Sunday, June 26, 2016

Memories from Barb

On this, our 51st anniversary, it seems appropriate to print what my aunt Barb wrote to us on our 25th anniversary, about our wedding day:

When your mother and dad were celebrating their twenty fifth year of wedded bliss, they invited Unc and I to attend the festivities. Because of poor health, poor car and no gas, we had to send them our condolences by mail, along with a note of remembrances of their wedding day. Tho’ I’ve not gotten an invitation from you to attend this years festivities, or any other years festivities, I’m going to try and control my “hurt” and write a note of remembrances of the first day of the rest of your life’s wedded bliss.

Your wedding day is and always will be etched in my mind – and I’m sure the reason for that is, I am still, after all these many years, having nightmares about it.

Now, I know you’re thinking – “Why should dear old auntie be having nightmares about my wedding?” My answer to that: “Little does the bride and groom know what goes on at their own nuptials.” They are the stars and have no thought, or in fact care, as to the rest of the cast or what the audience thinks or does. I’m thinking of writing a pamphlet of do’s or don’ts on this subject – but here I digress.

Unc and I were very excited about being invited to your wedding. Those were very lean years for us and I knew I didn’t have the proper clothes to wear for such an elegant occasion. I did not want you or your mother to be ashamed of me – so trying to appear at my best I discussed the situation with my friends and neighbors. They all took pity on me and for the sake of my peace of mind they pooled their resources (their clothes) and sent me off to the city in style.

Your Uncle Bill was president of The World Sign Association in those years, so he had all the grand clothes because he had to look real spiffy and presidential at the meetings. Because I didn’t have anything to wear but rags, I had to stay at home with the babies. That has been my lot in life for fifty-one years, but I try not to complain and I don’t cry too much about it any more.

Since I was looking fairly sharp in my borrowed finery, the old boy was going to allow me to ride with him and stay overnight at the Claremont Hotel. I would go to the wedding while he attended the meetings.

By the time I got to the church most of the guests had already been seated; only your mother, (my sister) was in the outer room waiting to greet guests. As we came through the door, she looked me over, walked toward me and said “Good Morning!” I am the mother of the bride – may I direct you to your seat?

Well!!! You can imagine how I felt. I had neglected to take off my dark glasses when I entered the room so there was some excuse for her not recognizing me, but my God, I had slept with, eaten with, fought with, laughed with and loved this lady for a lifetime and now she did not even recognize me. I tell you, I was crushed! However, after she saw me minus the shades and in a better light, she came to her senses and shuffled me towards the door of the chapel and told one of the ushers to seat me.

Well!!! I found myself seated among a pack of strangers. I came to find out she had sent me to sit with Walt’s relatives. They all looked at me as though I had just arrived from the second rock to the sun.

Tho’ “being an out of the loop” Catholic, at that particular time, I had not forgotten how to kneel and pray at the proper command. Those darn ding-a-ling bells always did confuse me and I never quite understood if they were ringing to tell me that dinner was served, or if it was time to bring the cows’ home.

During part of the bell ringing, I looked over at the “West’s” side of the chapel and saw my brother Paul and his lovely wife Alma sitting almost in the front row. It was about this time when I began to feel like a neglected orphan. I had known Alma in earlier days and believe me, when I tell you, that her real hair was not connected to anything but air.

After I married my present husband (you know him) Alma decided that we were not longer to be catered to and from that day forth she never graced our presence again. (My, I really did digress there, didn’t I.)

Now, back to the story. You can, I hope, understand how I felt, here I was in a House of God and as the Bible says, “I was a stranger in a very strange land.” We all said our amen's and were dispersed to the outer gardens, where if I remember correctly we were to wait for the bread line. Not too far in the distance there were benches placed for the comfort of the guests. I took advantage of a seat far removed from the motley crowd so that I could think over the events that had happened so far that day. After all, strange things happen, and one must “Go with Flo” whomever she is.

There were quite a few vacant benches around me and it was not long before Paul and Alma joined we bench sitters. They had not seen me yet, so I whistled over to them (I can do that very well with just two fingers in mouth) and that loud sound really causes attention. Everyone else, near and far heard the whistle, but somehow my dear relatives were hard of hearing. Or perhaps, their minds were in Paramaribo and consequently did not even glance my way.

Being the nice person that I am, I joined them on their bench, and we talked for a minute or two before Alma excused herself and moved to another bench so that she could be more comfortable and cooler.

The bells rang for the chow line. I don’t remember if it was a sit down affair or a serve yourself buffet. I do remember sitting next to your grandmother Pearl for awhile. I really did like sitting with her, because I am the quiet, bashful sort, and I do much better on the listening end than trying to make people hear my low voice blatherings. Pearl was very gracious and instinctively knew I was not a real talker. She held up her end of the conversation, and mine too, for which I was thankful.

    I do believe my dear aunt was being sarcastic.  She is not shy and my grandmother never shut up.

Your grandmother had beautiful well-kept hands and her fingernails were always perfectly manicured at just the right length and color for the occasion. In her presence I always sat on my hands.

After the banquet and some “things” to drink, the guests made their speeches and the bride and groom were toasted, and everyone did all of those nice things they always do at weddings.

Would you care to know something weird about you on that day which I shall never forget? As the day progressed, when most brides are beginning to droop and fade, you defied tradition and became more beautiful with every hour. When I kissed you goodbye, you were absolutely gorgeous – even if you had taken your shoes off.

There it is, now you know!

Auntie Barb
June, 1997

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