The rain was coming down so hard, and was not letting up! I was upstairs getting ready, while Mom was answering phone calls, "another person called, asking whether the wedding was still going to be outside!" she would exclaim, every ten minutes or so. Finally we decided to tell people that we would have the ceremony up at the school (where the reception was going to be, everyone had directions already-12 miles from the church property). My brothers dutifully went up and set up the two hundred chairs, or so. They also took the bags of leaves and strewed them generously down the aisle and in a large "heart" up where the Pastor and wedding party would be standing. In the meantime, one of them (or someone) had written a nice, large sign that read, "Veysey/Rhodes wedding, Perkinsville School", with an arrow. They had covered it with plenty of plastic and planted it in the ground at the beginning of the road to the church property.
It was a lonnnnggg morning, it seemed, but finally it was time to head up to the school. As Dad and I stood in the hallway where I had spent my first three years of grade school, he said to me, "You know, it still is not too late to back out. I will not be angry or upset if you decide to." I knew that he didn't say this because he did not like Syd, but because he was assuring me that he wanted only what was best for me. I do not remember how I responded to that, I am sorry to say. As the back doors were thrown open, Dad and I began our walk through the Autumn leaves, past hundreds of smiling faces (we had invited almost 500 people, but only about half came). It was then that I realized that I had forgotten to take my engagement ring off! I have a fat knuckle, so it was not easy. As I struggled with it, Dad was patting my hand (no doubt, thinking that I was shaking from nervousness). FINALLY the ring came off and I was able to slip it onto my right hand just before we reached Syd and Pastor, phew! I don't remember if I have even SEEN photos of Dad and I walking down the aisle, I can imagine my face!
By this time, of course, Syd had arrived and was waiting for his soon-to-be bride at the end of the aisle. What I DIDN'T know was the trip he took to get there...He had arrived WAY early (as is his custom), having picked up, from the nursing home, an elderly wheelchair-bound elder from our church. They had planned that the van door would be left open so our elder, Mr Martin, could stay in the dry van and watch all the drenched people sit and happily see an equally drenched couple unite in blissful matrimony. Syd also was transporting our friend Richard and the best man. When they pulled up to the entrance to the road, there was the sign - "Veysey/Rhodes Wedding, Perkinsville School". As you can imagine, someone said (in this case it was Mr. Martin), "They didn't tell the GROOM!?" How he laughed!
I must admit, I did not even KNOW that we hadn't called Syd. I cannot actually remember the first time I even heard the story (of course, I've heard it MANY times since)! All I know is that we had a wonderful day with family and friends; our church ladies did all the food; Mom made the cakes and did all the flower arrangements; my brother played, "God of Our Fathers" on the saxophone while I marched, shakingly, through the leaves. Syd was the handsome, smiling, groom and I was the young (18 year old) bride. Our first night was spent in Springfield, then we returned to our home church to share the Lord's day with our church family before heading out "camping" in our van, to Maine. Thankfully we only actually camped one night, then it was motels for the rest of the week. By the time we were on our return trip, we were eating only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but were extremely happy!
We both praise the Lord for these 32 years and for the way that He has lead us all the way. We are only pilgrims, sojourning through this life. As long as our hands are within His, He lovingly leads.
This excerpt is from one of my favorite hymns, In Heavenly Love Abiding:
|See? I knew what I was getting into. This was taken before my High School Senior Prom|
|Sometime in the mid-80s|
|Taken on our 25th Anniversary|