Memorial Day weekend a rather improbable chapter in Edstrom family history was written when my sister Nancy married her old high school classmate, Steve Bachler. The match is rich in symmetries, as not only the bridal couple graduated in 1968, but also their twin siblings, Sue Bachler and Nick Edstrom, all of whom grew up together starting in junior high.
Everyone who has spent time with Steve and Nan lately can easily see that they were meant for one another, but it took them most of their adult lives to come to that conclusion (or perhaps it took them each many years to completely develop the full range of personality qualities and quirks which complement so well).
It is Nancy’s first marriage which has, of course, given rise to much ribald commentary along predictable lines. In fact, as part of the ceremony, Fran and I were honored to read poems we had each written for the occasion. The first verse of mine ended with the lines, “Something wrong has finally been made right/Steve and Nan tonight sleep man and wife.” They provoked gales of knowing, winking laughter, although the “wrong” I referred to was the long, unfortunate separation of these soul mates, and was certainly no inappropriate reference, on such a solemn occasion, to some sort of irregular arrangement. Oh well, it is a naughty world, and good poetry will have different levels of meaning, some perhaps unconscious.
In any case, had I known beforehand the quality of the other performers at this ceremony I would have thought twice about stepping up. In addition to the usual excellence on piano and organ provided by Jonelle Moore and Sandy Todd, the incomparable Ryan family strings played throughout, Heidi and Kevin on violin and daughter Rachael on the cello, an under-appreciated instrument. In Rachael’s hands it presided over the afternoon with a rich and mellow, beneficently maternal presence. At one particularly lovely passage I had a flashback to my father, a sucker for the violin, weeping at some long ago musical event; then, the tears were running down my face, too.
The vocals were also incomparable, by Tom Schoen and Christian Ryan, and Simone Perrin, Natalie Thyren, and Elsa Lacher performing solo and ensemble. The female voices, in particular, were beautifully matched, performing one stunning arrangement after another, more like a concert than a wedding. Winona has a uniquely gifted musical culture, something I always appreciate when returning from some marriage out-of-town, and the endurance of yet another wretchedly sawn-through version of the Pachelbel Canon.
The afternoon was not without elements of drama appropriate to a wedding. Shortly before my cousin Steve and I were to escort my mother into the church as the ceremony began, daughter Morgan asked her mother where little 16-month-old Andie was. Fran raced off to pick up the tyke, unfortunately, in the car without the infant seat. She reappeared seconds before the processional began, and when I opened the back car door, there was Andie, strapped in by the adult seat belt, regarding me closely with her enormous owl eyes. Naturally, she began to squall shortly after the ceremony commenced and had to be withdrawn to the nursery.
Over the years both the Bachler and Edstrom family trees have blossomed and borne much fruit. Naturally, the twins were best man and matron of honor, Nick Edstrom and Sue (Bachler) Kowalsky.
The bridal escort consisted of Nancy’s nieces and nephews from three separate Edstrom families: brother Lee and Kathy Edstrom’s Megan and Luke; brother Nick and Lori Edstrom’s Katie, Jenny, and Jason; and Fran and my daughters, Cassidy and Morgan. I was touched to see our son Jake’s name included on the program, invoking his presence.
Steve’s son Matt and daughter Katie were among the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and his three Kowalsky nephews, Ben, Alex, and Steve served in the ushers’ corps.
And our three and one-half-year-old granddaughter (Nancy’s grandniece), Peyton Gish, did invaluable service as flower girl, preceding the bride down the aisle, placing rose petals carefully, one-by-one.
I was looking forward to relaxing after the whirlwind of the nuptial weekend, but it turns out Fran promised Morgan we would take both of the granddaughters for a few days while Morgan and Dan made a quick getaway, so the family circus continued.