Friday, June 06, 2008
Thirty-eight years ago today
Thirty-eight years ago this morning I got up early and the first thing on my mind was, "I can't wait until all this hoopla is over so Tom and I can be alone." Of course, it was a "bad hair" day. I had decided to fix it myself to save money because we didn't have any, and I usually did a good job. But, of course, not today. Besides, I've always hated the obsession with "getting your hair done." As it turns out, it didn't matter. It never does; it's all in our minds, the catastrophizing, that is. I walked over to the church and my girlfriends were there. My Mom and my youngest sister were there. My other sister was 9 months pregnant with her second child and couldn't make the trip. Everyone was laughing and being "girls." Except me. I just wanted it all to be over so I could get some peace and quiet. I have never liked crowds no matter how happy the occasion. I got into my dress, brushed out my hair and waited for the flowers. They didn't come. And didn't come. I finally, in my own inimitable way, called them and told them to get those flowers down here right now, after all, they had had several months' notice of the time and place! The flowers came. I'm usually a "go with the flow" type of person, rather quiet, but when push comes to shove, I can be a real B**ch. People are usually surprised; surprised at the difference in their perception of me, and surprised at how fast things can get done. Suddenly I was at the church doors with Tom and standing in front of the priest. We all processed down the aisle (since my Dad had refused to "give me away" or even attend) as the organist played Bach's Wedding Cantata. The church was full; people were even standing up along the walls. I didn't know any of them and wondered who on earth all these people were. There must have been 200 people there. I think Tom's Mom had invited the whole town. My parents sat in the usual pew. Mom cried and Dad made ugly, disapproving faces. My Dad had promised not to come, but I knew he would. I remember praying in front of the "Mary statue" for help to be a good wife. Finally, it was over and we were in the hall fake-smiling and wishing we could get in the car and zoom away. My Mom asked me if we were "really married" since the priest had never "pronounced" us man and wife. Pictures were snapped, congratulations all around, and at last we are in the car and rolling away from all that controlled chaos! Ah, what a wonderful ride that was! Through the Kentucky Bluegrass region, past beautiful horse farms, up to the historical town of Bardstown. We stayed at the Old Talbot Inn where Louis Phillipe, a once-French king, had stayed for a while at the invitation of the local Catholic Bishop. (The RC Cathedral was in Bardstown then before it was moved to Louisville.) The room where he stayed had been roped off, and the pictures his court painter, whom he brought with him, had painted on the walls were still there, along with some bullet holes from some rambunctious guests. We had ham with raisin sauce for our dinner. It was a quiet dining room, and people kept looking at us. I was embarrassed, but proud, too. I made sure everyone could see my newly-adorned left hand. We got up the next morning tired and hungry for a cup of coffee. It was Sunday morning, and the whole town was closed down. We walked all over the place, and everything was closed. We walked up to "My Old Kentucky Home," but it was closed, too, so we just walked over the grounds a bit and peeked through the windows. We were aghast that the town was locked up, so we just checked out of our hotel (Tom had to be at work that evening--he had a second shift job.) and drove the 45 minutes or so to Gethsemane Abbey (aside: my grandfather had once worked on the grounds as a gardener) for Sunday morning Mass, then home to our own little second story apartment. Tom's Dad had taken all our things over there and set up everything for us, so all we had to do was walk in. How very nice of him. It was a furnished apartment and I really loved it. The sun shown through the ruffled curtains in the kitchen and made it so merry. We had a huge (actually shared with the tenants downstairs) fenced backyard with trees and shade. Tom planted a small garden in a corner of that yard, so we had some fresh vegetables that summer, and I learned to bake bread. I read Tolkein's _Lord of the Ring_ for the first time all the way through that summer. So began my married life.