Could I have this dance?
When I woke up twenty years ago, it was to a congratulatory call from my Aunt Nernie. What she couldn’t see was an episode of four in the bed and the little one said, “Roll over.” As myself and three bridesmaids, all rolled in unison for the phone to be passed down the line to eventually reach me. The night before had been filled with rehearsals (with one absent-for-a-moment dad due to an emergency room visit), my father-in-law charming my mother, a semi-truck full of potato chips (long story), a personal shower, and much later learning to line dance in a friend’s house. All in all: a pretty eventful evening.
After rolling out of bed, I discovered there was actually snow on the ground. Thankfully, I earlier changed my mind on the outdoor wedding my heart was set on. I drove by the church to see sweet little men and women from the church were there early cleaning snow off the carpeted steps with a wet/dry vac.
The next few hours were a blur as I remember very little until . . . the moment I almost didn’t get married. I was to meet the cake decorator (our original baker backed out on us at the last minute) at the hall for payment and set-up. When she opened the box upon the hallowed spot, my jaw dropped. It was quite possibly the ugliest pile of sugar confectionary I had ever laid eyes on. I complained and got a pat answer of, “When you use fruit, it bleeds. You should know that.” Needless to say, I didn’t know THAT, and didn’t want THAT cake. I proceeded to my parents house (where earlier in the week they had hosted a movie night for all of the girls in the wedding party featuring Father of the Bride and where many of our relatives had travelled to stay.) The house was full of people having sandwiches with tomatoes sliced so thin by my Aunt Patty that you would have thought we were hosting a Ginzu commercial (not a wedding) while my Nanny was busy embellishing with flourish pew bows. I came into the house of crazy and plopped on the floor, tears streaming down, announcing, “I cannot get married today.”
My parents were concerned but kept going with preparations. My Grandaddy who always hated to see me cry was comforting me saying, “Oh Baby, please don’t cry. You will make your pretty eyes swell.” But the man who saved the day was my Uncle Rendell who asked my mother if she had a BIG knife. The whole room stopped as my perplexed mother obligingly got him said knife. He then said, “C’mon girl. We are having a wedding today. I came all this way from Georgia (to North Dakota).” I protested that my honor had been defiled by the ugliness of that cake, and I wasn’t getting married with that thing present. “That’s what this here knife is for. We are going to go cut that ol’ ugly cake up and no one will ever see it.” I have always loved my uncle, but never had I loved him more than at that one moment. He made me laugh – the day was saved.
I later learned that at the same time I was having my moment my husband-to-be was pacing back and forth so badly his family thought he would wear out his rental shoes.
Again another big whirlwind of blur – getting my hair, nails, and makeup done, getting pictures before the service, and then it was time for the day I had dreamt about since I was a little girl. My brother and I sang before the processional, and I remember one lady (a date of my husband’s college roommate) complaining that the church was too full as she entered the balcony. I politely told her once I was done singing she could have my spot because I had a date with that gorgeous young man down front. (We never invited her to anything again because we love full!)
Then came the poetic notes of Canon in D, and we proceeded forward. There were lots of special moments in the service too – looking out and seeing that people were actually standing outside (it did get warmer) watching, the room filled with loved ones from both our families, our nephew falling asleep before it was over, and many, many more. But my favorite service moment was when the sweet Catholic priest embraced my Baptist heritage by asking all in attendance to say a hearty “AMEN!” to each of the points of the final blessing. It was beautiful – two dichotomously different families blending into one. The harmonious reply illuminated how loved we were (and are) by all present.
As we entered the limo to take us to the hall, we leaned over to kiss only to discover that seated between us was my nine-year-old sister (who was my maid of honor). I will admit that almost fifteen years later I snuck into her limo to repay her the favor.
The dinner and dance were magical as two families blended together for one incredible party. I still remember memorable greetings from the reception line. The food was down home and simple which is just how I wanted it. Apparently, no one noticed or our guests too genteel to mention the cake. I danced with my husband to Anne Murray’s Could I have this dance?, and I melted into his arms as we swayed around the dance floor. Then I danced with my Dad, my Granddaddy, my Uncle Rendell, and my Uncle Buddy (who later paid an exorbitant amount to win my garter). Magical moments I will never forget as all five of those men are ones I have always adored.
Next to those dances, my favorite moment of the evening was being serenaded by a group of people led by my Uncle Buddy to the Louisiana written tune “You are my sunshine” which was fitting because he is from that great state. We finally obliged the crowd with a kiss when the word, “love” was sung. The entire evening was enchanting.
As wonderful as that evening was, nothing could have prepared us for hard work, trials, and joys that really describe our marriage. All of the time and energy that went into that wedding paled in comparison to the time we spent in preparation with God for our big day. In fact, it went back eighteen months prior when on our first date we talked about God and faith, eventually sharing what we hoped we would find someday for a marriage and later raising a family. We just didn’t know at the time the person who would be a part of that dream was the one seated across from the other.
Twenty years is almost half of my life. Not all of those years were good, but we persevered and stuck together. Our faith holding us together when at times we both felt like that cake. Thankfully, we always knew that God saw us as beautiful even when we couldn’t see it ourselves. Over the years that third cord has bound us together and held us up when we needed Him the most.
Twenty years: seven children, the best dog in the world, a few great cats over the years, (a turtle, lizard, newts, frogs, pigeons, and anything else I drug home and loved), more friends than we can count stars in the skies, some incredible memories, tears shed both in suffering and in laughter (the first of which being when the detachable train fell off my dress walking up and a little old lady chased me down to re-attach it), two college and two Master’s degrees, a house that is truly a home, amazing vacations, a shared passion of gardening, good food, and nature.
Twenty years: to finishing each other’s sentences, to thinking the same thing much of the time, a shared love of ridiculous humor, a combined joy of raising fantastic kids, a combined sorrow of saying goodbye too soon to four of them, and a best friend whom you cannot imagine life without.
So glad the dance continues with him . . . including homemade cards, family plays in the backyard, butterfly kisses, Blizzards for supper, snuggling in the bleachers, serving our God together, and all of life’s blessings.
Not a single day spent without prayer – thanking God for all of his blessings – especially each other.