From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Hot Flashes and Promises

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.

Ursula K. LeGuin

I felt silly getting married at age fifty. Weren’t weddings for sweet young things with the rosy blush of youth still in their cheeks? I thought. Those were the images I saw on the covers of wedding magazines, after all. Here I was getting married, with two kids old enough to start thinking about finding their own life partners. I had gray hair and wrinkles, for goodness sake. And yet, I wanted to celebrate finding that perfect love, a love that made me young again, even though my mirror tried to deny it.

We could have gone to the county courthouse and had it all over and done with in an hour, but I wanted to mark that day with a real wedding—nothing formal, but a wedding with at least some of the usual trappings. I wanted my friends and family with me. I wanted a cake and a reception. I wanted a “wedding-ish” dress. I even wanted little plastic swans, although I never did figure out what to do with them. But what I didn’t want was to look ridiculous. Could a fifty-year-old with flabby upper arms be a beautiful bride?

The dress was the biggest ordeal. No, I didn’t want a floor-length, lace-and-pearls bridal gown, but why did every salesperson immediately lead me to the “mother of the bride” section? Did both the florist and caterer also assume that it was my daughter who was getting married?

After finding a suitable dress, thanks to considerable guidance from my most fashion-conscious friend, the rest of the preparations fell easily into place. I addressed invitations and fussed over details, feeling at once both excited and unsure. Was I being ridiculous? My family and friends offered me nothing but support and even my kids seemed to approve. But my lingering insecurity had me comparing myself to the images of the beautiful, young brides I began to notice everywhere. I really didn’t think I measured up.

The last-minute preparations were a whirlwind. My dear friend Marylou did my hair and makeup. My creative sister Janelle decorated the cake and took pictures. Mary made up beautiful centerpieces for the tables and a bridal bouquet with my favorite flowers. My other good friends helped the harried caterer finish setting the tables after his assistant failed to show up. With all the excitement, I forgot most of my insecurities. Even as I struggled into the spandex undergarment that was supposed to rein in my wayward fat, I was only thinking about how happy I was to be marrying the man of my dreams, surrounded by all these loving people.

It was a simple and beautiful outdoor wedding near the shores of Lake Tahoe. The weather was perfect. A late winter had delayed the wildflowers, which still bloomed profusely in early July. And once we had made it through the ceremony,with just a few forgotten lines, I was thrilled and relieved and so happy that we’d chosen a “real” wedding.

Everyone told me I looked beautiful, radiant, glowing. And I did feel beautiful and radiant, almost like . . . oh yes, a hot flash! With a knowing smile on my lips, I happily thanked one and all. There’s more than one way to get the rosy blush of youth in your cheeks!

Marjorie Woodall

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