I'm writing about our wedding because Ron and I are snapping at each other, and I'm reminding myself of how much I love him. He's just getting over his umpteenth MRSA infection after a month of strong medication that weekens his muscles and makes him queasy. And I'm pooped and cranky.
So, I'm thinking back. . .
August, 1968 in Huntington Park, California - a suburb of Los Angeles. My parents lived in a cute two-bedroom apartment over a garage, and they'd invited family from Massachusetts to stay with us until the wedding. Four of my five sisters came, one with her husband, one with her 10-year-old son, and one of my brothers joined us. The place was wall-to-wall cots and sleeping bags. Anyone who got up at night to go to the bathroom took a flashlight to avoid stepping on anyone.
I had bought ten boxes of tissues and we spent the two days before my wedding (Aug. 10) creating those flowers you make by accordion pleating the tissue, tying it tightly in the middle, then fluffing it out to make it look like a carnation. Lorraine, who was still in the convent at the time, teaching school and knowledgeable about art projects, put lipstick on the tips to add color. My father came through while we were working and said we looked like an art class in some emotional rehab place. We strung the flowers on long string and tied them to the front and rear bumpers of the cars involved in the wedding. Do people still do that?
My sister Theresa was my maid of honor (she's now 82 and teaching water aerobics in Naples, Florida), two of my good friends from high school were bridesmaids, and Ron's nieces, 13 and 14, were junior bridesmaids. Theresa and the nieces wore yellow, my bridesmaids wore green, and they all carried daisies in little baskets with ivy trailing. They were so beautiful.
Women often say they were so nervous or stressed and don't really remember their wedding days, but I was surrounded by all that love, absolutely certain I was doing the right thing, and was therefore very present in the moment. I remember every word.
It was one of the hottest days of the year, and St. Matthias Church has no AC, just an oscillating fan behind the priest. Every time the fan came our way, it blew my veil into Ron's face. He'd fight his way out of it, have a moment of peace, then it would come again. He laughed, and I was ultra-absolutely sure I was doing the right thing.
My father was Portuguese with a beaky nose and looked a little like the Godfather. My mom was short and sort of 5x5, but looked spectacular in pink lace and a showy hat. We had the reception at a favorite restaurant and the host, who had always spoiled us, made it look as though a Rockefeller was getting married. We ate like royalty and had so much fun! (When I went with my dad to make the arrangements, the host asked him if he wanted to set a dollar limit on the champagne or just keep pouring. My father replied, "Just keep pouring." I tried to protest, but mine was the family's only wedding and he wanted it to be wonderful. Even with Ron and I helping, it took us four months to pay off the champagne bill!)
Ron and I spent the night at a hotel at the airport, broke out the little kitchen light in our room with the champagne cork, then destroyed the bathroom light in our hotel room in Hawaii with another champagne cork. (We'd taken the bottle into the bathroom to save the kitchen light. Obviously something wrong with our technique.) We walked all over Hilo, then Kona, then moved on to Oahu and had a ball there, too. Everyone says it's so commercial, but it's so different from what we knew, that it didn't matter.
Home again after ten days, we settled into a little apartment with a kitten my boss gave us as a wedding present. We had a ball there, too.
I look at those photos now, and, except for the fact that so many of those I love are gone, I can feel the bright joy of that day. And Ron's still here, usually being a source of happiness and laughter for me. Even under the crankiness of 'maturity' and illness, we are still that couple that looks so comfortable with each other, so right together. It's like the romance we write about - struggling to find itself, but once it does, it's invincible.
I guess I'll go make him a cup of coffee and make peace.