Re: A Millennial Love Story

Re: A Millennial Love Story

By Donna DeForbes


Hey Mom, New job’s going well and… wait for it…. I’m engaged!!! His name is Kale. Pic attached.


Dear Isabelle,

Your father and I are, of course, happy for you but admit to some surprise at your hastiness. You’ve only known this man a few months. Does he work at the agency with you? Where are his parents from?

For a Communications major, I’m surprised at your typo — certainly you meant Hale and not the leafy green? Regardless, I’m thrilled to be finally planning your wedding!

P.S. There must have been an error when I downloaded the photo; I don’t see a diamond on your ring??


#EthicalMetal, Mom — look it up. No big wedding. Going green. Simple beach ceremony?


Dear Isabelle,

Is green the color scheme you’ve chosen? I’ve retrieved Nana’s wedding dress from storage, but I’m not sure it will work for a spring theme. When will you be home for a fitting? Be sure to bring Kale. We’re having the Great Room redone so we can meet him properly.

P.S. What happened to using complete sentences? Are you being charged by the word?


LOL, Mom. Check this sick video of Kale’s proposal to me — it’s gone viral!


Dear Isabelle,

I do hope you’re taking those vitamin supplements I sent. More importantly, why am I the 1,732,455th person to see a video of my daughter’s marriage proposal? I haven’t even put the engagement announcement in the paper yet. You are my only daughter, and I have rights as the mother of the bride!

P.S. Your father wants to know if Kale being a vegetarian means he won’t eat my famous escargots à la Bourguignonne.


Not veggie but #vegan and #glutenfree. Follow me @Izzie85 for recipe ideas.



I’m catching up to you on the social media now! Aunt Bea got me set up on “Pinterest” so I could create a “board” of fabulous wedding ideas. I’ve printed out color copies of all my “pins” and am mailing them to you. Tell me which ideas you like.


Mom, Great Hangout chat last night. Kale thought Daddy was hilarious! Small change re: the invitations — I’m keeping my name. TTYL


Dear Isabelle,

I never thought I would meet my future son-in-law through a box on the computer screen. Nana is surely rolling over in her grave! Kale had less hair than I expected. Was that a temporary tattoo?

Please come home for Thanksgiving. We need to meet with wedding coordinators and talk cakes. I’ve put the invitations on hold until you change your mind; surely, you’ll want to make it easy on the children.

P.S. Your father has never been hilarious.


Kale’s away for Thxgiving doing volunteer work in Mexico City. Catch you at Xmas?


Dear Isabelle,

I am putting my proverbial foot down (which is now ensconced in those gold Manolos I told you about — a golf guilt gift from your father). But seriously, we must see you at Thanksgiving to discuss this wedding in person. I don’t understand your request to keep it “small” and “green” — a woman only gets married once, you know!

Unless you’re not sure about Kale? In which case, I’ve heard that Dr. James Harrington from the club was recently jilted at the altar…


Dear Isabelle,

Since I have not heard back from you, Daddy and I booked a flight to come out there for Thanksgiving. We’ll stay with some friends who own a winery not too far from you. I’m bringing fabric swatches and menu samples.


OMG, Mom! Cancel the flight!! I won’t be here – going to Mexico City with Kale. James Harrington – r u kidding me?


Dear Isabelle,

Please do not take the Lord’s name in vain, even in acronyms. You never know when you’ll need a favor.

What will you do in Mexico City? Isn’t it enough that you volunteer at that homeless shelter? I’m forever worrying about your safety… and how would it look if you died before the wedding?


Love you too, Mom. See u at Xmas. And tell Aunt Bea I appreciate her suggestions on wedding favors, but we’d rather plant trees in honor of our guests.


Dear Isabelle,

How can people take home a tree? Will they be engraved?

Your father and I want to show our support for your “eco-friendly” lifestyle, so we’ve bought you and Kale a honeymoon trip to Costa Rica. It comes with a private jet, a personal tour guide and a stay at this five-star resort recently built on what used to be a wildlife refuge.

I’m booking a mother-daughter spa day for your return. All this wedding work is stressing my skin. Travel safe, darling.


Mom, No more planning worries — Kale and I got hitched in Mexico City! Crazy, right? Pix on Instagram.  <3

#spontaneouswedding  #KaleandIzzie  #YOLO


Donna DeForbes is a graphic designer, writer and the founder of Eco-Mothering, a blog that makes “going green” fun and easy for the whole family. Donna lives by the Bay in Rhode Island where she enjoys hiking, reading, zumba, wine and long walks with her husband and daughter on a pollution-free beach.

The Wedding

The Wedding

By Mary Ann Cooper

WO The Wedding ArtI’m planning a wedding. Or at least helping to plan one. Sean, my thirty-five year old son who lives in Chicago is getting married next May. The wedding will take place at my younger son’s home in Connecticut, where I also live. The lush yard will hold a tent, dance floor, port-o-potties and everything else that’s necessary for a garden nuptial. Since Sean isn’t here, I offered to help him check things off of his list and make it a memorable day.

My first task was to find a caterer. After speaking with friends and reading reviews, I narrowed my choices down to two. On my first call, I spoke with the owner, an enthusiastic middle-aged-sounding woman. I asked her if we might set up an appointment to review food options.

“I’d be delighted to have you come in,” she said. “I have sample menus you can take a look at and lots of other offerings.”

“Great!” I said.After giving her the date, number of guests and location, we continued.

“Ok,” she said. “Groom’s name?”


“Bride’s name?”

“Well, actually, there are two grooms,” I said. “The other groom’s name is Robb.”

She paused.  “I don’t understand. Another pause. “Oh, wait – is this a gay wedding?”

“It’s a wedding,” I said. “Is there a problem?”

“Um.  No.  It’s not a problem,” she said. The chirp had clearly left her voice.

“It’s just that we’ve never catered for gay people before.”

While I was speechless, seconds went by.

“Well,” I said. “That’s a shame.”

Seething inside, I gave her a quick thank you and hung up.

Through the years, I’ve learned how to handle myself when a gay slight or slur is hurled, whether subtle or blatant.  Previously, I used to fire back, the mama bear ready to protect her own. Now when it happens, whether I’m at a dinner party or just with another person, I exit the situation, finally realizing that I can’t repair ignorance.

I held my breath as I dialed the next caterer. After hearing Sean and Robb’s names, the owner continued taking information without any hesitation.

“It all sounds good,” she said. “We look forward to accommodating your event, and to meeting the grooms. You said they’re in Chicago? What do they do there?”

Wanting to cry with relief, I told her they were both airline captains. I wanted to tell her more, to tell her how kind and wonderful these two handsome men were. But I didn’t.

“Good for them,” she said. “See you soon.”

Sean was twenty-two and finishing college in Vermont, when after some urging by one of his professors, he came out. His first call was to me. I was always close with my sons. While they were growing up, their dad traveled a lot, and now, newly divorced, I was closer than ever to them. Sitting in my driveway, I was just about to get out of my car when my phone rang.

“Mom. Do you have a minute?”

“Of course,” I said. “How are you?”

“I’m fine, but listen Mom.  I want to tell you something.”

“Anything,” I said.

The line was quiet for a moment.


“I’m gay, Mom.”

I heard some relief in his voice, mingled with trepidation. I hesitated, letting it sink in, but realized I had to say something quickly, as I knew he was waiting for my reaction and response.

“Sean,” I said. “I’m so proud of you, honey.  I don’t care what you are. I just want you happy. This can’t be easy for you.”

“It’s not,” he said. “For years, I’ve been asking myself, why me? I just wanted to be like everyone else.  But I’m finally ok with it.”

“I’m so glad. But it must have been so difficult along the way.”

“It was awful. Seriously, would anyone ever choose to be gay, Mom?”

After we spoke, I was relieved and saddened. Relieved that Sean could finally embrace who he was, yet saddened for what might be ahead of him in places where there were people not yet willing to accept others that don’t fit their concept of normal.

During high school, Sean dated many girls, I believe willing himself to be straight. But the relationships never lasted for more than a month. He’d then get depressed, despondent, and try again. My ex-husband and I knew he was struggling; we witnessed mood swings, anger, but never really knew what the cause was. We had him speak with a therapist, talk with the school counselor.  Nothing seemed to help. We did wonder if he was gay, but his outward appearance confused us: Sean was the guy wearing the hat backwards and driving a truck with a girl next to him. We had bought into the stereotypical image of what society says a gay man should look like. Sean later clued me in.

“Mom. It’s not always what you look like. Do you know how many cops, construction workers and servicemen out there that are gay?”

I didn’t, but I’m learning.

It’s been pure joy watching Sean grow into himself, content in his own skin, finally proud of who he is. Proud enough to sit in his cockpit and film a segment for the national “It Gets Better” program, which is aimed at kids who are struggling with their identity. And when Sean met Robb two years ago, it was the icing on an increasingly solid cake.

Last month, I had another wedding planning appointment, this time with a tent company.  A representative was meeting me at the backyard to measure and plan the set-up.  Luckily, Sean and Robb happened to be in town. Looking around, I smelled the lilacs, looked at the tiered patios and the arbor, and thought what a perfect place it was to have a wedding. As we waited, the three of us discussed wedding ideas.

“How about having paper airplanes coming out of the centerpieces?” I asked. Sean looked at me and rolled his eyes, while Robb stared at the pavement.

“No?” I asked.

A truck entering the yard stopped our conversation.

“Here’s the tent guy,” Sean said.

From the end of the driveway, we saw him approaching. Short with muscular tattooed arms, the tent guy’s teeth held a stubby cigar in one corner of his mouth. He wore a sleeveless New York Giants sweatshirt, and his jeans had a belt with a chain hanging from it.

Oh boy, I thought. I hope this goes well.

Sean stepped up and put his hand out.

“Hey, I’m Sean,” he said. “This is my mom and this is Robb.”

“Joey,” the tent guy said, shaking hands. “Nice to meet you all. Nice yard. Let’s take a look around.”

Walking the grounds together, Sean had questions for Joey.

“Robb and I have a lot of friends coming. Should we go with the larger dance floor?”

Joey stopped walking and quickly looked at Sean and then Robb. He took the cigar butt out.

Uh oh. Here it comes. I knew it.

“Wait. It’s you two gettin’ married?” he asked, pointing from one to the other.

I stared at Joey, waiting for the inevitable.

“Yup,” Sean said. “We are.”

“Well, Jeez,” Joey said. “That’s freakin’ great. Happy for you guys. Don’t worry; we’ll get the right dance floor. It’ll all be good.”

I smiled. Another learning experience for me. Just as I don’t want my son to be labeled, I shouldn’t do it to others. With this in mind, I continue checking items off my list.

Mary Ann Cooper is a writer who resides in Westport, Connecticut. She has been published in numerous publications including, Salon and Halfway Down The Stairs. She is presently at work on her memoir, “The Hollis Ten.”


Stage Fright

Stage Fright

By Monica McGuire

Stage Fright ArtMy mother and I take the elevator to the third floor and make our way down the hall. “You go ahead,” she tells me. “I need to talk to the nurse.”

She says this breezily, completely confident that her thirty-one-year-old daughter knows what to do.  I don’t. I drag my feet. Maybe if I walk slowly enough my mother will somehow get to my grandmother’s room first.

The hallway smells of mashed potatoes, gravy, and mystery meat; nothing like the sweet, yeasty scents of my grandmother’s Kansas kitchen. I feign captivation as I wind my way down the hall, pausing to watch the green birds tweeting in their golden cage, turning to watch the tropical fish swimming to and fro. As I walk, I ponder each hazy country scene secured in a frame as if I might discover the next great artist of our time.

But still I arrive at my grandmother’s small room before my mother. I linger at the threshold, unsure what to do or say without my mother here.  I scan the room: two chairs, a bathroom with the door half open; a window with the curtains drawn (despite the daytime hour); a wooden dresser with framed family photos; and my grandmother lying under a handmade quilt in her twin bed. The quilt is pulled up snug under her chin. I think of greetings past: her wide smile, floured hands, fierce hug and the way she made me feel utterly cherished.

My mother is still AWOL, so I cross the room and sit in the wooden chair next to the bed. It creaks; I cringe. My grandmother’s permed hair is pressed flat against the pillow. Her pale blue eyes, now faded, leave behind a dull and detached gaze. Without her playing the role of grandmother, I feel lost. How do I play granddaughter if she isn’t grandmother?

I need to say something.  “I am Monica Michelle,” I whisper, hoping my grandmother might remember how she used to pray daily for everyone in her family by their first and middle names: John Maurice, Jane Elizabeth, Patrick Michael, Susan Marie, Maureen Ann, Thomas Ralph, Christopher Michael, Monica Michelle…

I press on with small talk, telling her about the weather and the things I’ll do while I’m here visiting our family.

“Who are you?” she asks. “Where am I? Why are you here?”

“I’m your granddaughter,” I soothe.  “Monica Michelle. We are in your room at Catholic Eldercare in Minneapolis. You live here now.”

“When can I go to sleep?”

My mother breezes into the room before I can answer. Like a gifted director my mother coaxes my grandmother out of bed and into a chair, doing her best to infuse my grandmother’s day with activities other than sleep. While I am overcome by stage fright, my mother assumes the role of hair and make-up artist; lovingly combing my grandmother’s hair, then smoothing lotion across my grandmother’s wrinkled face. I wish I knew my role the way my mother knows hers.

The next time I visit my grandmother, I go with my Aunt Marnie. She tosses her winter coat across the upholstered chair and climbs right into my grandmother’s bed, not even asking my grandmother to sit up. She puts her head close to her mother’s and whispers into her ear. After awhile she pulls back the covers, stands up. “Your turn,” she tells me.

I am relieved to have someone tell me what to do. I lie down next to my grandmother and snuggle in behind her. She is smaller than I remember. Boney. Our size feels more similar then it has a right to.

I rub her back.

“Oh that feels good. That feels nice,” she says over and over again like the soft purr of a cat. After a while her foot bumps against mine.

“What’s that?” she asks.

“My foot,” I say, nudging her foot with mine. “Now we are playing footsie.”

She smiles and lets out a small laugh.

“You used to rub our feet all the time,” I tell her.

“I did?”

“Yes. You were so good at it. You took a class in reflexology; you rubbed our feet whenever we asked.”

My grandmother’s body softens as I talk. And though I cannot see it, I know there is a smile on her face. She seems pleased to hear that she was once good at something, even if it is not something she can remember.

We grow quiet and my memories drift. I am 6-years-old again. Tangled in my flannel nightgown, snuggled up with Grandmother on the pull-out couch in my parent’s basement. She knows I am scared to sleep alone and lets me curl in.

I stare now at the back of my grandmother’s head. Taking in each individual strand of her white, not quite curled, hair as if it is a blade of grass, the bark of a tree, or the vein of a leaf.

Lying together my grandmother and I are as close, maybe closer, then the many nights I begged my way into her bed when I was young. But I know this is not one of those nights. I let my mind wander again.

I am eight. We are in Kansas, sitting on her bed. Her long arm slung over my shoulders as her large, farm-girl hand cradles my hip and pulls me close. She tells me stories and whispers in my ear. “I love you,” she says.

Then I am twelve. Lying in bed with her, listening to her advice. “Don’t get married until you are at least 25.”

I took that advice. I remember now that frosty night in January during my twenty-seventh year, the warm flickering glow of the fireplace, and the one hundred guests seated behind my partner and me.

My grandmother wasn’t one of them. She wasn’t invited because my very supportive mother did not want anything to mar our day. What if my grandmother stood up and demanded to know why two women were getting married? I know no one would have thought less of our ceremony if my grandmother had questioned the proceedings, but how would she enjoy it, not knowing where she was and why she was there?

Even now I can feel her absence on that day.  I see the lace shawl I wore; the shawl painstakingly made from the lace of her wedding dress and I try to ease the pain of her absence by reminding myself: I was the only grandchild who wore my grandmother’s legacy on my shoulders.

My cheeks grow red and hot now. I am struck by the reality of my younger, self-centered mind. I wanted my grandmother there even though her memory loss would have made it wholly uncomfortable for her. My ego does not want to own it, but my heart knows it is mine to keep.

Fatigue settles in. Four years have passed since my wedding and I now have a 6-month-old son who demands my presence for multiple nightly feedings. I lie here with my grandmother thinking she has the right idea. Maybe the two of us could sleep, curled up together for a day, or two, or three; my grandmother receiving the human touch she so desires and I receiving the sleep I so desperately need and both of us better off for finding these things together.

The next time I visit my grandmother I sashay into her room; confident that my Aunt and grandmother have modeled everything I need for this moment. I am no longer an extra. I am Granddaughter with a capital “G.”

“I am Monica Michelle,” I say giving her a kiss, “Can I lie down with you?”

She smiles, rolls to her side, and moves over a bit, so happy to be allowed to stay in bed.  I climb in, breathing in the slight scent of hairspray. I rub her back and she snuggles into me.

“What’s wrong with me?” she asks.

“You have memory loss,” I tell her.

“I do?”

“Yes. It is okay that you don’t remember.”

She sighs and moves closer, perhaps happier now that she has an explanation for the terrible feeling that has taken up residency inside her. I start talking, telling her about all the wonderful times we’ve had together, doing my best to fill her memory with mine.

Monica McGuire is a mother and writer living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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