Maria’s wedding

My daughter, Maria, and her  husband, Grant, 2004


The bridal party


With the in-laws.  Because of my Bell’s Palsy, I was unable to smile.

On Sunday, July 11, 2004, I awoke with the right side of my face paralyzed.  My right ear hurt intermittently, I couldn’t close my right eye, and I spoke and ate from the left corner of my mouth.  David took me to the doctor at Straub Clinic.

“You have Bell’s Palsy,” Dr. Cao said.  “Your facial nerve is affected and it’s caused by a virus.  Stress can make it worse.  Seventy-five percent of patients recover completely, but twenty-five percent never do.  I hope you’re one of the seventy-five percent.”

“Oh, no!” I replied.  “Does this mean I won’t be okay by Saturday?  My daughter’s getting married.”

“It will take three to four weeks, if you’re lucky, maybe longer.”  He gave me a prescription for Prednisone (a steroid to reduce inflammation) and an ointment for my right eye.  I tearfully left his office.

“Look at me, David,” I wailed.  “I look awful!  How can I face all those people at the wedding?”

“Oh, dear,” he said.  “Well, you can’t cop out, now.  You have to go.”

I felt very sad because I knew how perfect Maria wanted this wedding to be.  I worried that my dour, unsmiling face wouldn’t look good in the photographs.  And what would people think? 

When I told Maria I had Bell’s Palsy and shouldn’t be the first person people see in the receiving line, she said, “The bride’s parents are always first in line, Mom.  Don’t worry about it.”

A professional photographer, who charged $2,000, took pictures of the family and bridal couple.  People kept saying, “Smile, Glenda.  Smile, Glenda.”  I told them I had Bell’s Palsy.  “Yes, I know,” one person said, “but can’t you smile?” 

After the wedding ceremony and dinner, the program started.  A video was shown.  People burst into laughter when, in the video, I said I had told Grant, “Of course you have our blessing.  You are a good boy.  You don’t smoke.  You don’t drink…”  Thank God the video was taken when I was well!

Around 9:00 p.m., the guests started to leave.  Several people came up to me and said it was a beautiful wedding.  I was happy and relieved.  The fantasy of smiling radiantly while I watched my daughter marry hadn’t come true as I’d envisioned, but the event was wonderful.  Despite my Bell’s Palsy, I’d survived the stares and questions.

Maria and Grant’s wedding will always have a special place in my heart.

(Excerpt from my second memoir, “Love, Life, and Publishing.”)

6 Responses to “Maria’s wedding”

  1. DrumMajor Says:

    Aw gosh Gigi — You ALL are beautiful people, at a beautiful occasion. You certainly aren’t frowning, but may appear a little stoic and proud of raising a lovely family. Thank goodness everyone is still together! Cheers, DrumMajor

  2. quilly Says:

    Although I am certain your daughter would have preferred you well for your own sake, having you at her wedding was probably more important to her than having you smile.

  3. musings Says:

    I’m so sorry you went through that difficult time, Gigi. Smiling or not, you all look beautiful. Maria is such a beautiful girl, just like her mom.

  4. Kay Dennison Says:

    What a beautifull wedding and you looked marvelous!!!!!!

  5. Linda Hillin Says:

    Your pictures are beautiful and I would not have known there was a problem if you had not mentioned it.

    Our niece was not so lucky. It’s been years and her eye still droops significantly.

  6. Susan at Stony River Says:

    Those are wonderful, beautiful photos! Maria was a gorgeous bride on her special day.

    My mother didn’t smile in any of our wedding photos, but I knew she was stressed! And it never occurred to me until now, that she wasn’t smiling. Everyone looked fine.

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