Four sisters born within five years. Eleven children born to them within 10 years.
Do the math, and the bottom line is, three weddings in one year. And we are just getting started.
This, apparently, is where the fun begins.
My relationships with my three sisters have followed a parabola of emotional contact over the last half century, from the time when we were battling siblings too close in age, to the time when we were dating friends and friends of friends, to the trials of young motherhood and the angst of raising teenagers to the times when our sons left for war.
Now, three of us are hip deep in wedding madness, taking advice from the fourth, who was the first of us to walk down the aisle, both as a bride and as the mother of a bride.
What a hoot! This must be our reward for all those years of ear infections and homework battles and missed curfews and car wrecks and war zones.
We get to dress up and go to a bunch of weddings! We get to see our babies never looking more beautiful, more handsome or happier. We can't believe our luck.
The kids are planning very different kinds of weddings. A summer wedding in a public park. A destination wedding in a tropical island. A military wedding, with crisp uniforms and polished swords. It is a thematic range broad enough to keep the editors at Modern Bride hopping.
And my sisters and I are smart enough to keep smiling and saying, "That sounds lovely."
In fact, it is lovely. Pretty dresses and fancy invitations and armfuls of flowers. Bridal showers with clever favors and oh-wow wedding cakes and piles of gifts in white paper. Shiny new pots and pans and lovely linens and dreamy honeymoon plans.
This is better than Christmas when the kids were little. This is better than their best birthday party. This is better than proms and better than caps and gowns.
My sisters and I are fussing, to be sure. It has always been true that when Bob Reimer's four daughters got together it was like snakes in a pillowcase. But it is a fun kind of fussing.
How can a caterer possibly make individual pizzas for 250, even if it is the bride and groom's favorite food? Why the Virgin Islands?
Can't anybody walk down the aisle at the parish church anymore? They can get married whenever they want, but not until I lose 20 pounds.
My sisters and I can't believe what this stuff costs. We are startled by computer-aided wedding planning, and slack-jawed at the extravagant variety of wedding cakes -- Martha Stewart just put out an over-the-top coffee table book on wedding cakes, for heaven's sake.
And we are shocked at the events that have been larded on since we did this: destination bachelor parties; bridesmaids' days at the spa; rehearsal dinners that include not just the wedding party, but everyone who is in from out of town; the morning-after brunch; or the morning-after Mass.
But because our own weddings were problematic, for reasons best left buried in memory, my sisters and I are determined not to be a problem with which the next generation of wedding planners must deal.
No religious requirements. No mandatory guest lists. No arguments about style or traditions or colors or menus.
Pizza or an ice-cream sundae bar at the reception? It all sounds like great fun.
We say to the kids, just tell us the date and time, and we will be there. We can't wait.
We just have one tiny, little request.
Can the four of us sit together?