beach. He claims he prayed and the hurricane spun back out to sea.  Robertson drew much ridicule over this statement, especially from people in Massachusetts where Gloria slammed ashore a short time later.

I really didn’t know what to pray to stop the rain. Excuse me God, just wondering if you could turn off your sprinkler system and maybe just kick it back tomorrow, please.  I felt really stupid, but that’s nothing unusual.

So the prayers started and the rains continued and the radar stayed green. As I travelled to the wedding location, the rains became heavier. I spent the next two hours staring at the sky and continuing to periodically utter a prayer.   It was a Cantonese (closest city to the place) water torture. It would rain hard then diminish to a light mist. Just when you thought it might stop, it would suddenly rain harder than it had before.

If the ceremony could not be held outdoors, it would be moved into the reception hall.  Yes a wedding would take place, but it was a much less desirable option. The facility manager said the night before that if it rained it was the bride’s decision where to hold the ceremony.

The guest started to arrive and huddled under canopies off the hall.  I hung out with the groomsmen and counted down the minutes to decision time. T-minus 20, T-minus 10, T-minus 5, time.  It was 4 o’clock, the music was supposed to start, and it was still raining.  I started the long walk up the hill to the bridal quarters to discuss the situation with my daughter.

I anticipated she would be very sad that the ceremony had to be moved inside.  There would be tears. I would need to hug her and give that fatherly speech: There are disappointments in life……. but you have to forget those and think about all the good things.  This had to be a command fatherly performance.  I needed to  get her focused on the moment, not the circumstances.

“We have to decide”, I said softly.

“She looked straight at me and said, “I’m getting married outside and that’s it. Everyone will just have to deal with it.”

I recognized the tone, delivery, and the seriousness of her statement, because of course she learned how to communicate from me. What that means is: This decision is final.  You can attempt to change my mind, but you will fail and you will regret that action.

I pulled back the next word I had planned to say. I nodded and said, “All right, we will make it happen” and headed back down the hill.

As the rain hit my shaved-head, I contemplated just how I was going to tell everyone the news.  This is one of those rare instances in life where you disagree with a decision yet you still support it 100%.  This has to be done either out of blind loyalty or unconditional love, in this case both applied.

I first told the groomsmen I had been waiting with and their jaws literally dropped.  I moved along the edge of the crowd signaling to the rest of the groomsmen what was happening.  Then I informed the groom, he was surprised but supportive.  Next, I informed the minister. He’s one the coolest people under pressure I know.  His jaw remained firm, but the eyebrows did instinctively raise. “Okay, we will do that”, he replied. It really helped that he is the uncle of the bride; I needed all the support I could find.  Finally, I informed the facility manager.  I could tell she totally disagreed with this decision.  But the customer is always right and it was my signature on that big check. And besides the decision was communicated is such a way that implied finality.  She could have tried to change my mind, but she would have failed and regretted that decision.

By that time the news had spread through the crowd.  I found this Facebook post from a guest (used by permission):

And then we dried the chairs, got everything else ready, and the ceremony took place, - OUTSIDE.  I didn’t even think again about the rain again until I was standing in the receiving line, not five minutes after the end of the ceremony, when it started raining again.  That’s right is STARTED RAINING AGAIN. At some point, just before the ceremony started, it had in fact stopped raining for the first time that day and it didn’t rain during ceremony except for a very brief sprinkle (so I was told).  You see, I was so focused on
Should have sang at the wedding!
making the ceremony happen despite the bad circumstances, I had failed to notice the rain had stopped.  I think that often happens in life. We keep fighting the dragons long after they have gone away.

And what did this feel like? It felt like raaaaaain – stopping - on the wedding day. It was the good advice, that I decided to take.  It’s like God showing up at the wedding, right when he needed to be there. 

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