It’s an old family story. I know, stop groaning. I won’t make it too long to bear. Promise…
It all started when my Uncle Mike, then a young teen, met a young girl at a summer church camp. They dated each other in high school, he a senior and she a sophomore. After he graduated at age 17, he was off to the U.S. Air Force. But they remained in touch with each other. About a year or so later Uncle Mike returned home and proposed to Vicky. I was a tiny girl of about five when Uncle Mike asked Vicky to marry him. It seems like everyone was so much taller than me. But I certainly knew what a wedding was.
News of the engagement was, however, not well received by either Uncle Mike’s father or his mom. My grandmother, “Nonny,” as I and my brothers called her, was none too thrilled. To say the least. Although she liked Vicky, and would grow more and more fond of her over the ensuing years, at that particular time she felt that Uncle Mike and Vicky, 18 and 16 respectively, were just too young to get married…as she herself had done when she was only 16. But those were indeed different times.
Some in the family thought that since Uncle Mike, the youngest of her four boys, was “her baby,” Nonny didn’t think Vicky was (air quotes) “good enough” for him. I don’t know if that was or was not the case (after all, such things do happen in families), but to me that was entirely irrelevant. I loved my Uncle and was totally on board with being in his wedding! Actually, ANY wedding since I, like seemingly all young girls my age, was a Lady awaiting her Prince. Marriage is THE day.
But for whatever reason the ceremony was “postponed” (again, air quotes) …indefinitely. I abruptly came to the realization that there was to be no wedding, but more importantly, I WAS NOT GOING TO BE A FLOWER GIRL!!!!!
I pitched a complete crying fit, hiding behind one of the living room chairs – an unstylish early 1970’s gold thing. I DIDN’T CARE about my Uncle’s or (not) soon to be Aunt’s broken hearts. I only cared that I didn’t get to be the flower girl! (But give me a little slack, please. I was five.) In short, I was a frustrated flower-girl-in-waiting …and waiting …and waiting. Decades! And over the years, it became a running family joke that if Uncle Mike ever did get married, I would be a flower girl at his wedding
Hindsight is always 20/20, is it not? It turns out that my grandmother, Nonny, made the right call. My Uncle went into the Air Force for eight years during Vietnam and then on to college after he got out. During that time, he figured out that he is gay and then proceeded to tell the family that as well. (This resulted in a BIG family explosion, but that’s perhaps another blog post someday.) Nonetheless, against all odds he and Vicky remained close friends over the following forty+ years. If they’d married, possibly had children and an ugly divorce, I doubt their friendship would have lasted anywhere near that long.
Ultimately, Uncle Mike finally met his life partner, David. Neither of them thought they’d EVER see in their lifetimes the day that marriage between same-sex couples would be blessed in a Christian church, socially supported by the majority of Americans, and at long last, made legal across the entire country. But as life is a twisty road with surprises around each bend, all of this did indeed happen.
So, as you know from the title, two weeks ago I was a 52 year-old flower girl! But I wasn’t the only woman in the wedding. There was a second grown-woman flower girl, their neighbor, Laura. And to top it all off, Vicky served as a groomette!!! (I told you they remained close friends.) And of course, there were two best men: my cousin Keith (Uncle Mike’s oldest nephew) and David’s brother, Jeff. Three other close family friends rounded out the wedding party. How many former fiancés get to be in the wedding party of a past love? Very few I’ll bet.
How was the wedding you ask? It was quite emotional for both the grooms and their friends. To see the marriage of two men in love was a first for many of us. A nation growing more tolerant of same-sex marriages combined with the authority to do so by the US Supreme Court have ushered in a new era for the LGBT community – and those who love them.
The Episcopalian ceremony was quite traditional, although the wedding party was not. There were readings, scriptures, teary-eyed vows and a kiss. (Actually several kisses.) And no, the church was not decorated with rainbow flags, but rather beautiful, lush arrangements of flowers and flickering candles amid high vaulting ceilings, old carved wood and Tiffany stained glass windows. Dinner was Mediterranean, the champagne bubbled and the yummy cake decorated their noses when the grooms fed each other.
After dinner brought dancing. The first dance brought a few more teary eyes as the happy couple swayed to “All of Me” by John Legend. When the second song started, the wedding party surprised the other guests as we boogied onto the dance floor each wearing our new Ralph Lauren sunglasses. The sunglasses were one of the quite generous gifts we received for being part of their beautiful day, so it was only fitting to be seen celebrating in style. The reception was in many ways rather traditional as well. (Although the grooms didn’t seem to know that clinking knives on glasses meant they should kiss. However, to everyone’s delight, they were fast learners.) All in all, it was a festive afternoon indeed.
In summary, I love and support my Uncle Mike and now my new Uncle David. Their 13-year relationship is more loving and respectful than many straight marriages I’ve seen, with too many of those ending in divorce. For those of you in disagreement with same-sex marriage, I respect that you have your own opinions. However, the Bible that I read and believe is authored by a loving God who said,”Judge not, lest ye be judged.” So, if there are any “eternal” life impacts from this marriage, let it be God’s hand that either caresses or corrects – and not ours.
I’d appreciate any positive comments you may have as you join me in wishing Uncle Mike and Uncle David a lifetime of happiness and love.
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