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40 years!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

We were young but had no idea that we were young. None at all; in fact, I think we entertained the delusion that we were cosmopolitan sophisticates. Except that we had no money at all. I wanted to elope but he feared his parents would never forgive him. He came to my house 5 days early and for 5 days we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Nixon was president. Agnew was still the veep. And there were profound lessons to be learned which were, perhaps, much more important than festivity.

The morning of my wedding was a disaster. My mother had a boyfriend and his wife had sent letters to both her and to my father. She told my father about the affair and she begged my mother to stop with her husband. My father crumpled into a heap of depression and my mother became a maniacal Medusa filled with self-righteouness. It was too late to stop the wedding; the future in-laws were already in their cars driving up from New Jersey.

My mother had determined that there would be nobody but family there and my future in-laws were, I think, a bit sad that they could not invite their best friends. Nor could I invite any friends. The day before the wedding my mother walked up and down the streets of New Haven and invited everyone she saw and she allowed my younger siblings to invite all of their friends.

I hated the taste of alcohol but took a big swig of whiskey proffered up by somebody who suggested that all brides had to do that. We wore blue jeans and bare feet.

We "plighted our troth" in my living room. There were some things we did not know---it was the last time my family would be together because a younger sister (my bridesmaid) and my father would be soon and suddenly dead.

It was very crowded because my youngest sister had invited her entire 7th grade class in an impromptu way. All of the neighbors and strangers my mother had invited assured me that they would "send a gift" when they had time. None of them did. Why would you send a gift when you are given a verbal invitation as you casually saunter down a winter street a few hours before a wedding ceremony? You have not received a formal invitation, after all, and you probably do not realize when you see the crowd that nobody had received a formal invitation.

Then we sat down and played bridge with some guests who had urged a game. I don't think we really wanted to play bridge but we did not know how to say no. (We still don't know how to say no and after forty years of hard-learned lessons we still hardly dare to say no--and the stakes are so much higher than a bridge game).

Our wedding gift was the use of a two day car rental from my father so that we could return to school. We spent our wedding night at the Howard Johnson's in Danbury, Connecticut. The next day we were back in Ithaca ready to return to school. On Monday the car was returned and we went to class and life resumed as normal. And forty years has passed in the twinkling of an eye.

I picked the right person to marry and I hope he still feels the same way. My sisters all tell me that it was the saddest wedding that they ever saw. I did not feel as sad as I might have; I was going to twitch my mantle new and focus on the future.

But days like this bring me back to the past which seems as immediate as if it were yesterday. I write my impressionistic memories of the day. Impressionistic. I don't mean to sound as if I am complaining. I am saying that seemingly sad, odd, vague, capricious way-ward beginnings do not doom an enterprise! That day may have taught me more about the value of NOT breaking hearts than any of the saddest songs or greatest poetry could have. And it was a good life-lesson not to be the star at my own wedding. It made my husband and me cling to our life together with greater seriousness and it showed us that cherishing each other and not being too casual about what is worth the most is paramount!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Loved it! LOL. Sounds like both of my weddings. I find perfect weddings boring and stodgy. Too much foofoo and fluff. Lots of empty promises that soon will be broken. Like my husband says, it's not the wedding that matters, it's the commitment. LOL. We committed.
    1774 days ago
    Beautiful story! You two obviously had what you needed. I own a tuxedo store and its easy to tell who' s in it for the long haul and who' s in it for the big day. Sad but true.
    1777 days ago
    Wow. Quite a lesson for kids who are caught up in the "perfect" wedding, forgetting that it's a single day in the history of a lifetime. I'm glad you and the Mr. have had 40 years together, and here's to many more!
    1777 days ago
    A beautiful blog and a beautiful story. I tip my hat to both of you and wish you 40 more years of healthy living and happiness! Just goes to show that we do in many ways create our own destinies. Bravissimi! emoticon emoticon
    1777 days ago
    You two obviously had the makings for a strong and healthy marriage! Hats off to you!
    1777 days ago
    Happy Anniversary! Congrats on 40 years! That is a huge accomplishment!
    1778 days ago
    Lovely telling of your story - I was right there with you! Congrats on 40 loving years together.

    I had all the frills on my wedding day; fancy gown and veil; lovely catered meal for 200 of our 'nearest and dearest'

    ..and the worst blizzard of the decade!!

    It all went off well.
    The marriage lasted 4 years.
    In all, yours was the better scenario!

    Again, congrats!!

    emoticon emoticon
    1778 days ago
    Oh, how I'd rather start from that beginning and have the ever-growing relationship! So many people shoot the die on expensive clothes and flowers and cakes and settings - and give nary a thought to the heart of the matter. It's like wrapping an empty box with beautiful paper and a lavish bow, the trappings of wonder with no substance.

    You did it good, sweetie, from start to finish. And at the end of the day, that's what matters. Thinks me.
    1778 days ago
    You are a gifted writer. Someone could make a film out of your wedding story!

    My DH and I had a quiet wedding with just his Mum and Dad and my Mum and Dad. I bought a cheap maxi dress and made my own wedding bouquet and cake. We didn't have much money at the time. We've been very happily married for 36 years.

    Congratulations on your 40 years!

    1778 days ago
    40 years of cherishing - that is something to celebrate
    1778 days ago
  • SHOES17
    Howard Johnson's ~ Now there is a memory. I am glad yall cherish each other, Sometimes when things seem to be the worst that is all we have. Hugs
    1778 days ago
    What an amazing story! Many congratulations to both of you for making it to such a milestone.
    1778 days ago
    Congratulations on 40 years of living and loving and learning! You both obviously made great choices for life partners! Best wishes for 40 more of the same.
    1778 days ago
    Happy Anniversary! That was quite a day to reflect upon.

    1778 days ago
    Congrats on 40 years!!!
    1778 days ago
  • POPSY190
    The 40 years are more important than one day! emoticon It's amazing how time stretches and contracts in our memories.
    1778 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    wow, what a story!

    Congratulations on that 40 years, its a wonderful achievement!
    1778 days ago
    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. As my dearest husband told meon our wedding day, at the tender age of 47 and 51, "At the end of the day only one thing matters. You are married and happy for it." The rest is just what happened.

    I think this would be a good time for you two to plan a wedding you want and go have it!!!

    When I got married, My father was dead, his mother and father also. We put their pictures on our wedding "altar" (an outdoor fireplace) and pretended they were there.

    My mom and step dad walked me down the 15' concrete aisle between rows of folding chairs, towards the minister I just met and the glorious sunny afternoon.

    Our family stood up with us, sat with us, took our pictures, supplied the site, made our food and cakes, our firends came, my parents friends came, our families were there, ou freinds who could be were there. We had our music, the kids music, the NASCAR race on tv, so much food we didint know what to do, my DH and I poured a glass of champagne for all who came and he stuck the corks in his mouth as he opened them cause he had pcokets. we had a cowboy cuontry wedding sort of and he roped with the lasso around the cake before we cut it.

    The dya was over, we were tired, we were married and everyone got home to all their states safely. It was a sublime day.

    PLan yours and get married again!!! its more fun when you're old!

    1778 days ago
  • CHRIS3874
    Wow congratulations on being a survivor- so many couples pull the plug when things get tough (not trying to imply anything except to mean that lots of people give up too easily nowadays).
    1778 days ago
    emoticon Natalie on celebrating your 40th Wedding Anniversary! Despite the overwhelming obstacles you and your husband had to face on your wedding day, it is WONDERFUL to know that you both didn't allow these experiences to keep you from one another throughout your 40-year life's journey. Thank you for sharing your awesome blog! Have a beautiful and blessed Happy Anniversary!

    ~ Monika ~ emoticon
    1778 days ago
  • CRAFTY1960
    1778 days ago
    Great story. I like your writing style.

    My own wedding was 41 years ago as of January 2nd. It was a very small wedding, with not near the drama of yours. I made my own wedding dress for $20. Forty one years later we are just as married as if we had spent thousands on a wedding. We were very young, too, and I'm sure both sets of parents wondered if we knew what we were doing, but they kept quiet about it.

    Thank you for sharing.
    1779 days ago
    Real life sometimes is stranger than fiction! I agree that you have a gift for writing. Hope you and hubby are doing something nice today. Happy Anniversary!
    1779 days ago
  • LE7_1234
    Happy Anniversary!
    1779 days ago
    Happy Anniversary! It all does pass in the twinkling of an eye and the old saying of hind sight is 20/20 never escapes me. For me, it is lessons of acceptance, some of the hardest ones learned on our journey. I think this is one reason why I embrace change, so as not to make the same mistake emoticon
    1779 days ago
  • OJ_2_OK
    You are a great story teller by the way. You should write things like this down for a memoir.
    1779 days ago
  • OJ_2_OK
    People build up wedding days to be much bigger than I fear they can ever be. They are one day in an entire life time. You have reached 40 years with a man that is wonderful and you love! That is more happiness that many people can even begin to imagine. If I have half the happiness that you do I will be happy.
    1779 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/6/2013 1:06:57 PM
    Happy anniversary!! i wish you 40 more happy years together!!.
    1779 days ago
  • KENWANNE2013
    Congratulations on getting through the wedding day, and making it to 40 years! The saying 'no' is never easy, and I think much harder with family.
    1779 days ago
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