|Common License photo|
On Saturday, July 16, one of the most eventful weeks of my married life began at home, at 5 a.m. I could not dream how truly right the day would be. It began with five a.m. excitement about an upcoming three hour drive to the Lewes, DE-to-Cape May, NJ Ferry, and hit a big bump about halfway.
"You turned the blanket off, didn't you?" my husband asked. (Please don't ask why I had the blanket on in July.)
"No, I don't think I did."
"You're kidding, right?"
Screech, u-turn, and over an hour's fast return to home, with a call to the Lewes-Cape May Ferry office as we sped back."We can fit you in on the 2:30 ferry."
"Will it reach Cape May before 4:30?"
A quick call to daughters to reassure that we would probably be almost in time to change clothes quickly at address we already had set up for GPS directions. They'd asked us to be dressed and ready to go somewhere by 4:30.
At five that afternoon—12 hours after getting up, starting out, U-turning, saving our home from electric blanket fire, and crossing the bay on a later-than-ticketed ferry—we arrived with daughters, son-in-law, and three grandsons for the Saturday afternoon worship service at St. Peter's By-the-Sea in Cape May Point.
It was our 50th wedding anniversary, to the day. At five o'clock on a Sunday afternoon, July 16, 1961, my fiancé Jim and I were being married in Durham, NC's First Baptist Church.
How fitting, I thought, listening to the scriptures and singing, that Jim and I would be in this little church on the same date and hour 50 years later .
|In background: St. Peter's By-the-Sea|
What goodness we had tasted that day, in spite of a turnaround to save home from burning down. (Electric blanket fires are responsible for many emergencies, though I suspect rarelyl in July in Maryland!)
Yet more goodness was soon to come. We were talking with the evening service leaders when the boys returned from their camera errand. "We were married 50 years ago, at about this same hour...," I commented.
"Mimi?" I heard our youngest grandson, and saw him standing close to us. He was back inside the church (with camera, I thought). "Would you like to do it again, Mimi?," he asked me.
I smiled at him, nodded "yes," at first thinking he was kidding; soon I saw something else in the expression on his face. And then he extended one hand from behind his back. He held out a wedding bouquet of perfect white roses, barely pushing out from the buds. Then came a single white-rose groom's boutonniere.
Plans in the works for months continued to unfold. A wedding was about to take place, and Jim and I would exchange vows again, with our children and other family standing up front with us, on either side. Our oldest grandson accompanied me to my husband's side up front.
The schedule was not finished when we left the church about an hour later after vows and visiting with those who had been a part of the secret. We rushed to the beach for photographs to be taken by a professional photographer.
After that, we rushed to a gorgeous, large, Victorian vintage restaurant and sat on a wide front porch, where servers brought out champagne, juice, and sodas--and our older daughter's toast in honor of the day and its meaning caused tears to well up. But, not for long, because excitement of a big meal followed, after we were led to a long table prepared for us in a special glassed-in porch dining room. Music by the pianist at a formal grand piano in the entrance way wafted toward us. These memories I can only outline. Their details sparkle and blend in memory now. Like all treasures, these experiences live most fully in, between, and among us who were there.
When I blogged about tasting the goodness the day before these events, the excitement about a special family week to begin the next day was a bit on hold, due to writing and packing. I looked forward, however, to arriving at a large, rented beach house. My husband and I knew something special was in the works and thought probably a very special dinner out for the nine of us. Daughters had told us to "dress for celebration."
However, Jim and I could not envision what the day would hold of wedding, sand dune photographs together and with family, the restaurant veranda toasts, and a fabulous dinner inside.
We owe to God in heaven all the strength, help, love, and goodness that our family, beginning with us two, has known and continues to know. Otherwise, we are like every other family. With God's help, we are uniquely who He has made us to be, become, and yet grow into...His people sharing His goodness.
We taste the goodness! We love the goodness! We share it, relish and revel in it! We grow within it! We build and reach out from it! Tides of life will bring more change of calm and storm. We need not fear this ocean of life. We know that Almighty God ultimately works it all together, for good. Faith has allowed this and by faith it will carry us through.
We tasted the holy wedding words. We repeated and exchanged from first to the last of our 50th Wedding Anniversary vows..."'til death parts us." I remember the look in my husband's eyes during our second wedding service, even dearer and more understandable than the first. By faith in Christ, I know that even death, the enemy that He defeated, shall not deter the lives of those who continue with Him.
A closing memory: We turned at the joyously loud sounds of the church bell, as the wedding service ended. A slender woman was smiling broadly as she pulled again and again on the long rope that moved the bell. She stood at the open entrance to the church, and every pull and release sent another loud ringing sound from the church's steeple. Everyone at the beach must have heard it along with us!