When I was principal at Lincoln Northstar High School, I was blessed to have so many refugee and immigrant students. I loved hearing their stories and helping their families navigate the United States. But one student—a 15-year-old born in Togo, Africa—became my life-long friend.

Finding His North Star

His name is Vincent. Vincent was intelligent, bilingual in English and French, social and successful in several clubs at Northstar. Vincent’s mother was a single parent to three boys. They didn’t have extended family in Lincoln, but they did well. Over the years, I watched Vincent grow in his career and personal relationships. He met a wonderful young woman, Elizabeth, and introduced her to me at Thanksgiving dinner.

Love in the Time of COVID-19

Then, during the height of the pandemic, Vincent and Elizabeth called me. They wanted to meet with me. When they arrived, Vincent announced they were getting married. Since neither of them were religious, they wondered if I would officiate their wedding. I quickly said yes.

Planning a Pandemic Wedding

They weren’t having their wedding until 2022, which gave me plenty of time to get ordained. I contacted a friend who knew how to get an officiant certificate online. She talked me through the process. Done.

Later, I had to plan the ceremony. Throughout the process, I asked for their input, posed questions to the couple and continued my research. Little by little, everything came together. That’s when I started to get nervous. What if their big day wasn’t perfect? Not a day went by without me thinking of how I could make things better for them.

Up until the rehearsal, I had kept quiet and did what I was told. But that night while everyone scrambled, my principal voice came out. I directed staff that hadn’t worked a wedding before. I reorganized the processional and recessional when the mothers of the couple couldn’t see as they sat on the outside of their rows. Vincent and Elizabeth gave me a thumbs up.

Becoming a Substitute Grandma

The next day, the wedding went off without a hitch. The food and venue were perfect, and the couple looked radiant—their love for each other on full display. I still felt guilty about butting in, but I reminded myself that’s what grandmas do, even substitute grandmas. They work hard to make things perfect, stepping in when something is off. And while I’m not ready to officiate at another wedding, I know I can be a substitute grandma any time I’m needed.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

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