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Kay Allenbaugh created the beloved Chocolate series, culling and sharing true tales from best-selling authors, motivational speakers, newspaper columnists, spiritual leaders, and 'real women' across the country. With over two and a half million Chocolate books in print, her efforts have earned her the moniker "Caretaker of stories for women of the world." She lives with her husband Eric, also a writer, in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Chocolate and women just go together! These rich, true stories published with Simon & Schuster are the perfect gift to encourage, inspire and humor women and teen girls alike. These stories about love, overcoming obstacles, discovering your life purpose, family life, listening for the divine, or learning to laugh at yourself will warm your spirit. To become a part of this nationally best-selling, ongoing series, visit author, Kay Allenbaugh, at www.chocolateforwomen.com or visit Writers Wanted for writing guidelines and payment details for accepted stories.
Kay's talent for recognizing stories that celebrate and fortify women obviously comes from a place close her heart.
--Read one of her uplifting stories.
THE TIES THAT BIND
When our son, Rick, told us he planned to marry Amy, my husband and I were ecstatic. A playful, loving couple in their twenties, these two rock and roll musicians could not have had more in common -- including two doting mothers.
With the wedding a year away, we combined resources with Amy’s mom so that the two young lovers might have their perfect wedding.
Weddings call for all the important people in the bride and groom’s life to be present. Although both of them are high functioning beings in the world, they also carry unwanted baggage. Family life and logistics are complicated for kids of divorce.
Rick’s dad left fifteen years ago, moving to another state to marry the "other" woman. I married Eric four years later. Rick’s feelings of abandonment because his dad simply wasn’t around fueled a continual guilty reaction from his father, who claimed all Rick wanted when they talked was money. Infrequent contact over the years punctuated a wilted relationship. Amy’s dad was an absentee parent altogether. Although he lived in the same city, she had not seen her father in fourteen years, but she yearned to be loved by him.
Amy worked up the courage to write her dad a letter about six months before the wedding. She introduced herself, told him who she had become and welcomed his response. He wrote back praising her accomplishments, but did not suggest they get together.
The bride-to-be personally designed and engraved her wedding invitations and sent one to her father as well. Rick’s dad responded that he wouldn’t be attending because his name was not included on the invitation. Rick was disappointed but not really surprised. Amy came home from work one day and was overcome with emotion by the voice she heard on her answering machine. "Amy, this is your dad. I’d be honored to be at your wedding." Another reminder of the lopsided world of divorce.
We rented out the bed and breakfast for a day and a half. The wedding ceremony would take place in the living area and the bride and groom, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers could stay the night in the rooms upstairs. The majestic historic landmark with its period furniture, rich mahogany moldings, butter yellow living room and bronze and crystal chandeliers set the stage for Amy’s elegant taste to emerge. To offset her ivory gown, Amy asked the groomsmen to wear dark suits, and her attendants to each wear a long, black dress of their choice. Berries, dried hydrangeas and fall leaves were secured together by copper colored ribbons for the exquisite bouquets.
Trees showed off their fall colors on the crisp, sunny wedding day. The front door of the bed and breakfast was swung wide open so that guests could file in easily. I recognized Amy’s dad immediately from how her mom had described him. I knew that Amy longed to be escorted by her father from the dressing room along the outside walkway of the bed and breakfast up to the porch where she would make a grand entrance through the front door. With her mom’s blessing, I asked him. He seemed nervous, but anxious to please.
When the beautiful bride and her dad walked into the foyer, she stopped and nuzzled his neck before letting go of his arm. She then walked towards Rick and took a few short inhales -- more like audible sobs from a bride on emotional overload.
All was not serious at this wedding, however. Rick and Amy wanted to choose who would perform the ceremony. They didn’t want to have a particular religious denomination represented, so they selected a reverend who had received his credentials from a mail-order ad in Rolling Stone. At the wedding, the general consensus was that the minister’s lights were not on. Our suspicions were confirmed when, at the end of the ceremony, he introduced the newlyweds as "Mrs. and Mrs." Rick Bain.
When Amy’s mom graciously allowed Amy’s dad to play an important part in the ceremony, and he rose to the occasion, Amy was allowed to heal a lifetime of hurts. When Rick was able to let go of his wish that his father be present, he was able to focus on the hundred people present who loved him and wished them well. They created and pulled off their perfect wedding in an imperfect world.
After a lively reception, followed by dinner, the bride and groom decided to call it a night and they headed to their room. About ten minutes later, Amy’s mom and I got word from the innkeeper that the bride and groom wanted to say good night. So we knocked gently at their door and walked into the bridal suite, dimly lit by antique lamps.
The newlyweds, wrapped up in white terry cloth bathrobes, provided by the bed and breakfast, were lying under the covers, grinning from ear to ear. In their eyes, we saw another opportunity for love and happiness to blossom.
Like two mother bears, bound by our devotion to our cubs, we walked to the head of the bed, leaned over and tucked our kids in, then symbolically traded sides and tucked again -- forever sealing those ties that bind.