Here is the poem I left on the bathroom counter for my beloved this morning:
roses are red
violets are blue
it is August 6th
what does that
mean to you?
I was outside feeding the ravenous doggies and sorta peeking through the window as he waltzed into the utility bathroom to deposit yesterday’s dirty laundry. Would he notice the red construction paper note I propped up right in plain sight? Uh, no. Walked right on by. Figures. Oh wait, he backtracked and looked at it. Folks, he read it. And then…he checked the date on his watch! What a man. And he is all mine.
He came outside, grabbed me in a big bear hug (yes, my head stuck in his armpit) and merrily said, “Happy Anniversary Honey!”
“I cannot believe you forgot.”
“Oh yes you can.”
Well, he had me there. Right in his armpit, right in his heart, and right in my mind.
Sixteen years ago this day, after sleeping on the living room floor (cuz I gave my bed to an out-of-state friend), I gathered at the lake (at a resort called “Beyond Hope”) with the fellas of the wedding party, and our parents, as we set-up for the impending matrimonial shin-dig.
We were country before country was cool–oh hey, someone oughta sing a song about that. Oh, someone already did. Thanks Barbara Mandrell.
Okay, we were country before country was cool. Yes, that was us. How else can we explain that some of our wedding party wore clothes bought at a feed store? And I bought the first dress I saw because it matched my white boots? And I made the bouquets and boutonnieres and centerpieces of dried flowers and paper ribbons. And we had BBQ for our dinner. And we had to chase the deer away from the hay-bales all day. And we had dancing. And swimming, if you, the groom, suffered heat stroke and the bride’s fellow collegiate athletic trainers gently set you in the lake to cool down.
Anyway back to the set-up, we huffed and puffed and arranged tables. We laughed and smiled a lot and sweated even more. Then we ate donuts before running to our designated areas to change into our wedding attire.
I slipped my dress overhead, tugged it into place, clicked my cowboy booted heals together and applied a bit of lipstick and a lot of deodorant. It was a hot day. Then I even let someone curl my hair with a curling iron (gasp!) before my mamma placed my cowboy hat atop my head. When I was done being preened over, I found a window perch and spied on the boys as they came outta the camp trailer in their cowboy duds. When I saw my hubby-to-be, I gasped aloud and went to knock on the window. One of my girls grabbed my hand and pulled me back. Shaking her head and rolling her eyes while muttering, “He cannot see you yet.”
She enticed me to the couch with a jelly-filled donut and a large bath towel. So, after tucking the borrowed towel into the chesty part of my dress, I sat in an un-girly manner and stuffed my face. Hey, my blood sugar was low and I need to eat! I ate and licked my lips and watched the other girls ready themselves with all manner of fluff and make-up.
After everyone was ready, our photographer (my mom’s boss at the time), led me to where my man was waiting and I walked across the lawn and met him on the beach. Can mere words explain the near-bursting love and joy? No. So I won’t try.
After the photo session and once cars started to pull into the resort (okay, it was actually a rustic campground next to a bar on the beach), we skedaddled into the bar-owners cabin and bid our time, with more donuts of course. Then the music started. The guys walked the guests down the aisle, oftentimes the guests didn’t know which side to sit on. We’d been together for five years and in a small town everyone is friends with everyone. Then the family was seated. And when it was my turn for the aisle, my mamma walked me down. (I should find a photo of that.) Previously,when I asked her to do it, she said “No, I am not your father.” To which I told her, “No, you have been both my mother and my father ever since I can remember.”
“But women don’t walk daughters down the aisle.”
“Well, in our family they do.”
After all the regular wedding hoopla that comes with getting married on the beach, beneath an alter covered in silk flowers, with hay-bales stacked on either side, and boaters honking by as they saw an opportunity for brief obnoxious fame, we were wed.
Man and wife.
When we married we did not know the Lord. But somehow He was in our midst, keeping us together and leading us to Him. Our invitations said something about joining us as “we join hands and hearts in marriage,” but now we both know that hands and hearts cannot be joined without souls being knit together with strings of God’s salvation and His enduring love.
In that photograph we are dancing to our song. We had been high school sweethearts and we had a huge disagreement and split up while in college. But being stubborn, we kept after it, our love, that is. And one day we set aside our pride and started to talk. We realized in an instant that we both had made erroneous assumptions (and we all know what “assume” really means) and our split was ridiculous at best. It was all an ugly misunderstanding. We were fine. And dandy! Then I heard this song and I knew it was ours. So, in that photo, we are two-stepping around the deck, with the mountains behind us and the lake in front of us, and God’s love leading us straight to Him. (Listen to it. If you watch it, watch it to the end.)
Oh, when you come tonight baby, we are dancing around the kitchen and living room to that song. You are my meet-in-the-middle guy and I didn’t know I could love you one drop more than I did 16 years ago…but I do.
I still do.
His mouth is most sweet,
Yes, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved,
And this is my friend
~ Song of Solomon 5:16 (NKJV)
Oh yes, you are now privy to seeing my face. There I am. And in color. Whoohoo and Yeehaw, people. It is my gift to you on this day of celebration. Aren’t you one lucky duck? Or perhaps you are a squawkin’ chicken?!
Last year on our anniversary, my husband was 5 hours away because he had already moved for his relocation. So, while he was at some cafe listening to a couple of co-workers play guitars, I stood in the dirt road next to our Oregon house, talking to the old-timer who was logging the neighbor’s property, until my son scraped all the skin off his elbows, knees, nose, and chin in an unfortunate tumble down the gravel road. I spent the rest of the night digging out small rocks and making my son cry. Earlier that week my husband had asked what I wanted for a gift. I told him, “I don’t want a gift. Why a gift? All I want is you. All I want is our family to be together.” So, although some women may bawl like a calf that lost his mamma’s teat when their husbands forget their anniversary, not me. I am just glad we are together, with God in our middle.
That is the only gift I need.