The Mother of the Bride

Mary Jo Langdon and Ali

Exquisite Elegance.  Those are the two words that best describe a social event planned by Mary Jo Langdon.  I couldn’t wait for Ali’s wedding, and my friends couldn’t wait, either.  Well, my friends weren’t invited, but since I had  The Golden Ticket they were going to live vicariously through me.  Pals Lisa & Teresa contemplated becoming Wedding Crashers….and if they couldn’t crash, they decided at the very least I should spend the day sending detailed text messages and photos from my cell phone.  Don’t forget the to-go containers for any left over food!

With six daughters, I already had a delicious taste of two Langdon weddings.  The last wedding included roses on three-foot stems that appeared to be on steroids (I think they were flown in from Australia), and the napkins on the dinner table had these little flashing ‘tie tacks’ that made the Country Club dining room sparkle with joy.

With all the magnificent details at Emily’s wedding, the thing I remember most is the tiny lights on the napkins.  For all I know they were from Oriental Trading Company and cost pennies a piece.  I do know they were so perfectly placed, and were the signature of Emily’s wedding and Mary Jo’s exquisite elegance.

Mother Teresa says “We can do no great things…only small things with great love.” It’s in the little things that Mary Jo Langdon delivers big love.  Don’t get me wrong.  That woman can keep track of six daughters , orchestrate countless charity events while making 900 name tags on her way to book club in the midst of  remodeling a home and walking the dog…don’t forget the perfect cup of 5:30 a.m. coffee.  I need a nap.

Sipping my morning coffee, Ali’s wedding day began as I glanced out my kitchen window to behold a monster-size charter limousine bus.  I burst out laughing, thinking “I can’t wait to tell Lisa & Teresa!” (They want to be Langdon girls, too!)  Like a massive silver cruise ship on wheels, it moved out of the Langdon dock to safely carry everyone to the day’s events.   That’s just like Mary Jo.  Keep your family safe, happy, all together.   Create a memory for a lifetime.  Who would have thought of chartering a bus?  Mary Jo Langdon.  Exquisite Elegance.

I won’t deny I relished every moment of the day.  Upon arriving at Omaha Country Club I worked my way over to two of Mary Jo’s life-long friends.  As I gushed about how remarkable Mary Jo is, her friends piped in, “Well, she sure wasn’t like that in college!”  My Scooby Doo ears perked up as this new information surfaced, but  I resisted the temptation to say, “Hey, let me let Bob buy you another drink and we’ll talk some more…”

Whomever Mary Jo was in the past, I know she was a lifeline of support to me from the moment I made the call to their next-door home telling them that something was horribly wrong with Megan.  During those frightening days of uncertainty, in anticipation of Megan having her left adrenal gland removed, Mary Jo left the perfect gift on my front porch.  It’s contents will surprise most.  Like a loving mom filling a back-pack for the journey to first days at school, Mary Jo filled a beautiful gift bag with several of the most current fashion/celebrity magazines and a purse size package of Puffs To Go Ultra Tissue.

She knew.  She knew in the days ahead I would have long days and lonely nights of sitting at Methodist Hospital.  She knew the state of most hospital magazines, and Mary Jo didn’t leave me at the mercy of a three-year old issue of Family Circle Magazine that already had been pillaged of some recipe or article by a grieving family member before me.  She knew my mind would lack the focus to read anything of substance.  Even with the best intentions of using all those hours wisely, it would take only a few minutes of looking at words on pages to realize my mind had drifted off to my girl, whose life hung in the balance.  I’m grateful for that stack of magazines packed with pretty pictures.

While the magazines are long gone (I generally left them in a hospital waiting room after I’d memorized every picture), the small light blue package of Puffs remains carefully stored in a quilted black case within my purse.  You see, she knew.  She knew that while the hospital has boxes of tissue throughout the facility, they are sand paper quality.  Mary Jo sent me off into the great unknown with the small things given with big love.

I’ve saved the famous tissue as a daily reminder that God knew I was going to cry.  I have to believe He cried, too.  There seemed no stopping the heartache, but there was provision for the very best package of Puffs.  While the image of God was reflected this weekend in the sacred ceremony of Alison Christine Langdon to Thomas James Dobleman, His image is ever etched in my mind through the woman who delivered the bag of magazines and package of tissue when nobody was watching.

I cried at the wedding, but I’m keeping the Puffs for eternity.

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Article by: Valerie Bourdain