Friday, April 16, 2010

The lull

I feel somewhat helpless much as I did five years ago as I watched from the relative safety of Cleveland while the powerful hurricane dubbed Katrina whipped the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico into a monstrous maelstrom. I could do nothing to help prepare the unprepared, to harden the defenses of homeowners against a torrent of water and powerful winds that would strip roofs, hurl jetsam with lethal force into windows and tear down walls. The reference to a hurricane may be a bit of a reach for some of you, but I am feeling as anxious and unnerved today as I gird for my son's impending wedding as I did then back then. Unlike a more genteel era when R.S.V.P.s would be sent back almost immediately (or at least in a timely fashion), responses from invited guests were lacking, necessitating last minute phone calls to determine final counts required for guarantees. I have turned my attention to making sure the music is right for the wedding among other responsibilities. It seems that more work has been piled on my plate in these last two days to keep my attention diverted, but it only tends to make the feelings of helplessness even more pronounced in the few free moments that surface between jobs. I have written my speech for the rehearsal dinner and I am due to pick up the new tuxedo I purchased just for the wedding later today. Various gifts for guests have been prepared in advance by my sister and the bridal couple, so there is little else to do but wait. The adage "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" is apropos. My son and daughter-in-law-to-be's relatives and her nuclear family will all be here in the next 24 hours. Many of them know nothing of my family, so it will be interesting to see how we approach one another in friendship and kinship at this important life cycle event. Just as I did in Cleveland on that fateful weekend in August of 2005, I am hoping for the best possible outcome, but keeping in my mind that a missed handshake or a misspoken word could be cause for resentment, I am trying to do everything I can to be as gracious, charming and inclusive as I can. In the meantime I keep thinking that this evening marks the beginning of the Sabbath and two Hebrew words - "Shabbat Shalom" - give me cause to pause.