Just after Nicola's September 2006 wedding , Aileen and I went off to spend a week in the south of France. It was a wonderful holiday, but we had an unexpected third party along on the trip. - The man she'd been introduced to quite recently (at a performance of John B. Keane's play, The Matchmaker!) was in constant touch by text-message. There I was, driving along unfamiliar routes, relying on my sister to spot roadsigns, and when I'd ask "Is it the next exit?", I'd glance over to see her simpering and smiling at her phone, oblivious to our location, caught up in the sweet nothings being exchanged.
Fast forward six months, and on her 48th birthday, on a trip to Paris, Mike presented her with a pretty opal engagement ring, and plans were made. Their wedding last September was a wonderful day for our two families. Aileen gained not just a husband, but each of his five children has taken a special place in her heart too, and she has been warmly welcomed by his beautiful mother and his siblings.
When my sister stood up to speak at the reception, there were tears in many eyes, she spoke from such a deep place in her heart - very briefly, (and against the advice of our older sister, she spoke without notes or practice). She reminded those of us who have known her for a long time how she had often wished for someone special in her life; that, although she had not been unhappy with her life, she had felt the absence; and that she hadn't realised that the wait was because she was waiting for the time to be right for Mike to come into her life. "I just love him to bits!" she told us. We know.
And he loves her. The tenderness of their love is a sweet thing to witness. Will you celebrate with me the happiness that has come into my sister's life?
It was a day of solemn vows, of meeting new family, of sharing good food together in celebration. It was a day of great joy, and a day of moments of utter fun: See the bride returning from her outdoor photo-shoot with the aforementioned older sister?