It is tough to have the rug yanked out from you, metaphorically speaking, especially when you are of an age when a fall could result in a broken hip.
A few years ago, my mom and I were reminiscing about my long-ago wedding when she casually mentioned, “I wonder whatever happened to the minister who performed your wedding ceremony.”
“I don’t know,” I answered. “Why?”
Then she commented in an off-hand manner, “I never was really sure if he had a license to marry people. He was a friend of your dad’s. You know how casual your father was about formalities. He probably never bothered to check the man’s credentials.”
I was shocked. It wasn’t so much that she wasn’t sure; it was more the fact that she never mentioned it at the time of my wedding, which at this time was some 40 years later.
Keep in mind that my wedding took place in an era when obtaining a state-approved license to marry people wasn’t easy to come by, unlike now when just about anybody can go online and obtain a license to marry people. It was also an era in which it was considered a family secret and a disgrace to be “living in sin,” i.e. living with a member of the opposite sex without the sanctity of marriage. Standards have changed since then.
“Are you telling me,” I shrieked, “that after 40 years of marriage, two step-children, one son, and five grandchildren, we may not be legally married? That our son may be, you know, a… well, you know…that ‘b’ word? And you are just now bothering to bring it up?”
By the time my husband got home from work, I had worked myself into quite an emotional state. To my surprise, he found it amusing.
“What difference does it make now?” he asked with a chuckle.
He did not think it was so funny when I started packing.
“I am going back home to Mama,” I sobbed. ” I don’t know what you think is so funny about our possibly living in sin for over 40 years, but let’s see how funny you think it is when you have to woo me all over again.”
“Woo?” he asked. “Who says woo any more? Do you mean you want us to date again? Shall I pick you up in my Packard and take you to a speak-easy to jitterbug and drink bathtub gin? Ha-ha.”
“We’ll see how amused you are when you run out of clean clothes and groceries, funny man.”
Mom seemed happy to have the company. She still missed her role as a nurturing caregiver. She spoiled me rotten.
When she left to run some errands she asked, “Do you need anything while I am out? Will you be ok? I can ask Mrs. Fox from next door to stop in and keep an eye on you.”
“No, no, I will be fine,” I answered from the recliner. “But before you leave, can you hand me the remote for the tv? And bring me another slice of the homemade apple pie, warmed in the microwave. And make it a-la-mode. Can you pick me up a couple of magazines too?”
Meanwhile, my husband, or rather, my suitor, kept calling for a date, but I was playing hard to get.
I pointed out to him that I wasn’t the naive, easily impressed, teenaged hick I was the first time around. A fast-food hamburger and a drive-in movie weren’t going to cut it anymore. I wanted a dozen roses and dinner at a five-star restaurant.
He complied and picked me up the following weekend.
Before we even rounded the corner from Mom’s house, he got “handsy,” just like the old days, and made his move.
“Hey!” I shouted. Slap!
“What kind of a girl do you think I am? I don’t let a boy get to second base on the first date! It will be months before you even get to the on-deck circle, fella. You won’t be putting a number on the scoreboard tonight. As a matter of fact, you are about a box of Crackerjack away from being replaced by a relief pitcher.”
“What’s with the baseball analogies?” he asked. “How about if I take you back to your mama’s? I can go bar-hopping with my buddies instead and maybe find a pinch hitter with better swing and a stronger delivery if you get my drift.”
After a moment’s thought, I bellowed, “And it’s a line drive to right field, over the fence, and this one belongs to the Reds!
The courtship is over,” I added. “Let’s go home, Joe DiMaggio.”