Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 23, 1971


October 23, 1971- Pinellas Park, FL- 6 p.m.- She stood in the nursery/cry room in the back of the church building having an out of body experience. Her best friends, one since childhood and one since freshman year in college, flitted around her like bees dressing her with the precision of soldiers going to combat. Her sister-in-law of two months was already in her purple and Ivory bridesmaid dress and holding her veil like it was made of spun gold, waiting for the signal to raise it overhead and crown her with it. Her mother stood nearby and watched through tears that made her daughter seem to shimmer as if in a dream. It was ‘go time’-- the day of fulfilled dreams.

The young bride finally clothed in traditional white heard the harmonizing singers begin just outside the nursery door. Whispered voices had been passing the closed small room filled with baby beds and colorful mobiles for over thirty minutes. College boys, uncomfortable in tight cumber buns and rented cuff links, were on task escorting guests to either the left or right of the aisle. Her ladies-in-waiting giggled. Her mother kissed her on the cheek and gave her only the look of a mama who wanted to shout with joy and weep all at the same time could. Her daughter was marrying a good man. Her baby, however, was leaving her and changing their lives forever.

As the bridesmaids began their slow promenade toward the altar, the bride’s father stepped into view and placed her arm in his. His tears had dotted the chest of his starched white shirt. Never had she seen him this spiffed up. Gone were his khakis and steel-toed work boots. His thermos and black lunch box sat at home, replaced by a carnation pinned to his coat and shiny patent-leather shoes. A moment of panic when her contact lens slipped out of place on the stream of her own tears. Order restored. Dad saves the day one last time.

And then… there he is waiting at the end of an aisle she had been raised walking down, running down, and skipping down all of her life. But, this one last walk would take her to the end of the rainbow. He stood looking back at her as if she glimmered and had silver, wispy wings. She could tell it took all of his youthful patience to wait in place as she slowly came toward him. He wanted her. He’d won her. His love for her was an answered prayer.

She took his hand and in that moment, in the touching of fingers, warm palms, and wildly beating hearts, she gave herself, freely, openly and forever to the dark haired, southern, soft spoken man who would become her husband, the father of their sons, and the man who would keep the promises made that day for the next forty years.

Happy anniversary, Gary Marlin. Your bride still has no regrets.


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