It’s Sunday evening. We leave on Tuesday morning. One more full day on Mackinac.
I refuse to be sad though. What a great nine weeks we’ve had in Michigan this summer! Three wonderful weeks at Black Lake with Sue and Terry, followed by six glorious weeks on the island. Except for a few days of rain here and there, the weather has been perfectly perfect. We’ve seen, visited, and eaten with old friends – and picked up a couple of new ones along the way!
It will take us a couple of nights on the road to get back to Florida, and we’ll stop for a visit with Jason in Atlanta on Wednesday night. Then, good Lord willing, we’ll pull into the driveway of our Beverly Beach home on Thursday, unpack, and prepare for a great Florida winter. As always, safe travel prayers will be much appreciated.
A Wedding Tale (the names have been changed in this story)
A couple of weeks ago Susie, a Bree’s Blog reader, contacted me by email with a request. Her parents, who had divorced 15 years ago, were going to remarry on Mackinac on Friday, Sept. 25, on the grounds at Stonecliffe. It was really an elopement, and there were to be no guests and no photographer – just the couple, a minister, and strangers as witnesses.
Susie was devastated she wasn’t going to be there, but she has a new baby, and . . . she lives in Texas. Her request was simple – would I please go up and snap a few photos (without the couple seeing me, or maybe just pretend I happened to be there taking photos for something else) – my “cover” story was up to me. Being a sucker for romance, I immediately said “Sure”, and asked her to contact me the day before the wedding to give me any additional information . . . like where on the grounds to find them!
On Thursday (the day before the wedding) Susie still didn’t know many details. Her mom and dad, thinking there was no reason for anyone to know anything, couldn’t understand all the questions their daughter was asking. They just kept saying, “It’s just a very simple ceremony. Why are you so curious?”
Flash to me. I was into my cleaning/packing zone and thinking, “Why on earth did I commit to riding to Stonecliffe and taking photos of folks I don’t know? I don’t have time to do this! What if they have me arrested for crashing their wedding? What if I can’t FIND their wedding?!
I emailed Susie and pretty crabbily said, “I’ve got another commitment later Friday afternoon (I did), and I’ve got to at least know where the ceremony is taking place. I can’t just walk around up there hoping I’ll stumble on it.”
I’ll be painfully honest here. I was really hoping she would say, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I found out someone else is going to be there with a camera.”
Instead, Susie emailed her mom and dad and spilled the beans. Bree the Blogger was coming to their wedding to take photos, and she HAD to know the location!! And, after having a good laugh, they told her.
Back to me the day of the wedding. There I was. Huffing and puffing up Cadotte, sweating/glistening like the sweater/glistener you all know and love. I got off to push my bike up the steepest part of the road, wiping my brow and silently saying, “I don’t believe I’m doing this.”
Once I made the turn at Four Corners onto Annex Road, I pedaled the rest of the way out to Stonecliffe. Unfortunately, it wasn’t cool enough to dry me off. I arrived with semi-damp hair and runny mascara. I was a mess.
My plan was to run inside Stonecliffe and freshen up – then go to the location I’d been given, snap a few photos, and be back home in plenty of time to get where I was supposed to be next. As I approached the mansion, a handsome gentleman dressed in a suit and tie walked toward me, smiling and offering a hand.
“Are you Bree?” he asked shyly.
“Yes I am,” I said, still dabbing at my hairline with a wadded-up Kleenex.
“I’m Joe, Susie’s dad.” We shook hands, exchanged a few words, and I excused myself to run inside. I splashed cold water on my face, dried it, and plopped the hat I’d brought with me down over my wet hair. Not perfect, but we do what we can do.
Outside, I met the minister and his wife, and Joe called his soon-to-be-wife-again Ellie and told her everyone was there and we could start early. He also asked me if I could be a witness because they needed one more. I sure could.
We turned and walked toward the grotto, but I stopped about halfway and waited on the bride, thinking it would be a great photo to get her coming across the grass with the mansion in the background. Joe and the minister and his wife walked on ahead so they would be in their proper places.
I stood there alone in the shade of all those glorious old trees that edge Stonecliffe. Behind me the sun glistening off the water of the Straits was almost blinding. A light breeze lifted the brim of my hat, and I realized I was no longer glistening. The sky, which is only that blue in Michigan, reached down and blended with the blue water of Lake Huron. The only sound I heard was the wind in the trees and the distant horn of a ferry far below. And I thought, thank you God, for sending me here today.
At that moment a movement caught my eye, and I turned to see Ellie coming across the grass. Her hair was blonde and loose, cascading around her shoulders. Her dress was beautiful and classic. In one hand she carried a pair of high heels. On her feet she wore flip flops. I almost split my lip grinning at her, and I started snapping one pic after another.
I walked a little ahead of her down the rocky path, stopping at one point to capture the moment when she leaned one hand against a tree to change shoes. By the time she went forward to meet Joe and the minister, I was in place beside the minister’s wife – a little off to the side.
I’m so glad no one was videoing the wedding because all they would have heard over Joe and Ellie’s vows was the sniffing of one very moved photographer. The vows the minister asked them to repeat seemed to be tailored just for them. I don’t know their story, but I do know the way they looked at each other and touched each other and smiled at each other. These two people love each other very much. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it just takes a few years apart to realize that.
After the ceremony, we all laughed at Susie’s original attempt to get photographs of her mom and dad’s wedding. Ellie said she sure was glad she hadn’t looked up and seen me standing behind a tree taking photos! It would have scared her to death!
When I got back to the condo, I emailed the best of the pics to Susie, and her words back to me were so touching. “You made ME cry. Couldn’t have sent these gorgeous photos at a better time. I’m sitting here in Texas with my youngest baby snoring away on my belly and these photos took me to Mackinac with my parents. Thank you so much. Such a beautiful day. Looks like the Island worked its magic again!”
It sure did. Having a servant’s heart is such hard work. I struggle with my desire to “do unto others”, but too often my selfishness and preoccupation with “me” gets in the way. When I remember to “let go and let God”, everything always works out in the best possible way. Why do I find it so hard to remember that!?
Thank you, Susie, for inviting me to the wedding of your mom and dad. I wish them years and years of happiness, and I know you are a blessing to them.
So, I’m sitting here about to hit the “publish button”, and – from below my third story window and out of the dark night I hear, “BRENDA!!” I turn my head toward the window and can just vaguely make out – by the streetlamp – a lady on a bicycle.
“It’s Yvonne!” she calls, and I laugh out loud (Yvonne is the third person from the left in the group shot of us in front of the Stuart House).
“I was just riding by and looked up and saw you in the window – busily typing!” she yells.
“I’m just finishing a blog,” I shout.
“Ok – I’m on my way then back to the hotel to read it!” She laughs and rides off.
And now you’re IN it, Yvonne! Love you, girl! You made my night!
Only on Mackinac!