Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gone with the obituary

Cross-post note: This appears at my non-political blog, Harrumph! As it is marriage related, it seems apt here too.

A college chum made his family vanish in his self-written obit. A wife and four daughters vanished in his detailed recap of life and kin.
I feel a double connection. I introduced, really connected, him and the woman he’d marry….first Then over 20 years later, he’d ask me to be a witness in the bizarre and hypocritical Roman Catholic annulment tribunal.
It’s not my thought to demean any religion’s dogma or processes. Yet from a post written at the time of the declaration-of-nullity proceeding, I clearly was stunned at the acrobatics involved. Likewise, reading the obit he wrote, I marvel at the duplicity.
His second wife, also Roman Catholic, insisted on an annulment, so they could marry in their church. Her will be done. Meanwhile, while he pressured em to fill in the complex tribunal questionnaire from the Savannah diocese, I was and remain uneasy.
As requested in the cover material, I did check the papers and answers with a local priest. He heads one of the region’s largest parishes and certainly understands his church’s rules, if not MA history.  He nimbly clarified the how and why of the process. To this UU, he was an animated FAQ on nullity. While I still see it very much as a game and a fund raiser, annulment is not otherwise part of my life and that is not my church.
The puzzlement comes when the theater extended to my friend’s death statements. The RC Church is careful to claim a nullified marriage did in fact exist when it occurred and that any children resulting did not become illegitimate as a result of the declaration. With his heart conditions and knowing his end was at hand, he could not drop the ruse.
The longest paragraph in his obit lists his relatives, sort of. His second wife’s folk abound. She is s”the great love of his life.” Her parents, children, grandchildren, siblings and appendices all appear. On his side, his late father appears in the previous résumé-style paragraph. At the very bottom of the survivors he mentions his late brother.
Invisible are his aged mother, his very alive sister, his first wife and his four daughters. I can surmise that he was estranged from his family, perhaps as a result of his leaving, divorcing and getting that annulment from wife #1. I can imaging wife #2 insisting he drop contact with his birth and previous family.
I’ll likely track down and call his first wife. That will mean confessing my role in the nullity process. That would probably be good for my psyche.
My erstwhile chum seems to prove the idea in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon that “There are no second acts in American Lives.” He avoided the complications and development of personal play, going directly to the resolution, comfortable if delusional.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Alarm! Designated Solemnizing in Peril!

Lackaday, my blogger name is massmarrier and I've been at the designated solemnization biz since July 2004. Today though, the harsh news is that the long-standing MA means of plain folk performing marriages is on hold.

Allegedly having friends and relatives do the honors at the ceremony might start again next month. Given a ponderous bureaucracy and a new governor, who's to say for sure?

You can catch my various early posts from the thrilling yester-decade from the archives, like here and here and here. Also the image is of the old-style wax seal from my first solemnization. Not only is the new version just a peel-off seal embossed with a squeeze, but the application process is pretty much online (except for providing a character-reference letter).

The Globe piece on the hiatus for the process cites failure by success. The designations have become more popular. Even so, they are talking 14 a day. Maybe the governor and secretary of the commonwealth should go to a fast-food joint or the RMV to see how to process.

I have performed five marriages as a designated solemnizer and one as a Universal Life Monastery minister. I prefer the theater and elegance of petitioning the governor. In my heart of hearts, I'm sure the governor per se does not approve anything, that someone on the staff eyeballs the application to get a sense you're not trying to pull an immigration or other scam, and then a functionary in the secretary of the commonwealth's office records and mails out the form. Still, it's the idea.

By the bye, CA copied us a few years ago and improved the process. You can go to a local registrar for approval, do not have to wait the nominal three weeks (I never waited more than 10 days), and can perform multiple marriages per calendar year. We are supposedly limited to one per year, although they make an exception for me once.

In short, if we can't handle 14 of these a day, we need to tweak our process and maybe our law. We can return the favor to CA who copied our law and copy their (new, improved) version.

Truly, performing the marriage friends and in my case, a son, is more meaningful than a hired gun JP.