For your reading pleasure I have the toast I gave Will and Laurel at the rehearsal dinner at the Tommy J West Club at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. I planned a multi-media event for the 70 people in attendance by having pictures that went along with my text flashed on the 12 TVs there at the venue. After the toast, there is Hannah’s poem for these two New England kids. Finally, there is a short video from the wedding of the mother and son dance.
Hannah and I are pleased to be here to celebrate Will and Laurel’s marriage.
I want to tell you about the first time we met Laurel. A few years back, Hannah and I were at a Merrimack College hockey game in the Blue Line Club above the ice rink between the first and second periods. Will mentioned that he had someone he’d like us to meet. As you might have guessed, that was Laurel, who was with her good friend Lisa. We chatted briefly, enjoyed her company, and said our good-byes as the second period was about to begin. I thought, They have only known each other for a few weeks and he’s introducing her to us. That’s not his usual MO. That’s pretty cool.
During the break between the second and third period, Hannah and I returned to the Blue Line Club and just hung out. And then all of a sudden Laurel and Lisa reappeared. Laurel said, Lisa and I have to leave now, but before we go, I wanted to say I enjoyed meeting you two. I thought whoa. Here is a young woman with social graces and courage. She could have gracefully exited the building without a good bye, but she made the extra effort to connect with us. That was very cool.
Now Will. No jokes. He is just a positive life force. As a son, he is the one who built us a fire pit, re-shingled our shed roof, mows our lawn when he’s home, and annually includes us when his St. Mike’s roommates come to our house each summer.
Well, you may not know this, but when Will was eight, he and his sisters [Robyn was 10 and Molly 12] traveled with us as a family to camp and hike in the American West, including Zion National Park in Utah.
The first two miles of the trail are steadily rising switchbacks that take us high above the valley floor. There are no guardrails; this part of the trail is six feet wide, not dangerous, and very popular. And then as we approached the mountain ridge, we noticed people sitting around. We wondered what’s up.
Well, what was up, was that to continue for the last half mile of the trail we had to grab on to chains secured in the side of the mountain 1500 feet above the canyon floor. At the end is Angel’s Landing, a 20’x20’ postage stamp perch. At this point, I was thinking, the ranger said it was a family hike so it must be okay.
Wise beyond her years, Robyn wanted no part of this last section of the trek and hung back. The rest of us carried on, grabbing the chains and doing our best to never look down. As I moved forward together with Molly, – Hannah and Will teamed up about twenty feet behind us.
We’d grab the chains for 50 feet or so and creep along the mountainside. Then there would be a flatter area to rest and regroup. I could tell that this was not Will’s idea of a good time. There was good reason to wonder what the hell we were doing as parents. People could die if they fell from this trail. Kids are supposed to be able to trust their parents. It passed through my mind that Hannah and I were not going to be candidates for Parents of the Year any time soon.
Whatever doubts Will had about completing this hike were tempered by his little brother desire to do what his big sister Molly did. We asked him if he wanted to go back with Mom. And whatever he felt, he said he didn’t want to go back. So we all pressed on.
And then what seemed on the surface to be bad fortune, was, in fact, the Universe opening a beautiful window of opportunity. While climbing over this desert terrain, Will got a bunch of cactus spines in his hand. He now had the perfect excuse, the safety net, to go back with Hannah and not lose face. Once Hannah removed the cactus, Will was all in for going on to Angel’s Landing. And damn if he didn’t make it.
Well, we all made it to Angel’s Landing. There were 20 others there to celebrate with us on this tiny perch above the Virgin River Valley. As a young kid, Will showed some of the toughness and resolve that has served him well from Maine to Vermont to Massachusetts to here in Virginia.
And thanks to Will and Laurel we have a fabulous weekend to celebrate the marriage of two fantastic young people.
To celebrate their marriage, Hannah has written a poem for the new couple.
My Wish for You
Could it be this day is here? Here we all are, some from far, some from near.
A Portugese babe and a Will with a Way are the reasons we’re gathered together today.
“Match.Magic?!” Well… Match ’em.com. In less than a month – things were moving along.
Halftime at Merrimack hockey we met, a girl from the Cape; our hearts were beset…
…beset with affection, for it became clear: J. Will was the happiest, we’d seen him in years.
A boy from the Maine land – “the Way Life Should Be.”
A girl from the Cape – was it destined to be?
The parents all met for a Crane BBQ; Will set the fire and it burned the night through!
Ken gave his blessing – and handed to Will, his second-born daughter, nurse at Beth Israel.
Sandy, she fed us and made us feel glad that Will had picked Laurel, her sis, mom, and dad.
Things kept on changing: Laurel, then Brian moved in. A new job in Virginia – what to do then?
Take the leap, make the drive, rent a house, get a dog;
a new job for Laurel, make new friends, say “thank God.”
All this in 2 years – 10 years’ worth it might seem;
and now here we go – on to more hopes & dreams.
but first, a big thank you to VCU friends, and St. Michael’s brothers: the love will not end.
Now New York is calling: “Come try us next!” We wish for and hope that again they’ll be blessed
with new friends, more family, yes challenges, too; together, united, they’ll see it all through.
Together, with all of us gathered around, your life will be rich – and Good will abound.
So my wish for you, is that always you know:
Home’s where you make it. wherever you go.
Hannah Rothermel April 24, 2015
Hannah and Will dancing the mother/son dance in the Barn at the Vintager B&B in Quinton, Virginia to “My Wish for You” by Rascal Flatts.