Somewhere along the way to wherever, we planted that seed and, each in our own way, nurtured it until it broke through the fertile fabric of our deliberations. Mary was the first to broach the subject, being the sentimental one in our relationship. I surprised even myself when I didn't immediately dismiss the notion out of hand, asince I don't usually abide such potentially emotional quagmires. I might have been influenced by Jim Christus and his wife, Barbara, who did it while on vacation in Hawaii recently. Jim, it's all your fault. Of course I'm talking about renewing our wedding vows.
For whatever reason we both felt that this vacation would be an excellent opportunity to do it, since we were meeting our new/old friends from last year's vacation, who were returning here for another round of raucus jocularity and ribald conversations with us, but we didn't make the final decision to go ahead with it until we were on the plane heading south, and even then the final decision was contingent on our friend, Dawn Mays, agreeing to officiate at the ceremony. Dawn is a retired Baptist minister and bishop from New Jersey. We met Dawn and her husband, Bill, 1/3 of the group we call the rental gang, last year when we all vacationed at this same place and agreed to meet here again this year to nurture our fledgling friendship. Of course, we never considered her not accepting our proposal, and when she said she would be honored to play her role in our little drama, we were committed. There was no turning back. When the second third of the rental gang, Maggie and Jay, who hail from upstate New York near Saratoga, arrived the die was cast.
The final third of the rental gang is, of course, ourselves, Bob and Mary, the principles around whom all this hoopla revolved. We decided that Thursday would be the ideal time to seal the deal. We planned to have a little foodish get together, just the six of us (although everyone in the area was
aware of the impending ceremony, if we had to feed them all we would have needed a truckload of chow to satisfy them all) after the formalities were dispensed with and made sure to have a good supply of wine of various vintages on hand to calm everyone's nerves. No big deal. We frequently do the same thing at happy hour but without the ceremony preceding the wine drinking and food eating.
What was far more difficult for both Mary and me was the need to write something to say about each other at the appointed time in the ceremony. I dashed off my tribute in a 2 hour burst of creative energy. It was easy because there is so much good I can say about my Better Half that the process was more an exersize in editing. If I were to cover all the attributes of my wife/best friend/lover/cheerleader/critic/caretaker/maid/financial manager/companion I would still be writing and everyone would have gone home, leaving me there talking to myself. Mary, I'm sure, had a far more difficult time fulfilling her obligation to find anything acceptable to say about me. She was working on the treatise right up to the moment that we took our places in front of the Reverend Mays. The thoiught that we might be heading to divorce court after the ceremony instead of partaking in the party goodies crossed my mind more than once. Since she had the chance to enumerate all my faults and idiosynchrises while looking for nice things to say, I figured I had no chance of coming out of her research with a glowing report. I was certain she would feel that I wasn't worth the effort it would take to keep me around anymore. But she surprised me by making up a bunch of good stuff that nobody questioned.
Dawn did a wonderful job with the ceremony she wrote for us. She lent a certain dignity and solemnity to the occasion that touched us deeply. I was as nervouse this go around as I was at our wedding 46 years ago. I knew when the time came for me to speak my piece, I would be too emotional to speak, too nervous to remember what I wanted to say. Parkinsons Disease plays a strong role in my emotional state. I now wear my emotions on my sleeve and I am easily brought to tears for the most mundane reasons. There is something in my brain that says it is ok to cry for any and all reasons that I encounter during the day. So I wasn't surprised when I choked up, looking into Mary's eyes, and had such a difficult time getting the words to make sense as they tumbled out of my mouth. Somehow everyone seemed to understand or at least get the drift of what I was trying to say. Or they faked it just to be nice.
When Mary's turn came to speak, she performed admirably as she always does. She found enough good to attribute to me that I was reasured that we will most likely stay together for awhile longer. After Dawn wass finished with us and we were officially stuck with each other, it was time to party.
This is where it gets a little weird. You'll have to wait for that chapter of Bob and Mary's excellent adventure until I have more time.... so, to be continued..