Memphis, day 4

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The wedding ceremony started in the early evening, so we had a day free for a change! Rather than load in more family time, Melody and I took a trip to the Metal Museum in Memphis. I didn’t even know this place existed, even though it opened while I still lived in town, back in 1979. It was unexpectedly delightful! There were lovely grounds and gardens with larger metal artwork, atop the bluff on the banks of the Mississippi River. The museum included a working foundry and blacksmith, and two historic buildings with a broad variety of smaller metal artwork.

 

We sheltered from the worst of the afternoon heat in the dark cool condo, and finally showered and suited up for the wedding. Living in the casual Pacific Northwest and being ungainfully unemployed for the past several years, the last suit I wore was for Mom’s funeral, 13 years and 50 pounds ago, which meant that suit was completely… unsuitable. For this occasion, it was decided that a new suit was called for. I went high end and got a very nice Italian suit, black, lightweight enough for Memphis in June. I’m not the best judge of these things, but Melody seemed to be entirely pleased with the result. Apparently, I clean up quite nice. And, it should go without saying, Melody herself looked staggeringly lovely with what seemed to be the most minimal of efforts.

The wedding was held in a trendy boutique hotel in downtown Memphis. The service itself was held in the hotel basement in a converted bank vault. From where I was seated, a number of the photos I could take were shot through the bars of the bank vault. I’m not saying that’s a metaphor for the institution of marriage, but…

The ceremony was very short, and soon thereafter everyone moved to the roof of the hotel for the reception. By the time we got up there, the weather had started to cool a bit, the sun retreated behind clouds, there was a soft breeze blowing off the Mississippi, and we were treated to a lovely sunset. My brother and niece did the traditional Father and Bride dance to Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, which was the point at which I couldn’t resist tearing up (and neither could they). The groom and his mother danced to Guns and Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine”, which the crowd responded to very enthusiastically. I had only met the groom’s mom the night before and I instantly took a liking to her. After the dance I told her how much I loved the unconventional choice, and she told me the song was a hit when she was pregnant with her son, and she used to sing it to him as an infant. Whew, did that make me feel old!

 

The food was diverse and lovely, but of special note was one dish; sweet potato biscuits topped with a medallion of pork tenderloin, an overt homage to my mother’s cooking, since we all grew up eating her sweet potato biscuits with country ham. So there was yet another excuse to tear up joyfully.

The DJ mix was outstanding and playful, running from Kool and the Gang to the Jackson 5. Melody danced enthusiastically with more than a few people, including my sister-in-law and brother, and after more than a couple of glasses of wine, I danced several songs with her, in my own talentless but enthusiastic way. It didn’t take very long before the dance floor was crowded with people, including my cousins and their partners. We were silly and playful and it was terribly lovely. I can’t recall when I’ve had such a good time.

The only sad and hard part of the night was seeing my middle brother Allen at the wedding. Allen has a host of physical and emotional health issues, compounded with a history of substance abuse. He looked very rough, with a suit that didn’t fit, an unkept mane of hair, and a slurred mumbly voice from several missing teeth. After a lifetime of trying to help Allen, or trying to put him in a position where he could help himself, and countless burned bridges, the family seems tragically sad and resigned to the present state of affairs. It was more than a little heartbreaking.

We finally left the reception a little after 11, walked through downtown back to our condo, and fell into bed.

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