Noblesse oblige

That was my weekend. Saturday was a wedding, Sunday a funeral.

Saturday was one of those days where you’re forced by polite society and good manners to do something you’d really rather not do, but you do it anyway because we desire a polite society and we have manners.

It was a wedding, at 3:00 in the afternoon, and as luck would have it — although it was not an outdoor wedding because, frankly, in this region you just don’t do that — it was a sunny, warm day. Friday had been dry, and Sunday they’d promised rain for the entire day, and then some, but Saturday was really stellar.

We got up early so we could pick up our Mom and go do a little shopping, but just a little because after we dropped her off, we had to run home to do some chores before the wedding. It wasn’t just a sunny day, it was a LOVELY day, and we’ve had precious few of those this Spring so far. Warm without being hot, sunny but with those few puffy clouds that put interest in your day.

What I wanted to do was change into some grubbies, weed my lily garden and get my new dahlias planted. I’ve never had dahlias before, but when my boss offered some free tubers from his own separations, I couldn’t resist. But it’s been so wet and cold this Spring, there hasn’t been time to get anything into the ground.

And Saturday was glorious!

But I knew if I got down and dirty, I’d get all sweaty as well, and there just wasn’t going to be time to do that and clean up in time for this wedding. So I sat on the back patio and watched birds while my sister prepared the cold dish we were bringing (potluck reception) and wrapped the wedding gift.

Then it was time to get all dressed up and haul our sorry selves off to find the little church. It wasn’t far, fifteen minutes from the house, so I was thinking to myself this wedding shouldn’t last too long, and we’d already decided we weren’t staying afterward, just leaving the food and gift, so maybe . . . just maybe, there’d be time.

You see, it was set to rain by dinner time.

We got to the wedding at the perfect time. I was there as my sister’s Plus One, because these were two coworkers getting hitched. We could’ve sat on either side, since she knows both the Bride and Groom, but we picked Bride and off we were led. I was grateful we were just acquaintances, because those get seated further back. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the front, I didn’t know these people. Aside from one of my nieces who is friends with the Bride, my sister was the only other person I knew there.

So we were seated. And I sat. After about ten minutes, they started, and we patiently watched the usual procession of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen. I lost count, but my sister tells me there were 5. Then the obligatory little boys carrying the ring boxes, and a couple of young girls dolling out rose pedals.

Then along comes the Bride, her father was wheelchair-bound but he brought her down the aisle.

Then the vows – thankfully short and standard, followed by your average candle lighting thingie, then we listened to a song written and performed by the Groom (amazing voice, btw) while they signed the papers. I don’t wear a watch, but I could tell this was about done, and I might just get home in time to get some outdoor work done.

At the very least, I could relax outdoors for a little while, maybe catch a Z on the hammock.

“Thank you all for coming,” the pastor said. “Now we’re going to ask you for your patience while . . .”

Oh, God.

My biggest fear was this would be just like the wedding of one of my stepbrothers – wherein the Bride and Groom go down row by row and “dismiss” you, so you can offer your congratulations one by one. It takes hours, if you’re not in the front rows. Back then, we were the front row because we were family.

This time, we were in the rear. Not only in the rear, but on the Bride’s side, and as it happens, the Groom’s side had to be cleared first so tables could be set up, to house the reception, because it was a small, one-room church.


Already sweltering from the late afternoon sun beating down through the window on my left, my sister and I sat there, stewing in our own juices, and had to watch the Bride and Groom release family and friends from the furthest end of the church. The progression was painfully slow, as each individual needed to chat with the newly marrieds, as if they weren’t going to be there all evening to do exactly that.

So we sat, and we sweated, and I stewed.

I knew we could have sneaked out, just popped out to our left, angled around back where the last two rows behind us were stewing and talking and asking each other if they could sneak out and not be missed.

After all, we wouldn’t be missed. We weren’t family, or even old friends.

But still we sat. And I didn’t argue, because my sister had only been working with these people for 6 weeks, and they were all a little family there, and very fond of each other, and I knew it would be best all-around if I just sat there with a smile on my face and let my sister offer her congratulations to her coworkers.

It didn’t matter that they had no idea who I was. It didn’t matter that, at their wedding, where they’re surrounded by friends and family, they’re going to care if their new coworker’s sister was there or not.

It didn’t matter that sitting there, in that little church, on a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon, was the last place I wanted to be. It just mattered to my sister that I be there. That I show some solidarity to her while she bonded with her new coworkers (all of whom where at the wedding).

And it didn’t matter that by the time we were finally dismissed by the Bride and Groom, found our niece to say Goodbye to her, then picked up dinner and got home, it started clouding over and rained until Monday morning.

The only thing that mattered was the noblesse oblige.

And the fact that my sister now owes me, big time!

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