Seven Days in Spain - How to Survive in a  Family-Infested Foreign Land


It’s 2004 and I, the mother-of-the-bride, am nervous to attend my daughter’s wedding in Spain when I feel the cards are stacked against me. My bride-to-be seldom checks in since college. My youngest, the maid of honor, who left home at sixteen, says, “I need to keep you at arm’s length.” My ex, who thinks I’m a fruitcake, will attend, as will his two other daughters, who left my home in a huff.


I am dealing with a serious case of alienation. I’m fearful old family conflicts will arise and cause the wedding to be a disaster. What I have always hoped for is some reconciliation and a new start with those I care about. And experiencing the excitement and beauty of Spain might help me break out of a closed-off life after divorce and empty nest syndrome.


Even before I arrive in Spain, troubles begin. First of all, I must travel alone as family members have made other travel plans. I’m nearly arrested by Detroit TSA for sassing a security guard. Once in Spain, I struggle with my bad Spanish as the Sevillian family and friends speak not a word of English and although flattered, I must rebuff Grandpa Manuel’s amorous attentions when he finds me “muy guapa.”


The day of the wedding, my future son-in-law flashes past me naked in a communal dressing room as I wrestle with too-tight shapewear hung up around my ankles. I discover, to my dismay, that my first-born will be married by a Communist transvestite county clerk with anxiety issues who has never conducted a wedding.


My protestations about things going wrong are met with, “So?” and “Mom, you’re such a drama queen.”


In the midst of these and other unexpected happenings, I find that family members, current and ex, are dealing with some life trials of their own since we last met, and that my life trials have made me stronger than I think I am.

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