Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Wedding Album

Our wedding album--Bern's and mine--was out on the counter where I keep red wine. I normally only drink white wine, but I like to feel sophisticated from time to time and was getting a glass of red when I noticed the wedding album.

It's out, I know, because the granddaughters were here at Easter and love to see Bern and I as younger visages of ourselves. And, Jesus Christ, we were young! I was 23 and Bern (then 'Bernadine') was 20. God help us, what were we thinking?

September 5 we'll have been married 43 years. Lots of poets and rock stars never lived 43 years and we've shared a life that long. There have been very high 'ups' in all those years and several very low 'downs'. I sometimes tell people I've been married five or six times but always to the same woman.

How those children that we were managed to stay together this long, I'll never know. Dumb luck would be my first guess. Or maybe 'love' though that got severely tested quite a few times.

I really wish I had a smart phone and could download some of the pictures from that wedding album for you to see how young and fresh and eager for lust we were in those pictures. And see family and friends that were there with us.

Bern had cousins and friends and her sister as bridesmaids. I had only friends, though my second cousin--now nearing 50--was the ring bearer. My dad was my 'best man'. I think it was the best gift I ever gave him.

Bern's parents and mine are in lots of the photos--all dead now and for years, decades.

We have Bern's wedding photo over our kitchen fire place. It's a bit of a joke. We refer to it as the "Wedding Princess" and she is stunning, beautiful, a bit mysterious, lovely. We tell the granddaughters that Bern is a Queen in the photo. Sitting in front of the fireplace is a 3 foot by 2 foot photo of me with my lion hat on taken by Fred Jenks in St. John's library over four years ago. We tell the girls that's a picture of a fool

The Queen and the fool. That's us.

I didn't have a beard when we got married, only a long moustache and a Beatles hair cut. My  hair and moustache were dark brown, nearing black. That's how young I was. Today every hair on my face and head is gray or silver or yellow/white.

I initially ask myself, "who were those people?" so young and fresh and eager for life to come. Then I ponder it all and see Bern and myself in those photos at the beginning of what has been--for all the ups and downs--a remarkable 43 years. And I remind myself that I still love and live with that incredibly young, wondrously fresh woman.

We had been a couple, on and off, since she was 14 and I was 17--now we're talking a year short of half-a-century we've been together. High school sweethearts, we were. And there we are in that album, feeding each other wedding cake, kissing, my gazing at her while she looks out into the horizon, probably wondering what she's gotten into.

I remember those incredibly young people. They did ok for a marriage. OK indeed.

Way past 'average', I'd say.

And I still gaze at her when she doesn't know I'm looking, and I see that fresh young girl and the woman she's become.

We grow old together. But deep down I'm that dark brown haired boy and she's that ethereal young Queen. They're here with us as we roll into the 60's at too fast a speed. She actually looks more like  her 43 year ago self than I do.

I don't hold that against her...I rejoice in it.

Bern is not 'the love of my life'. She is, in a real way, 'my life'. It's just 'who I AM'. I am married to Bern. Like that. And joyfully.

I'm so joyful I spent that 20 minutes with the Wedding Album. It made me realize more clearly who I am...and why....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.