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  • by Carolyn Lackey

Meems and Leo Go to a Weddin'

The ladies in Aberdeen house at Meem's assisted living facility had been all a-twitter. For several months, they had been anticipating the day. During Bingo last Monday, Meems made several comments about the bride who happened to be "calling" Bingo that day.

"I'd be too nervous to be playing Bingo if I was about to get married!"

"Mom, the wedding isn't until Friday."


Forty-eight seconds later:

"She needs to go get ready for the wedding!"

And, so on...and, so on...

One of Aberdeen's beloved caregivers, April, was getting married to her sweetheart, Eric. She loves the ladies of Aberdeen well, and they love her back. One of the more mentally alert ladies gathered cash from each of the other ladies to purchase a Walmart gift certificate for the bride and groom. The assisted living facility is a "cash free," all-inclusive society meaning that most of the purses bear only Kleenex and lipstick. Some of the ladies had to dip into the Bingo quarters they had saved up over the months. (bingo = 3 quarters blackout = 4 quarters) Mom has about $39 in quarters tucked away. Not bad for a legally blind person who has trouble finding the giant numbers on the Bingo cards. The ladies proudly presented a $200 gift certificate to a very surprised bride one day when they were gathered around the dining tables having lunch.

As the day of the wedding approached, Leonard called me on several occasions to remind me. "Your mother is going to April's wedding! Are you going?!" "Yes, Leonard, I'm going to meet the transportation van at the wedding." "I didn't get no invitation." (That's a direct quotation. Mother has scolded him about his use of double negatives since the day they met. Leonard was a high school math teacher. Apparently, grammar is low on his list.) "Well, Leonard, maybe April just wanted it to be a 'girl thing.'" "That's probably right." I knew that he would give his right arm to see Miss April's wedding. Last Thursday night at about 9:00PM, he called me. "Am I supposed to go have lunch with your mother tomorrow since they are going to the wedding? I guess they are going to have to leave for the wedding at 1:00 since it starts at 1:30. I'm not sure that I'm supposed to go eat with her." I told him that he could call the facility Friday morning for "clarification."

Friday dawned misty and cool with promises of afternoon sun. At lunchtime, I dropped by Aberdeen to see if Meems was having a "sleepy day" in which case she would not be aware that she was even at a wedding. She was wide awake and finishing up her lunch with Leonard. One of the caregivers happily announced, "Leonard's going to the wedding, too!" His face lit up with a broad smile. "I'm going with your mother to Miss April's wedding!!" My heart sang on his behalf.

The ladies looked like flowers in their nicest pants and cutest blouses. I spied lipstick and earbobs and the air was sweet with perfumes. Lunch had been served early so that they could board the wedding van at 1:00. Last minute trips to the bathroom were made. At 12:30, motorized wheelchairs, old school wheelchairs, and 4-wheeled walkers began to parade towards the main lobby. Excitement filled the air. "The van is here!" They were goin' to a weddin'!

The wedding was the second for both the bride and groom. It was held in a tiny chapel nestled in a canyon just outside the Lubbock city limits. By the time I arrived, some of the ladies were all situated in chairs, their walkers stowed in the back of the room. Several of the women had chosen aisle seats so that they could see April's smiling face as she walked down the aisle. Wheelchairs lined the back row. Seriously, people. My heart almost burst at the sight of those smiling, softly wrinkled faces.

The wedding was short and sweet. A friend officiated. "And now, by the power vested in me by the American Association of Wedding Officiants and the State of Texas..." After the kiss, the Ladies of Aberdeen clapped their withered hands heartily. Cupcakes were passed out. Pictures were taken. Congratulations were given. Friday, April 14th, had become a happy memory in the life stories of nine women whose day to day existence is quiet and predictable - except for Bingo days.

Congrats to the bride and groom! April, I cannot even begin to thank you enough for including the Ladies of Aberdeen and LEONARD! They were blessed beyond measure to be counted as invited guests to a momentous occasion in the life of someone who treats them with love, dignity, and respect. I wish you and Eric years of joy and happiness. Postscript: Mom asked me at least 3 times during the wedding if we were at Bryce Canyon.

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