Well this has been a divinely inspired, chaos filled, exhausting, perfectly de Fleuriot week. After 6 and a half years of being part of this family in some way or another you think I would be used to the pace that we all seem to take on during these big family events or excursions. However, I am never prepared for the full force of my dear, South African family.
On June 16th we celebrated the wedding of my brother-in-law Jean-Paul and his beloved Mary-Rie. Rest assured you will hear their names again, not just here but in the folklore of the Catholic Church. I have no doubt in my mind that I have encountered two living Saints.
The wedding day was full of so many enchanting moments including a standing ovation after the couple said their vows and a sizable crowd of beloved friends waiting across the road to cheer them on as they left the church. It was the true royal wedding of 2012.
Surrounding these angelic moments where you literally felt like heaven had come down to our humble earth, the de Fleuriot pace of life would grab ahold of everything and run and run and run to get things done. This surrounded not just the day of the wedding, but the days leading up to it and a few days following. It was non-stop. It involved a lot of checking to make sure everyone was on the same page. It involved countless cups of tea usually made by Uncle Alastair to keep the morale up. It involved zap-straps and thumb tacks to make things stay put and lovely. It involved the endless optimism and photo taking and sharing of Papi and Uncle Brian, who were constantly running errands at the requests of the ladies, lifelong friends Louise, Carol and Auntie Judy. In all of this there was constant discussion and re-discussion of how things ought to go. And it was all sprinkled with naps.
On Thursday night before the wedding I had the opportunity to say a few words about the de Fleuriot family. I noted that there are three indentifying factors that define this great family and would help Mary-Rie to fit in, not that she doesn’t already.
1. Do not put the de Fleuriot’s in a box. They do not like it at all. Do not try to define them. (oops)
2. Be spontaneous. This will serve you well. If you do not embrace this you will become very frustrated.
3. Learn to take naps at odd times. If you can sleep anywhere, anytime, you will do just fine. Sleep is fleeting in this family, so take advantage of it when you can.
The change to this pace of life has sometimes been quite jarring for me. I have struggled to stay afloat in the midst of all the activity. I have often had to take some time away from it all to find my bearings again. I have wondered where my place is within this most magificent family. How can I help? How can I contribute or even make my own niche where my gifts are applicable to the success of these days to day interactions and grand events.
I still have a long way to go and I’m sure it will be a whole new playing field once children are involved. What I do know is that I am more de Fleuriot now than ever. For example, the other night I fell asleep fully face down in my clothes on a spring mattress in the living room in the middle of all the winding down action of a long day. But the Hamel inside of me prevailed at 5 am when I woke up and realized how long I had been out for. I promptly washed my face, applied toner, moisterized, changed into my pyjamas and brushed my teeth. There must be some normalcy in my life afterall.
For now I have my words, my observant thoughts and a contintual desire to ‘see each one’ in my most loved family.
Jean-Paul and Mary-Rie’s first dance was perhaps more blissful for me then it was for them. I sat on a chair holding Robbie around his waist while he was standing next to me watching them enjoy this iconic moment. As I clung to Robbie I looked around and thought of each of them: Mami, Papi, Nicole and Steve, Catherine and Grace, Pierre, Domi, and of course Jean-Paul and Mary-Rie. I then thought of my own family, especially my parents and Jeff and Michaela who were with us at the wedding.
I was filled with a sense of awe. Families like this don’t just appear out of thin air. The rarity of such a blessed family is inexplicable but for the divine love of God and an unceasing, fervent love for one another.
I am not worthy of such a life.