As I was about to exit the restaurant, I met another “first”, my daughter-in-law’s sister and husband, Lisa and Paul Miller. Once outside, I waited patiently for Mary, the lady property guide, to show up with a golf cart to haul me down to the parking lot. As I climbed aboard, I said, “I really appreciate this. Coming up was no problem, but negotiating even the slightest downgrade can be a little unsteady take a few steps, then brake; take a few steps, then brake.” She gave an understanding nod, and we took off on a circuitous route through a dense forest that was suddenly overrun with bamboo trees. I exclaimed, “This is like another world. We might as well be in Malaysia or Viet Nam. Back in the 1960s, I transplanted a bunch of bamboo in my back yard, and within a few years, the cane had grown so tall and thick that I was hallucinating Viet Cong filtering through my ‘jungle’.” She got a good laugh out of that. We eventually got back to the “real” world of asphalt where Franz loaded me up into his SUV.
Needless to say, our trip back to the motel was a “walk in the park” compared to our ordeal in trying to find Los Patios. Back at Tom Bodett’s “We’ll Leave the Light on for You” Motel 6, I invited Franz to my room for a nightcap. While imbibing vodka tonics, we rehashed the events of the evening, joking about how long it had taken us to finally meet the rest of Ted’s family members. I rhetorically asked, “Are you having fun videographying all this?” He replied, “Are you kidding? I’m having a ball. I can’t wait to film tomorrow’s ceremony.” With that, we clinked glasses and called it a night.
The next morning, Franz dropped by to take orders for a late breakfast, so I suggested, “Why not some Egg McMuffins from the Golden Arches next door?” Before chowing down, Franz had his customary noonday toddy, but since his usual Merlot red wine was not on hand, he had to settle for pouring some vodka into a half-full 10 ounce bottle of tonic water, saying, “Ah-ha, a little half-and-half.” He went back to his room to get all duded up, leaving me to do the same. Suddenly, the room felt so empty after having Franz’s company, so I wheeled down to his room. I was juiced up (no liquor) to have some more company.
Once inside his well-kempt room, I was immediately reminded that Bro’ was the quintessential “Organization Man”, with all personal items neatly arranged on top of the dresser and dining table – a place for everything, everything in its place. I had to confess, “There’s nothing more lonely than a motel room after your company has left. You know what I mean?” He nodded in agreement. As it turned out, he was in dire need of my assistance in clipping on his tricky bow tie, which topped off his formal attire. He explained, “I bought this tuxedo for (daughter) Leslie’s wedding six years ago and haven’t worn it since. I figured this was the perfect occasion to finally wear it again.” I said, “I totally agree. Now, let me get your opinion on this.” I pulled out a black bow tie and easily snapped it on to my collar. His reaction was simply, “That’s perfect!”
We hightailed it towards downtown on I-35, passing by San Antonio’s pride and joy, the Alamo Dome. As Franz was marveling at the unique structure, I had to disagree, saying, “That has to be one of the ugliest sports venues with those four comer pylons sticking way up supporting the roof with cables. It’s a monstrous tour de force.” He and I always did relish our heated design debates, and that was no exception. Franz easily found the church since he had made a “trial run” to the rehearsal the day before. He made a brief tour of the area, pointing out the nearby Menger Hotel where the reception was to be held and the parking garage where he planned to stash the SUV. We decided it would be in my best interest to just drop me off in front of the church and let me take it from there.
Fortunately, there was a handicap ramp leading up to the front entrance, so I positioned myself next to a pew at the rear of the nave. It was the perfect spot for watching arriving guests and eventually the wedding entourage traipse through, plus all the pre-ceremonial preparations going on across the aisle at the rear of the church with who else but Ted in his “mission control” mode. Corbin Bates (remember him as the groom’s father-in-law?) joined me, and we had an engaging conversation. Despite his slight speech impediment, I had no trouble in understanding him, and in fact, his modest flaw seemed only to compliment his sincerity and wit, if you know what I mean. He was truly a fine person.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the day’s events came when a horse-drawn carriage bearing a beaming bride-to-be pulled up in front of the church. It was a sight to behold! Seeing Nicole perched there in her wedding gown made me well up inside and get a little misty-eyed. Of course, Franz was right there on the top of the steps to capture on video the memorable occasion, which was also to include the added attraction of gawking pedestrians strolling by. Corbin said, “Your son deserves Oscars for both producer and director.” I gave him an appreciative nod.
The moment of truth finally arrived with Nicole and her father standing arm-in-arm at the back of the nave, about to make the traditional stroll down the aisle. I have to admit, I again found myself emotionally charged with what was happening. After the procession got to the altar, I wheeled over to a side aisle and parked myself inconspicuously in a pew about halfway back. Even though I had my hearing aid plugged in, the rhetoric from the priest was barely discernable. I could not have cared less, since I thought of wedding ceremonies in general as being a liturgy of empty promises, considering a forty per cent divorce rate at present.
In spite of my skepticism, it goes without saying that I had full confidence in Nicole and James sharing their lives together forever in the 60 percentile bracket. During the protracted ceremony (a good two hours long), most members of the congregation periodically assumed a praying position on the “kneeler”, a ritual I reverently eschewed. From time to time, I found myself having to re-position my buttocks on the hardwood bench to avoid severe numbness from setting in. Protestants put cushions on their pews, but not the Spartan Catholics. I guess they wanted to test their congregation’s tolerance.