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Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Brother Sam Gets Married

It’s not every day I’m asked to climb a top a mountain, hide behind a tree and film a surprise engagement, but that’s exactly what my younger brother Sam asked me to do.  A 12-year gap hadn’t changed the fact we’d been best friends since he was born and considering I’d do just about anything for him, I quickly figure out how I can make this happen.  Since having my sixth kid I’m a bit out of shape, but how hard can hiking a mountain be? 

“It’s not a mountain, it’s a hill,” my husband says as I tell him the plans.  Brown Mountain is less then half a mile to the top and ascends only 300 ft..
“Fine, a hill,” I respond before placing a kiss on his lips. 
 Whether it’s a mountain or a hill, I put on my running shoes and workout clothes.  Last minute, my oldest son Chandler asks if he can come to help out.  Looks like Sam will have a film crew of two hiding on top of the mountain for this momentous occasion.
We’re supposed to leave at 5:00pm, but Sam’s waiting to pick up the ring, which had been sized over the weekend.  Like a specialized doctor, I finally get the call.
“Can you come down to Mom and Dad’s to see the ring first?” he asks and the excitement in his voice barrels me over.

I’ve lived on the same street as my parents for seventeen years, so I race out the front door and within two minutes, I’m standing in my mom’s kitchen staring at the beautiful diamond in Sam’s hand. 
“It’s gorgeous. Sasha will love it” I say a bit in awe at what my brother is about to do.  He has met the most wonderful girl and she will soon be his wife. 
“Thanks,” he says nervously.  “The sun’s about to set and the timing is perfect,” and I know he’s implying more then just the setting sun. It was only a few months ago he was contemplating returning out-of-state for college.  Should he stay in Arizona and build up his business of teaching tennis or finish up his teaching degree in Idaho?  Our parents had been living in London, so when he needed someone to talk to, he came to me.  Truth was, we went to each other most of the time when making big-life decisions and sometimes when just wondering what to have for lunch.  That’s just how our relationship was.
    I’d never seen Sam more nervous.  He’s already changed his shirt twice.  Before Sasha his hair had been a jet-black Afro of frizz, but thanks to her influence and styling advice, his newly- manageable hair had the curls and waves of a movie star. Just as I’m about to leave, I spot two metal basket in Sam’s car. Each holds about 100 tennis balls. As a tennis coach, these are his teaching tools and they’ve followed him around for years. That’s when I have an idea and place the metal baskets of tennis balls in my car.
I’d seen Brown Mountain while driving out to my older sister’s house.  It’s about as sparse as most desert mountain tops – nothing but a gnarly bush or spiked cactus in sight.  I imagine Chandler and I wearing detective coats, a baseball cap and shades –  hiding behind the slender branches of the creosote bush.  It just wouldn’t do, but for Sam we would find a way.  There must be some where to hide on top of an Arizona mountain.
Chandler and I arrive at the bottom of Brown Mountain and park our car.  I open my door to a gust of wind and the cool March air washes over me.  I’m so glad Chandler has joined me.  He’s seventeen and I want him to witness such a momentous moment for a man.  I share my feelings with him about marriage, Sam and dating, but time is of the essence.  We needed to get to the top of that mountain.  Now, I was the one who was nervous.   
Chandler offered to carry both metal baskets, each containing about 50 tennis balls. I insisted I could carry one, of course, no big deal, but within minutes I’m winded.  
Several people passed me by.  Their puzzled looks suggested we might be up to trouble.  What type of person they must think me and my son to be – devious vandals who want to terrorize the community by throwing 100 tennis balls off the mountain.  One woman is so perplexed; I simply tell her what I’m doing. 
“My brother is a tennis pro and he’s proposing to his girlfriend tonight.  We’re spelling out her name with tennis balls.”
Instantly gone is the face of disdain and replaced is one of elation and excitement.  “Oh, that’s just wonderful.” 
See, I want to say, we’re not a menace to society after all, but I’m just amused at how silly we must look. 

Chandler’s steady pace is no match for my constant stops to catch my breath, but I take the time to take in all that’s happened over the last few months.  I can’t believe Sam is getting married.  I always knew he wanted to get married.  He’d turned thirty the year before and during his twenties, dated a few girls here and there, but with a heart as open and caring as his, dating hadn’t been easy. He struggled with self-doubt and it took someone like Sasha to point out the obvious – that he was a catch!
     
    

          Chandler and I found a small ledge off the mountain where we hid.  I didn’t want to be the girl on the evening news- being reported she fell 300 feet to her death while filming her brother’s engagement proposal. Chandler and I secured ourselves and thank heavens there was a small shrub and way-wind grass to hide behind, and we waited.  From where we were hiding, we could see when Sam and Sasha parked their car near the bottom of the mountain.  The hike to the top would take about 10 minutes.  Finally, they arrived.  There they were, this amazing couple. Sasha had spent the last several years of her life caring for her tender husband who suffered with bone cancer.  He died last year and Sasha was a widow and a single mom with three young children.  I couldn't imagine the heartache she'd lived through. Now, here she was.  Her and Sam had found each other. 
      I started filming and Chandler took pictures.  SASHA – her name was spelled out with the tennis balls and we’d placed a bouquet of a dozen roses in the metal basket.  We were too far away to hear anything, but recorded as Sam got on one knee, watched as Sasha said "Yes," Sam placed the ring on her finger and they kissed.  At this point, you can hear me on the recording crying.  After a few minutes, Chandler and I climbed out of our strange little hiding spot and surprised Sasha.
          Sam and Sasha were married in Hawaii.  

A week later, had a ring ceremony and reception at my house. 
I can’t quite put into words the joy, gratitude, shock and love I have felt during this experience.  Sam is that little boy I helped raise and now, he is the best husband and father in this blessed beautiful family. 
Sam with his daughter Cecily.
I love you Sam and Sasha.


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