Tag Archives: weddings

Passages: kids grow up

Passages: n. transition from one point to another

This is a week of two important passages. The first was the wedding of my sister’s older son, Daniel, in Nashville. The second is the departure of my youngest, Wylie, for Europe and the far east.

Both are occasions for rejoicing and for promising adventure. Both leave their respective mothers with mixed feelings as the sons fly the coop and enter new life stages where Mom is increasingly irrelevant.


Nashville: Family and friends came from all over to celebrate with Daniel and Lillie. A fabulous time was had by all as the two tribes spent the weekend together getting to know each other. As happy as she is for the newlyweds, and despite the fact that they will be living only two blocks away, my sister had a full-on meltdown as she realized that little Danny was grown-up Daniel… a man whose wife will now be his closest confidant.  (Of course my sister hasn’t been that for years, but when you’re going to dissolve in tears you gotta have some sort of excuse.)

Back in Vancouver: Two days after we got back it was my turn for the meltdown. My youngest child left home this afternoon. It shouldn’t be a big deal; he’s 25 for godssake. It’s not even the first time – he went off to college at 18, and until the past few months he’s hardly been back home. But since September he’s been my housemate in order to save $$ for his big trip.


He took Amtrak to Seattle, where he’ll catch a flight to Dublin and meet up with a friend from LA. They’ll bum around together for a couple of weeks then the friend goes back to work and Wylie is on his own.

So far he’s lined up a three-week stint WWOOFing (working on an organic farm in exchange for room and board)  in Sweden, and then he heads to who knows where… all the way to the far east until his money runs out, he says.

What’s freaking me out is that he tossed his cell phone and will be checking in at an internet cafe only occasionally.  I’m so used to having my kids at email or cellphone distance…

Just imagine what it was like when the pioneers crossed the plains and it could be months before loved ones got a letter, and even then the letter was itself months old!

As used to instant communication as I’ve become, Wylie has never known anything else, so it could be very challenging to be so out of touch with friends and family.

Now that I’ve had him around for awhile, “I’ve grown accustomed to his face”.  He’s a lot of fun and can make me laugh harder than anyone I know  – except his brother.

He also can be irritatingly helpful. Like when I’m struggling with some tedious and cumbersome chore, he sweeps in with a really simple way of accomplishing the task in 10% of the time.   Example: last fall I was finely hand-slicing 8 quarts of green tomatoes and onions for our famous family “Spanish Pickle”.  Wylie says, “hey, why don’t we use the KitchenAid slicer?”  Duhhhh! – I use the machine for all sorts of other slicing and grating operations; it’s just that my mom always sliced the veggies by hand, so I just kept doing it her way.

Adjustments all around.

To be a Paige: place and people of kin

I am a member of a family that has coalesced around one name, Paige. No matter that many of us were born with non-Paige surnames – we all consider ourselves Paiges. (We’re like the Kennedys — except for the Irish Catholic part, the political dynasty part, the dogged-by-tragedy part… oh, and the money. If you’re a Joe Kennedy descendant you’re a Kennedy, even if your name is something like Schriver.)

Right now I’m paying my annual pilgrimage to our family home, Pine Haven, on Cape Cod. My great-grandfather Timothy Paige bought Pine Haven in 1911 as a summer home when he came into some money from his uncle who had earned a bundle during the California Gold Rush selling pickaxes to the miners. Tim and the other Paiges had been farmers in central Massachusetts (Hardwick) for generations, so the inheritance was quite a shock.

Pine Haven -Paige haven since 1910

Pine Haven -Paige haven since 1911

Some of the money went for infrastructure in the village of Hardwick and some was spent on Pine Haven, the house next door to it and the house across the street. Pine Haven’s current owners are my second cousin Patty, who was born a Paige, and her husband. The house across the street also remains in the family and other cousins have bought or built homes within a block or two, so you could almost say we have a family compound – although it’s hardly grand.

Patty has taken it upon herself to organize family reunions every few years. We come from all across the country to participate and celebrate our Paigeness. We make a day trip to Hardwick to see the Paige Library, the Paige pew in the Universalist church, the modest Paige Agricultural Center, the statue of gold-rusher Calvin Paige.

Paige Library, Hardwick MA

Paige Library, Hardwick MA

About ten years ago Patty’s husband instituted a suitably fake-solemn ceremony when their daughter Paige married. With a ribbon, certificate and pompous pronouncement, he inducted the groom into the “I married a Paige” clan. Since then, whenever a member of the extended Paige family marries, their spouse is inducted at the reception, witnessed by growing numbers of the in-law clan, and cheered on by the “birth” Paiges.

So here’s the question: why am I a Paige, and not a Kimball, Bachrach or Keyes? Although my dad’s mom was the Paige, I carry equal shares of genetic material from my other three grandparents. I’m just a quarter-blood Paige by that reckoning.

But if my grandpa had been the Paige instead of my grandma, my Dad would have carried the name as a full Paige and I’d be a half-blood. If I was my dad’s son my name would still be Paige and I could also consider myself full-blood.

At each generation, the blood of one family line is diluted by each new family into which the children marry. Over time the dilution of a particular family’s genes could be considered only homeopathic in strength. And yet, if the family has sons at each generation who pass the family surname to their sons, the name continues at full strength, no matter how many generations have passed.

When does a bloodline begin then? Who is the most essential Paige, or Smith, Jones, Epstein, Kennedy?

Why am I a Paige? Because we say so. Because the Kimballs, Bachrachs, and Keyes never got their familyness acts together the way the Paiges did.

The regular gatherings of the clan and sub-groups of the clan reinforce our Paigeness. Patty’s collection of Paige photos going back more than 100 years and her unstinting hospitality to family members reinforce our Paigeness. The wedding ritual certainly celebrates Paigeness. And finally, we are blessed with a connection to Place. Pine Haven is the place we’ve been coming to for a hundred years, and there are more of us across the street and down the road. We can also go back to a village in central Massachusetts and see our name on various plaques on buildings, headstones in the graveyard.

We are literally grounded, and in today’s quickly changing world I find this solidity comforting.

Priestess, Pastor, Pope, Preacher, Prophet?

Last weekend I performed my fifth wedding ceremony as a minister of the Universal Life Church. I love doing these ceremonies: it’s a blending of some of my best skills: public speaker, workshop leader, Unitarian worship leader. It’s also in my genes.

My dad was a Justice of the Peace in Connecticut – and his all-time favorite task was performing weddings. My mom, my sisters and I were often called in to be witnesses because he often did the service at our house. When he died in 1994, the headline on the front page of the local paper said, “Fred Kimball dies: famed for 700 marriages.”  This would have totally cracked him up. (He and my mom were married 56 years.)

So far I’ve done a pagan handfasting ceremony, a “surprise” wedding where the guests didn’t realize what was about to happen, a wedding on a boat, and a couple of non-denominational ones. I’ve also officiated at a memorial service… whew.

I’ve been ordained by ULC since 1992 (it’s free online) but just realized I could go so much further… for a contribution of just $10.95 I can choose a reverential honorific from the following list at the ULC headquarters:

Abbe, Reverend of Rock ‘n Roll, Abbess, Abbot, Ananda, Angel, Apostle of Humility, Apostolic Scribe, Arch Deacon, Arch Priest, Archbishop, Arch cardinal, Ascetic Gnostic, Bible Historian, Bishop, Brahman, Brother, Canon, Cantor, Cardinal, Channel, Chaplain, Colonel, Cure, Deacon, Dervish, Directress, Disciple, Druid, Elder, Faith Healer, Evangelist, Emissary, Father, Field Missionary, Flying Missionary, Free Thinker, Friar, Goddess, Guru, Hadji, Healing Minister, High Priest, High Priestess, Imam, Lama, Lay Sister, Magus, Martyr, Messenger, Metropolitan, Minister of Music, Minister of Peace, Missionary, Missionary Doctor, Missionary Healer, Missionary of Music, Missionary Priest, Monk, Monsignor, Most Reverend, Mystical Philosopher, Orthodox Monk, Parochial Educator, Pastor General, Patriarch, Peace Counselor, Preacher, Preceptor, Priest, Priestess, Prophet, Rector, Rabbi, Religious Preacher, Revelator, Reverend, Reverend Father, Reverend Mother, Right Reverend, Saintly Healer, Scribe, Seer, Shaman, Soul Therapist, Sister, Spiritual Counselor, Spiritual Warrior, Starets, Swami, Teller, Thanatologist, The Very Esteemed, Universal Rabbi, Universal Religious Philosopher, Vicar, Universal Philosopher of Absolute Reality, Wizard, Gothi, Gythia, Psychic Healer, Minister of Rock ‘n Roll, Rock ‘n Roll Missionary, Rock Doctor (R.D), Rock ‘n Roll Minister, Child of the Universe, Prince, Spiritual Healer, Saint, Pope

I especially like Saint Joy, but my friends and family would cough, sputter, choke and gasp if I tried it.