Monday, 25 May 2009

My great-grandfather Bray

did not attend his daughter's wedding. He disapproved of the match. My paternal grandfather came from 'the wrong side of the Port River'.
It did not matter in the least that my grandfather owned a highly successful tailoring business that employed more than thirty people or that he made the uniforms for the Governors of the state of South Australia for more years than most people could remember as well as a wide variety of other people, including many ship's captains. It did not matter that his father was the man who had first mapped the 'Port River' - not really a river at all but an inlet which was the safe harbour in those days. It did not matter that his mother was today's equivalent of the social worker, dispensing advice, food, clothing and even housing on occasion. It did not matter that they were highly respected citizens on whom the community was also highly dependent. They came from the wrong place. Worse, they were Presbyterian and the Bray clan was Methodist.
Years later my grandmother and I were making the beds one Saturday morning. I was sixteen. My grandmother was 86. We were talking about the upcoming wedding of another cousin and my grandmother told me the story of her wedding. Her eldest brother gave her away. Her mother was there. Her sister was there. Her seven brothers were there. There were other relatives. Her new husband's clan had travelled the, in those days, great distance to be there.
Her father was not there. She looked at me and said, "And you know, it still hurts."
My grandparents were married for nearly sixty years. It was an extraordinarily successful marriage filled with love and understanding, support and forgiveness but it did not have her father's blessing. She wanted it, indeed she needed it.
So, it was with immense sadness that I learned a friend of mine did not attend her daughter's actual wedding ceremony. Like my great-grandfather she had her own reasons for not being there but I wonder whether her daughter is going to feel the same way. What difference will it make to their relationship? It must make a difference.


pierre l said...

Hello. We met at "how publishing really works". You don't need to use Twitter if you don't want to.
That wedding story is very sad; fortunately, my relatively small family all talk to each other, and I shall certainly attend my sons' weddings. What a hurtful thing to do, and for it to still be remembered after 60 years.

catdownunder said...

Actually Pierre my paternal grandfather (the one my grandmother married)came from an extensive Scottish clan. He had ten siblings. His mother was apparently the most extraordinary correspondent with all her children and I know she made my grandmother feel very much part of the clan!