Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Wedding Anniversary

Mountain Laurel on the bank
"If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May with voluptuary sweetness."

This Sunday the Colonel and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Yes, it was 1969;
he had just finished the US Army rotary wing flight school a few weeks before. We had been engaged for 5 months, and there was really no one to plan a wedding for us but ourselves. So, we did. Well, he did. He suggested the church camp he had attended in northwest Alabama. I wore the white dress I had made for graduation, and my First Lieutenant wore his dress blues. Our two best friends stood with us, D.S. Pearson and his wife. The Rev. Epps and his wife did all the rest. This is the chapel where we married. It was open air at the time with no glass. Though it was a simple building, and the service was read exactly from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer,
late on a May afternoon, it was quite grand to us.

"You are here to kneel,

Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more

Than an order of words, the conscious occupation

Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying."

We felt just as these two may have felt because we also had reason to be fearful for our future. The four people there with us knew and did all in their power to make this our very special day.
Mrs. Epps picked a glorious bouquet of mountain laurel from the steep bank leading down to Clear Creek behind the chapel. I carried it as if it had cost thousands. We had really beautiful gold rings etched with roses enhanced with black carbonising to make the images stand out. Our best man and maid of honor wore their Sunday clothes and their love for us.

Epps Hall as it is called today served as a reception hall where Mrs. Epps served us pound cake and Coca Cola. After we helped her put things away, we changed clothes, and went canoeing on Clear Creek for about an hour. Then we drove back to the city. We weren't too keen on a honeymoon because we mostly wanted to be with family.

So we said goodbye to what would become a very important and even sacred place in our lives.

Both our sons attended church camp here.

On Tuesday the 27th, I graduated from high school. My mother and ailing father, and my husband were in the audience. I am ashamed to admit that I cannot remember if either older sister was there. Afterward, I remember turning in my gown folded neatly in a box, and having a big cry as I said goodbye to classmates - many of whom I had known since the first grade.
We spent the rest of the week staying alternately at our parents' homes.

On the following Saturday, June 1st, our two best friends, my husband's mother and father, my husband and I, drove together to the airport. I vowed I would be brave and not embarrass my soldier. I was ... briefly ... until that plane took off to the other side of the world. I am forever grateful to the four people who peeled me away from the huge window looking on to the runway and upheld me through the longest year


excerpts from T. S. Eliot's THE FOUR QUARTETS: Little Gidding


Hollace said...

Wow! What a story. Congratulations on your anniversary!

willow said...

What wonderful memories. Congratulations to you and the Colonel!!! :D

Michael said...

My very best wishes to The Colonel and his Lady. The mixing of your personal lives, world events, the 'then and now', throughout this story make a fascinating and heart warming read Marnie. Thank you.

ps I cant find any mention of a response from Dame J...but I'm sure there was one, probably 'the look'

FireLight said...

Hollace, thank you. I promised my sons I would write all this mushy stuff down for them someday. I have done some journals and some poems...but I like having this blog with friends who give an honest response.

Willow, thank you for leading the way to a place where I can share them.

Michael, we promised ourselves we might have a big military wedding when he returned, but when he did, we took the "practical road" which could easily have been less traveled for a romantic like me: His wedding gift to me was my college education. I began classes that summer while he was in the war. My gift to him was my heart.

Derrick said...

Happy anniversary to you both! You have told the story beautifully. Pound cake and coca cola, huh?! A veritable banquet - and then canoeing! It certainly made a memorable day.

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

What a lovely, lovely entry. Happy Anniversary to you two.

Thank you for sharing your sweet story, with us.

Aunt Amelia

FireLight said...

Derrick, yes...that was it...pound cake and Coca Cola! Mrs. Epps was a dear...she just wanted to do something. It was not quite time for summer camp, so there wasn't much in the camp kitchen. We did have a really nice dinner when we returned to Birmingham that evening.

FireLight said...

Aunt Amelia, I am glad you stopped by. Thank you! I am actually writing a letter to my husband for Sunday --- inspired by your blog!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

How Wonderful! Congratulations on a Very Happy Wedding Anniversary; a delightful milestone in your lives. I am SO happy for you both; a strong and loving marriage is a gift to the world.

Lyn said...

What a beautiful, lyrical memory, wonderfully told... Congratulations!!

Maggie May said...

what a beautiful nostalgic post. Happy Anniversary!

Jacqueline said...

This brought tears to my eyes. A big affair wasn't needed to make this day beautiful.

Congratulations...and thank you so much for sharing this, Firelight...

FireLight said...

Thistle, Lyn, Maggie May, and Jacqueline, my thanks to you for stopping by here and especially for your kind words and good wishes. It seems, even to me that my blog is a place where I can get pretty sappy and no one seems to mind too much. I think it is a case of having held on to each of my little stories so long, that they seem to burst forth with a great deal of pent up emotions! Stay tuned!

Tom Atkins said...

A very touching bit of sharing. Deeply felt. Movingly written. Thank you.

Jacqueline said...

My pleasure stopping by Firelight. Its your blog-- you get sappy if you want to. (sounds like a song, doesnt it? lol)

I appreciate your down to earth style of blog--its quite refreshing.

Happy Wednesday to you!

Cait O'Connor said...

Happy Anniversary. What a gorgeous little chapel, I loved all the photos. Lovely blog.

Country Girl said...

What a heartfelt post. I was so taken with the simplicity of your wedding and the fact that you even went canoeing afterwards!
Happy Anniversary to you and your dear Colonel.

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat