Aug 202012

For years I’ve bugged my husband for us to go to Vegas and be remarried by an Elvis impersonator. He always says, “We’re already married, and you just want to play the slots.” He’s mostly correct. However, I think a longterm marriage full of “in sickness and in health” and all that jazz deserves encouragement, and should be celebrated. We’ve made it 54 years, 27 for him and 27 for me.

And they said it wouldn’t last a week!

When looking for pictures for my mom’s funeral visitation, I found an audio tape of our wedding ceremony.

Most other bridal parties had someone hoist a 30-lb. Betacam on weary shoulders for the festivities, but we did not. We had one measly little tape, which we promptly lost.

The cassette showed up nearly 28 years later in a cardboard box of family treasures.

Tonight, while My Dearly Beloved indulged in March Madness, I listened to the tape.

Parts of the tape made me laugh hysterically and parts of it made me cry. Hearing the voices and the music unearthed long-buried snippets of memory.

After the prelude, a friend rang the church bells 21 times. The same bells pealed from this rural Indiana church when my parents married there in 1955.

No one knew official “wedding bell-ringing protocol,” so 21 times the bells rang out, reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Bells.” “Hear the mellow wedding bells—Golden bells! What a world of happiness their harmony foretells.”

The part that made me laugh uproariously was the pastor’s homily. The German Lutheran pastor— near the end of his career and in his late seventies— was a dear, sweet man with a heart as big as the sky.

He was, however, a little odd. While waiting in the parsonage kitchen, the males in the wedding party discovered that Pastor liked to jump on a mini-trampoline. As my husband and his entourage waited in the anteroom behind the sanctuary, Pastor asked my groom for a pen. Pastor had written notes for his homily and forgotten them, only to scribble a few words on a scrap of paper.

Listening to his homily again brought it all back. He spoke from Genesis, about Adam and Eve in the garden.

Now I have certain proof to corroborate the memory that he did wax poetically about Adam and Eve being naked in the garden and loving the animals. It is wildly inappropriate to laugh during your own wedding, but I was not the only guilty party.

The entire wedding party apparently shared the same level of maturity when it came to the frolicking antics of Adam and Eve and the animals.

The part that made me cry was hearing my groom recite his vows. His voice resonates with confidence and strength, while mine is faint and even timid. Yep, I heard him make all those lovely promises again, in traditional Protestant fashion.

After the vows, a violinist played “Sabbath Prayer” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” The contours of melody floated out into the ether on that warm October afternoon, resting on golden, newly harvested fields.

I had forgotten that the violinist also played “Joyful, Joyful,” simple and haunting on her solo strings. On that lovely day, could I have imagined that nearly thirty years later my mother would be laid to rest to that same hymn in the 180-year-old cemetery across the road?

Often our connectedness as human beings touches us in the smallest details of life.

After the violin solo, we asked two friends to give readings that we chose for each other. I adored the “Love Story” wedding scene, so my friend read from the Sonnets from the Portuguese 22: “When our Two Souls” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

My Dearly Beloved chose “Kathy’s Song” by Simon and Garfunkel. I insisted we change the song’s name in the wedding program because his previous girlfriend (the one his mother referred to as the “Thin One”) was named Kathy.

I pulled out a line from the song for a new, madeup name.

After the readings and the traditional Protestant blessing with lots of “thees,” we were kissed (you can hear it on the tape) and the pastor introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. to wild applause.

And we lived happily ever after.


Published March 2012 in the “Good Morning” column of the Evansville Courier and Press.

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