I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
- Psalm 27:13-14
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
- Mark 9:35
To explain the verses, Psalm 27:14 is the verse my wife quoted most often, but when you add Psalm 27:13 and Mark 9:35, you get the essence of the woman I married.
I will honestly have to say that I do not remember anything leading up to the wedding that evening. I cannot even remember if my boss gave me the day off. I think he did, probably thinking that I would not get much accomplished anyway.
When I was a sophomore in college, I promised my roommate that he would be my best man. He was a crude, rude, rough fellow from Pittsburgh, PA. After that school year, he transferred to West Virginia, an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh, but by then, I had moved back home and started to again commute to the university. They have a new rule at the university that every freshman must stay in the dorms. I found dorm living to be impossible. Too much noise to sleep. Rampant drunken parties with unspeakable activities, so that the good kids stayed in their rooms with the doors locked. Maybe that part of it has changed, but in commuting, I controlled my environment for maximum studying and working the homework. Yet, a promise was a promise. The guy that should have been my best man then became a groomsman, along with my wife’s brothers. We also had my nephew as a junior usher, just so he, at ten-years-old, could wear a tuxedo and feel special. His father, my brother-in-law, also was an usher.
The photo above, the award-winning photo was a nice technique. We were told to look at a spot on the floor and our pictures were taken with a camera that had a filter, so that our image was simply an oval. They did not have “photo shop” in those days. But the idea is that we are looking back on our wedding, as I am doing in this post. Then during the wedding, the photographer took the main photo and then blended them during development. The photo that I have used of my family laughing while I am about to kiss my bride was near the end of the photographs. Everyone was laughing because I said, a little too loud, that if that photographer took any more pictures, I was going to cram the camera up his backside.
My wife’s matron of honor was a lady who lived across the street from my wife’s family. They had met in high school and her friend got married immediately after high school. When my wife returned to Port Acres, Texas (now incorporated into Port Arthur, but separated from the city by two huge oil refineries, my wife babysat for them.
Just one sad note here. The landlady who played matchmaker and the matron of honor both ended their marriages within a few years after we were married, I think before we ever returned from Germany.
But my wife’s matron of honor had the bright idea that separation prior to getting married was good. Her husband was into martial arts and there was a big competition in Dallas. They dragged my wife along, and the matron of honor’s husband talked this soon-to-be famous martial artist into dating my future wife. She thought that was beyond rude in that she would be married in just a couple of weeks. Too bad, Chuck Norris was disappointed and had to find a date elsewhere. I am sure he had no problems.
The engineers from work threw me a bachelor’s party since my best man was from out of town. No live entertainment, but the films were, umm, not for the general public. These days they are all over the internet, but in those days, they were hard to find.
Our Wedding Day
We had the wedding in the church where my wife and I were singing in the choir. That building is now an office building these days. It was a PCUSA church (northern), prior to the unification with the PCUS churches (southern). The split of the PCUSA and the PCUS was over theological grounds and churches from the north and south aligned with either theological view, but the PCUSA was generally more northern churches and vice versa for the PCUS. I only say this in that there are not many Presbyterian churches in the South, and the people are generally more conservative. Thus, to have a more liberal PCUSA church in the South meant that it just might be destined to collapse, which it did soon after we were married, just like the aforementioned marriages.
We only paid a small fee, in that neither of us had actually joined the church yet. I mentioned in a different post, not part of this series, that my wife paid for her dress and everything about the wedding. My brother, and ordained PCUS preacher, performed the ceremony for free as his wedding gift. Like my sister’s son wore a tuxedo, my brother’s daughter wore a bride’s maid dress, but my sister’s daughter was the flower girl. The ring bearer was a boy my wife had babysat. Those friends had been lifelong friends of my wife and her mother, that is after they first moved to Port Acres. The three bride’s maids were my wife’s three youngest sisters. Probably the older sister would have been the matron of honor, but she was in Okinawa with her husband who was in the Air Force.
That sets the wedding party. We used the United Methodist church wedding vows as my mother insisted that they “sounded” nicer, and I knew to never argue with her. The word “obey” was there, and my wife did not fail in saying it. Then again, I learned as we started our marriage that her nature was to be a dutiful, loving servant.
The photographer insisted that everyone be there early. He posed me looking at my watch nervously as a “candid” humorous photo. But to be honest, I wish he could have left 90% of his photos out so we could get the thing over with.
As my family and my wife’s family were waiting, the little boy, with two rings on a pillow, was tossing the pillow into the air. The photos were indeed taking too long, no wonder the photographer went out of business. My Dad grabbed the pillow and double, triple knotted the cords holding the rings onto the pillow. Although I never saw him do it, for he was at the entrance of the church with the bride who I was not allowed to see yet, that fact played into what was to come.
It was about that point when my wife turned to her father to ask him if she could simply go home and forget this ever happened. He was stern and told her it was a bit too late for that. I told you; she was a flight risk.
As the wedding party came down the aisle, I stood in front with my best man watching the lovely ladies approach and the loveliest was my bride, with her father escorting her. My eyes focused on my bride. I did not see the ring bearer, continually throwing the pillow into the air and catching it. I never saw my niece throw flower petals at everyone as she walked up the aisle. She had run out of flower petals half the way up the aisle and she just waved at everyone after that. The two little ones hammed it up enough to steal the show for just a little bit. I had wondered what all the laughing was about.
The vows went well. We stumbled over a few words, but we said them all. But then the best man turned, when asked to do so, to get the rings from the pillow. He fumbled with the knots, probably making them tighter. No one in attendance, other than the few that saw it in the wedding party, knew why my brother hiked up his robe to retrieve something from his pocket. He pulled out a pocketknife and cut the rings loose.
The reception was in the fellowship hall. I figured the photographers would take a picture of us cutting the cake, but their photographs continued for more than two hours. I barely had time to talk to the half dozen people from my workplace. My wife barely had time to introduce me to the few from her workplace that showed up. It was not well attended, but my wife had not run away when she told her father that she was having cold feet. And her father pulled me away from the cameramen long enough to tell me what he had told her. “My daughter no longer has a home at our house. She is your wife. If you mess this up, she has nowhere to return to, so make it work.” I looked at my wife and she nodded, to let me know she had gotten the same message. We did not take our vows lightly, but that ultimatum let us know that my father-in-law did not take the vows lightly either.
While the photographs were taken, the vandals took care of my sportscar. There were the usual cans. There was the shaving cream saying we were just married. Those were easily remedied, but why they poured rice through a vent near the back tires I will never know. A week later, I was going home from work during gridlock, going no more than 5 mph, but I pressed the brakes and nothing happened. The rice had gotten onto the brake pads by this point and the tires continued to roll until I slowly rolled beneath the pickup truck in front of me. A fine for hitting someone from behind, and a repair bill for the car and the guy’s truck which had already been damaged and we had not been married a week. That fine and two speeding tickets in about 55 years of driving. Not many could say that. But that is getting ahead of myself.
We did all the appropriate things at the reception, all photographed, and then we were off to Walt Disney World.
Our Brief Honeymoon
We stopped in Lake Charles, LA for the night. My wife had borrowed my keys briefly to put her bag in the back of the car, not really a trunk. The Z-car had a hatchback behind the two front seats, no enclosed trunk. Otherwise, the car had been locked.
Early the next morning, we drove across the Gulf Coast, not even slowing down at Biloxi, MS where my wife had lived for nearly three years.
But before we got to Mississippi, we needed gas. We pulled off at the Baptist, LA exit. There was an old-style general store there. I filled up and then went to the bathroom. She had gone to the bathroom and then found some snacks and drinks for the next leg of our journey. The just married shaving cream was about gone, but my wife became scared. She thought everyone in the place was staring at her. She asked me to pay in a hurry and we had to get out of there. We jumped into the sportscar and I sprayed a little gravel as we got back onto the highway and turned onto the on ramp. My sportscar had no air conditioning, so we had the windows rolled down about an inch or two.
We heard this loud explosion. I started to pull off the on ramp to the shoulder and she started patting my arms and saying that we needed to keep going. The explosion had to be from a shotgun and those rednecks were after us. She just “knew” that they did not like this mixed marriage, although most people thought my wife was simply a Caucasian with a medium tan. She rarely identified herself as Eurasian. But that was the fear she had in that general store.
I drove to the next exit to see if the car had been damaged. As I checked the stuff in the back, I found an open bottle of champagne with no cork. My wife had gotten a bottle from the reception that had been opened. She secured the cork in the bottle and wedged the bottle between two suitcases. Her idea was that we would drink the champagne on our wedding night, but we almost did not get to the hotel on the same day we had married, due to the photographers. Four hours of photographs? Please? Too much! At least she got her money’s worth, but it had become a photography session with a marriage attached before it was over.
But after an exhaustive search of the car, we never found the champagne cork. It had flown out the window, through a two inch crack, when the champagne had been agitated by my quick exit from the general store. The champagne had warmed to Gulf Coast “hot as blue blazes” and then the agitation set it off. The plastic cork missed my head by no more than an inch or two, or I might have ended up in the local emergency room, getting stitches the day after my wedding. We have stopped at that exit many times since then. The general store has long been gone, but we have not had champagne in the car ever since then.
The only other incident while driving was on the return from the honeymoon. I pulled into a Texaco station in Alabama, a backwoods place nowhere near a large town, much less city, I think near the Florida border. I got out and started to clean the trash from the car. The proprietor told me that I was not allowed to put trash in his trash cans. The trash collector had missed a week and he did not want the cans to be filled. I explained that I worked for Texaco, a subsidiary that is, and that was not a nice way to treat a fellow employee. Besides, the trash cans hardly had anything in them. He was adamant. So, I drove across the street. We bought snacks. I filled up with gas. And then I honked the horn until the Texaco proprietor looked at me, and I dropped our trash in his competitor’s trash can. My wife said years later that she knew that I was a bit different, but the trash war during our honeymoon would stay with her for the rest of her life. When she mentioned it, I had already forgotten about it, but my wife was like Mary, the mother of Jesus, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19).
But that Saturday afternoon, late, we went to my aunt’s home in Cocoa, FL to visit. The next morning, we arrived at the Contemporary Hotel.
We had free entry into the Magic Kingdom, so we went there that afternoon and one other day. This was when they had the ticket system. The attractions were rated A to E with the Haunted Mansion and the Jungle Cruise being among the E attractions. Those E tickets cost more, but you can only spin on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups so many times.
One afternoon I took her to Discovery Island, which is now closed. There were a variety of animals on the island, sort of a mini-zoo. But of all the animals that we saw, the most ferocious was a gander. I suppose the gander was protecting his nest, but my wife had a pair of bright colored pants that day, either bright orange or hot pink. The gander honked at us. The gander swam toward us. And then started biting my wife’s pants, not her, just the hem of her pants. She got scared and ran to the docks where people were lining up to leave the island. She said that she was disappointed in me. I did not protect her from the beast. Really, I was laughing too hard. She was in no real danger, although danger is an anagram for gander. Besides, when she ran far enough away, the gander had done his job in chasing off the evil of the bright colored pants. That gave me a chance to step between the two, and the gander had no interest in me or my pants. One of the animal handlers, after apologizing for the foul-tempered fowl, said that this goose only went after bright colors.
Another night went a lot better. We went to the Polynesian Hotel for a luau. It was not Indonesia, but it reminded her in a few ways of when she grew up there and the food was from all over the Pacific.
And the only other thing I distinctly remember is the fireworks. Ummm. Not what you may be thinking, a real fireworks show and the floating barges with the magical light show.
In summary, we thought some rednecks were against a mixed marriage, but it was only a bottle of warm champagne. We thought a gander had romantic intentions on my bride, but it was just protecting a nest. And I had a trash war in Alabama. Most honeymoons do not have such adventures.
And what is next?
My wife quits her job to focus more on her studies, and we bring our first son into the world. All before I get my graduate school diploma and orders to report to the Army, all on the same day.
But before that, we went on a second honeymoon that ended with my first time going to the Texas Folklife Festival. I have written about it before, but I would like to take a second look at our trip of a lifetime. Odd, how you never know it at the time.
And to all this, I give praise and honor to God. Only He knew that the two of us would one day marry each other, and it would truly be until death did we part.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory
A lovely remembrance Mark
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I love your stories about your wife.
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