HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MY LOVE

“A church full of people stood silently by  and let me marry him,” I mutter under my breath, a dramatic eye roll directed at the full-fledged idiot I once thought to be the perfect man.

That was forty years ago today. I have no idea where the time has gone but I can still feel the butterflies racing around inside me as I waited to walk down that aisle. At the time, it was the second longest aisle in the city. I wasn’t nervous at all about the marriage part, only that this elaborate celebration would go smoothly.

I hoped my dress was OK, a dress I loved for its lack of gaudy adornment. A few simple patches of pearls decorated the cuffs and gathered an offset faux sash at my left side. A simple draped veil was held by a “Juliet cap” of pearls at the back of my head.

Mom helped me pick it out. I can still hear her reminding me that I wouldn’t want to look like a “Fru-Fru.”

I hoped Rob would like it.

The wedding procession began with Rob’s parents escorting him down the aisle, one on each arm. Just in case he tried to run!  LOL!

They were followed by our celebrant and two altar servers.

So far so good.

Then, everything came to an unplanned stop. “What in Heaven’s Holy Name (WTF was more likely what I thought, but this was church!)  could be causing the hold-up?” This was not covered in rehearsal!

Turns out our adorable three-year-old ring bearer froze like a deer in the headlights when a flash cube (remember those?) went off.

His mom had to escort him safely the rest of the way. Poor little guy probably couldn’t see anything other than that bright white square that was burned onto his retinas.

Cute? I suppose, in retrospect.

Crisis under control, we carry on.

My beautiful bridesmaids, each accompanied by a groomsman, marched past gathered family and friends, one after the other, in the “step-pause-step” fashion designed to slow their pace to the finish line, where they took their places.

Finally, it was my turn to walk, both parents beside me. Mom, holding my left arm, was as beautiful as ever in a pale pink gown. Dad, on my right, looked proud and handsome. I don’t think I’d ever seen him in a tuxedo before and it suited him perfectly.

Mom took her seat. Dad handed me over to my Mr. Perfect, who was dealing with his own set of nerves.

About half way through the Mass, it was time to get down to business. The marriage ritual.

We chose to write our own vows, similar to the “official” ones, but using our own words.

Our own words.

Words that I somehow managed to FORGET.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I heard myself say to my groom, “Oh shit!” as I fumbled for my written notes.  If there’s one thing he remembers about that day, this would be it.

I guess that was legal enough, as we were pronounced “Mr. and Mrs.” and sent off to our new life together.

But first, a party! Our families have always enjoyed a good party!

Food, music, dancing and people we loved! Of course, a well-stocked bar was open early for relatives who might not make church, but would certainly be at the reception!

A live band got everyone out on the dance floor, twisting, shouting, twirling to the polka and of course, doing the hokey pokey.

Do they still do the hokey pokey?

The reception closed down at 4:30 a.m. You read that right.

4:30 a.m.

Rob and I slept in till around 3 p.m. the next day, when his parents woke us with a knock on our door. They wanted to visit, but also wanted to know if we had opened our gifts yet. They wanted to confirm which side of the family was the cheap side.

I kid you not!

I apologize for rambling but I’m feeling sentimental. A day that seems like yesterday happened forty years ago. Forty years of better or worse. Forty years of richer or poorer.Forty years of sickness and health.

We’ve had our share of better and worse, though I believe the better far outweighs the worse.

We’ve loved and laughed, argued and made up. Usually he apologizes first…a very wise man.

Some things we’ve said in anger cut deeply, but we found forgiveness.

While we’re not rich by any stretch of the imagination, we’ve always managed to pay the bills and keep ourselves fed and sheltered.

When I say “we” I mostly mean “he.” This man has busted his butt every day to keep our heads above water, always putting himself last.

He is truly the most selfless person I know.

We’ve stayed strong together through sickness and health, again, health outweighing sickness.

Yeah, there was that cancer thing a few years ago, but somehow we survived that, our marriage intact.

As Indiana Jones was told by the knight in The Last Crusade, I “chose wisely.”

Rob was my rock. He gave so much of himself to help me through treatments and continues to support me in my moments of panic and depression.

He loved me through bald and tells me I’m beautiful, even without breasts.

Even with these lines growing ever more prominent on my face.

Even though my hair isn’t the same rich brown it was on our wedding day.

He doesn’t criticize or judge when I go into worry mode.

He gives great hugs.

I felt joy in his arms whirling around many a wedding dance floor, and comfort in the sad times.

I doubt that I’ll ever be able to repay him and I’m not sure I’d measure up if the time came that I had to.

We’ve raised two fine men, surviving girlfriends and guitars in middle school and garage bands in high school (Actually, I loved the garage bands!) and all the other stuff kids put you through.

We’ve been puked on, peed on, loved, hated and cursed at. Those mouths that begged to be washed out with soap sang us beautiful melodies at Christmas, cause that’s all we wanted.

Yes, both of our kids can sing. And both grandmothers credit their sides of the family for the musical talent gene.

We danced at our sons’ weddings, welcoming two sweet, loving young women into our family.  As a mom, I rejoice that my boys have found their perfect mates.

We have two beautiful grandsons, who make us laugh and bless us with hugs whenever we see them. Those little arms wrapping around my neck get me every time. We experience the world through their eyes and our hearts fill with love.

Forty years.

So when I roll my eyes and sarcastically curse that church full of people who stood silently by and let me marry him, I’m really whispering a prayer of thanks.

Sure, sometimes he acts like an idiot, but he’s MY idiot.

And I’m his pain in the ass.

Till death do us part.

Happy Anniversary, my love!

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