late, wedding, familyAs I sit in the car in utter fear and mortification, counting, counting, counting, I wonder: what has led me to this humiliating, horrible experience?

Is it because of some deep-seated hatred for my brother?

No. I shake my head vehemently as I whisper 77, 78, 79… I love my brother.

Do I want to sabotage myself by making my family, and my new sister-in-law-to-be, hate me?

Again, I shake my head no and continue counting…80, 81, 82.

No, the fact is that I hate being late, and yet, I am always delayed, postponed, behind, tardy, unpunctual, behind schedule, overdue; well, you get the picture.

I was late at birth – two days I’m told. I was a late bloomer, and didn’t even enjoy a first kiss until I was 17. At 35 I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Yet I did know I wanted to be a good sister.

83, 84, 85…

“How many more?” my mother screams in my ear, even though we are only sitting a foot away from each other.

“I don’t know,” I respond, gritting my teeth.

I am about to be late for my brother’s wedding, and I can find no excuse for it.

I rack my brain for any clues from my brother when he left the hotel (earlier) to get ready at the church.

We are all in strange territory. His fiancée’s family lives in West Virginia. I arrive from San Francisco, my mom from Delaware, my bro from Maryland.

89, 90, 91, 92…

“Don’t be late!” I do remember brother telling me that at breakfast.  “It’s a 15-minute ride to the church, and there could be traffic.”

I scoffed at him. “Traffic? In this little town?”

He grimaced and admonished: “I know you.”

So, my mom and I leave 20 minutes early, noting a bit uncomfortably that we are the last relatives to leave the hotel.

93, 94, 95…late, train, wedding, sister, brother, herd of sheep

“Beep your horn!” Mom shouts.

“It’s a train, Mom, not a herd of sheep!” I shout back.

Yes, that is correct. We left 20 minutes early, but our car is stopped at a railroad crossing, and the longest train in the annals of history is chugging in front of us.

98, 99, 100…

One hundred cars I’ve counted, with no end in sight.

“Mom, we’re in the back waters of nowhere, and we are going to miss your son’s wedding.”

Like in a stupid adolescent movie, the kind rated PG13 that only gets two stars, Mom and I scream out loud, to no one in particular, together.

But the train moves no faster.

We are desperately…



brother and sister, sister-in-law, wedding

Thanks to my brother and sis-in-law, who 26 years later, are still talking to me!

29 thoughts on “Late

  1. I am always…..early! I can’t help it. It’s a disease. First one there, I am the one pinning the flowers on the groom and groomsmen, the one running to the drugstore for hairspray and safety pins for the bride because I’m there, the one who greets family because I’m the only other one there…. the one answering questions family really should be answering “no, I don’t think we need extra chairs set up in the back” “yes, I would move the flowers closer”! Maybe, if they averaged us together, Pam….Speaking of brother’s weddings, did I ever tell you about my brother in law’s wedding when I ironed a hole – huge, middle of the thigh, no hiding it hole – in his wedding pants? I break out in a sweat just remembering that!


  2. Your story is told so well. Funny and if I may say, so close to home. I have been known to play it too closely when getting out of the house. Those freight cars have come in many shapes and forms trying to get from here to there.

    Well done!


    • Thank you so much. And yes, that’s it — playing it too close. Each minute counts in whatever I’m doing, so I don’t want to shave a second off to be present at the NEXT place I’m supposed to be…


  3. Made me laugh thinking about how your mother can be in a car ride with you! In the “Traveling to the Ocean” story you wrote for my book, she’s spirited, to say the least, so looks like you got off easy traveling to the wedding!


    • Did you love the ending part where my mom and I are screaming out loud to each other? Or the ending where my amazing brother and sis-in-law still like me? Either way, they’re both kinda incredible. 🙂


  4. I used to have to be a half hour early for work to avoid being a half hour late. If I didn’t leave on time, I’d meet the fate of the freight train, just like you and your mom. fun piece, thanks, LMA


    • Ahhh, that fascinating frustrating freight train in your town – I remember sitting there, LATE, waiting waiting waiting for it to pass, many times. At least you were smart enough to be too early to wait!


  5. Wow, I am finally breathing again! Was soooo afraid you wouldn’t make it to the church in time. Loved the way you told this story. You know how you always inspire me, Pam? You make me want to look for old stories from the past and share them. Unfortunately, after five years of almost-everyday blogging, it feels like I’ve shared most of them already. 😦


    • Wellll, my mom has reminded me that my brother and his soon-to-be father-in-law were waiting for us, tapping toes, at the church door so the service could begin. Gulp.
      NO WAY you’ve told all your past stories. Oh my friend, you have millions in there, I know it!


  6. Hilarious story Pam and so well related – I could reach out and touch your frustration. You guys do have amazingly long trains though. Is there a statutory limit or can the rail company just add on as many coaches as they like?


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