November 28, 1969
Driving home from the church after 11:00 PM, Mom, Aunt Joyce, and I felt the satisfaction of successfully softening a hard moment. Peace had been restored, and we were able to laugh about our difference of opinion over, of all things, table skirts.
Nate’s many relatives had settled in at their hotel rooms, but the party had just begun at Mom and Dad’s. When we got there, Nate welcomed us at the door (with a giant hug for me), and we were glad to reconnect with Mary, Bervin, several aunts, all of our California relatives, a few of the bridesmaids, and of course Dad.
Mom didn’t even take her coat off before she was parading through the living room with a tray of 7-Up and cookies. “Let’s open some gifts!” she said, nodding toward a fresh pile of boxes under the piano. It was nearly midnight.
I glanced at Dad, a 70-year-old guy who was probably longing for his bed, but he helped himself to cookies and soda instead. Aunt Joyce dutifully picked up the gift-record book and a pen, ready to write it all down.
We opened gifts without looking at the time, and before we knew it, the clock chimed 3:00 AM. Someone shouted, “It’s November 29th – wedding day!” and Nate and I could hardly believe it was finally here!
Our late-night party came to an end then, and he departed for the Holiday Inn. Everyone else gratefully scattered toward their beds, and Mom caught my eye. “You’ll be on the basement couch, Baby Ann (her pet name for me since babyhood) – your last night as my little girl.” Though she sounded sentimental, my guess is she was thinking, “And that’s not all bad.”
I gave her a smile and with my much-loved cousins adjourned to our sleeping spots in the basement. Brother Tom was down there, too, having surrendered his bedroom to others.
Lying in the dark, my last thought was about wedding vows. Nate and I had told Pastor Sweeting we wanted to say them from memory rather than repeat after him. He had discouraged us from adding that extra pressure, but how hard could it be? “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer.”
I’d been carrying around a card with the words on it for more than a month, always intending to learn it, and now time was up. Turning on the light and reading it over a couple of times, I hoped that if those were the last words in my brain as I drifted to sleep, they’d be memorized by morning.
In what seemed like just a few minutes, Mom was hollering down the stairs. “Everybody up! Breakfast is ready!” I wondered if she’d slept at all and hoped she could make it through the hectic day ahead.
Since I’d mimeographed the day’s schedule for each participant, we all knew where we should be, when. Our first official report-time was 3:00 PM at the church, ready for pictures by 4:00. So we ate breakfast leisurely, as if we had nothing else on the agenda.
I knew Nate had his own to-do list (picking up white gloves for the groomsmen, confirming honeymoon stuff, paying the preacher, spending time with his relatives), and I didn’t expect to see him till we were outfitted in our finery. We’d decided to take the group wedding pictures before the ceremony, so wedding guests wouldn’t have to wait too long for the reception to start.
It was then that I’d get to be with my groom… 4 o’clock… and I could hardly wait!
“[Lord], keep steady my steps according to your promise.” (Psalm 119:133)