Today (Wednesday) I am celebrating my wedding anniversary.
Tim, too, I suppose, although it might be said that it is more of a funeral anniversary for him, I suppose.
I was lying in bed this morning, thinking back to the wedding day. There are a few things I remember about it. I have a rather selective memory, so other than what I have photographs of, I generally don’t recall many happenings. My husband and kids will tell you that I forget entire events and trips if I don’t have photographs of them.
I do have pictures from the wedding, however, so I know it took place. And I have those few memories. One clear memory is standing in the narthex of the church, waiting for the ceremony to begin and wondering what, exactly, I was doing. I had made three promises to myself earlier in my life and I was about to break all three.
Promise #1: I would not get married until I was at least 23. Hmmm. Here I was, beautifully bedecked in my mother’s bridal gown, a tea-length dress with a hoop skirt, that she’d purchased at a second hand store back in 1955 for $25. I had a new veil and a pretty bouquet and was all of 19 years old. A full four years short of my promise. Maybe I should run.
Promise #2: I would not marry anyone from the local area. Oh boy. Tim lived a mere nine miles from my home. I would guess that definitely qualified as local. So local that I had spent the previous summer biking to and from his house on a regular basis. Definitely breaking promise number two. Might be time to sprint.
Promise #3: I would not marry a farmer. Absolutely not. I don’t know exactly what made me not want to marry a farmer, but for some reason I had made this promise to myself. As it turned out, not only was Tim a farmer, he was also a dairy farmer, probably the worst kind of farmer. Married to his cows 24/7. Little did I know. In fact, if I had known that at the time, I probably would have run. Full speed.
So, all three of those promises about to be broken, I stood there, waiting for the ceremony to begin. “Our song” began to play. A beautiful piece that Tim and I still love to this day. It began with the bells of an abbey chiming and then the lyrics, “Come, worship the Lord” which set the tone for what we wanted for our wedding mass, a celebration of worship and the sacrament of matrimony. I distinctly remember being yelled at, in shushed tones, to tell someone to end that song, it was too long and was delaying the start of the ceremony and people were getting antsy. I ignored those remarks and concentrated on the music.
The next thing I remember is Fr. Hugh pulling the wrong string on the pillow which held the rings (yes, we actually tied the real rings on the pillow the ring bearer carried up) and knotting them on and then being unable to get the knot undone. Tim, because he is a farmer, had a nail clippers in his pocket and was able to cut the string. Father said the marriage was sure to last, based on the strength of that knot. The congregation laughed.
My last memory of our wedding is of the one night stand honeymoon. After the dance at the American Legion, we made it as far as Appleton, MN and checked into a little motel and collapsed for the night. The next morning, a Sunday, we got up early and went to Mass. Then we went back to the motel and slept. Yes, slept. We were exhausted. We were awaken the second time by a phone call at 11:00. Management. “Our checkout is 11:00. If you don’t want to pay for another night, you need to leave. We’ll give you 20 minutes to get out or we’ll charge you for another night.”
Heaven forbid that we would splurge and pay for a second night (it was a one night stand, after all) so we quickly gathered our things and left. We spend the next couple of hours driving around the country side and ended up at Tim’s sister’s house in Milbank where we hung out until it was time for us to go home so that Tim could, yes, you guessed it, milk cows.
And that was the beginning of 37 years of marriage. I’d say they’ve been pretty decent. Some of them, anyway. And, giving credit where credit is due, my fourth promise, “’Til death do us part” I’ve taken much more seriously.