December 05, 2003


Ok, if you’ve read the first few of these, then you know what its all about. This is the personal stuff, the things I need to vent about or get off my chest or even just reminisce about in an attempt to de-stress myself. It’s inside the extended entry, read it or not, it’s up to you.

Liz goes in for surgery this morning. I’ve been asked what the surgery is for, and it’s primary goal is a complete hysterectomy. They’re taking it all, and because of previous tests and biopsies and operations, they’ve decided to do it the old fashioned way, right through the bikini line. Major invasive, but they want to take a good look around inside with the ol' Mark I eyeballs. Liz has had numerous tests and such done, and damn near every one of them came back negative for cancer, but abnormal. After years of trying various things, it's come to this, which is what Liz suggested lord knows how long ago.

So if you feel so inclined, cross your fingers or say a quick prayer or think good thoughts for Liz. Thanks.

What follows is the story of our wedding day. I’m sure everyone had some adventure leading up to their special day, so this might not seem like much, but maybe you’ll smile a little here and there. It's probably my happiest memory, which is what I want and need right now.

There were actually bets being made about whether or not I’d even show up for my own wedding.

To all outside appearances, we weren’t starting out on the most solid ground. Liz and I had met a year earlier while she was visiting her brother for the summer. We’d known each other for about a month when I asked her to marry me, and soon after she went back to Baltimore to finish high school. We traded letters almost every day, and a weekly phone call, plus I took the train out for a week in January to meet her parents, but everyone was pretty sure we were headed for a short and troubled marriage.

During my visit in January, we had done the Catholic pre-wedding counseling. Our priest was very cool about my schedule, and we did what normally took weeks in two afternoon sessions. Other than that, Liz had to do all the wedding planning by herself. She’d write and tell me about the invitations or flowers or where the reception would be, and I’d just smile and nod. The only thing I asked for was a plain gold band for my wedding ring. Nothing fancy, nice and simple for me.

I also was sending her almost every penny of every paycheck. Talk about trust, eh?

Now the reason for her doing all the planning wasn’t just the distance involved. I was in the process of becoming a Computer Programmer for Uncle Sam. We had scheduled the wedding around my schooling and change of posting. The plan was for me to leave tropical Grand Forks, North Dakota and proceed to Biloxi, Mississippi for 11 intense weeks of training. Following that, I’d make a quick stop in Montgomery, Alabama – our new home – to drop off my possessions on my way to Dundalk, Maryland to get married. Then it was right back to Gunter Air Force Station in Montgomery without delay, do not honeymoon, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Wonder of wonders, that part of the plan went off without a hitch.

I got to Baltimore tired and burnt out from classes. There was about a week to go before the wedding, and all there was for me to do was smile and nod over last minute things, meet the various family arriving daily, and party.

And it was a party. Pop made sure there was a keg in the backyard at all times, and we all partook often (near continuous in my case). Liz asked me to promise that I wouldn’t be drunk at the ceremony, which seemed reasonable, and I was glad to do so.

About the only worry anyone had was about my best man. Paul was supposed to be there, but the last word I’d gotten was that he was driving his clunker from Minnesota. Driving was plan B, he originally was going to hitchhike. Everyone else was fretting, but I knew he’d get there.

My parents and brother flew in from California. Everyone was getting along great, especially my brother and Liz’s maid of honor Denise who hit it off, uh, very well. Nights were spent drinking and playing poker.

One night (or it might’ve been early one morning), I was sitting in the back yard with Liz and the next door neighbor, and we were determined to finish the keg so a fresh one could be procured in the morning. Beer doing what it does to me, I had gotten tired of going into the house every half hour to relieve myself, so I went behind the conveniently located shed and did my thing.

When I finished, I stuck my hand down my pants and left my finger sticking out of my zipper. Staggering back out from behind the shed, I told Liz that this was what she had to look forward to in a few short days. Suddenly, from the darkened back porch, Liz’s mom’s voice said “Ted, I think you’ve had enough for the night”.

And I replied “Mom, I think you need to get a white robe so we can see you lurking in the shadows like a bat.”

To this day I don’t know why that woman loves me. We finished the keg, but I promised to be more quiet.

Paul still hadn’t shown up, and now I was getting questions every few hours. I had no way to contact him, but I still wasn’t worried. He’d make it.

During this week my brother and I were sleeping in a camper trailer parked in the driveway. I don’t remember any other arrangements, but Liz’s sister lived in an apartment down the same street, and some folks may have been sleeping there too.

A couple of days before the wedding, I got woke up in the middle of the night by a voice saying “You ain’t Ted” and the sound of my brothers head bouncing off of the bedframe where he was sleeping. Paul had arrived.

I swear to God this part is true. Paul finally made it to Baltimore, bringing along his wife Val and oldest daughter Amy (about age 4 at the time I’d guess). I expected him to call when he got to town for directions to Liz’s house. What actually happened was that he took the first exit after the Francis Scott Key bridge (coming in from the south for some damned reason), stayed straight through two lights and headed into a residential area, then spotted my parked yellow Charger way the hell down a side street. With all the cars around, he figured he’d found the wedding party. He went into the camper trailer, picked my brothers head up by the hair to see if it was me, dropped it when he saw it wasn’t, and that’s when I woke up.

I was ecstatic, Liz was happy for me. Nobody else was thrilled. Paul had gotten out of the Air Force a while back and had grown a full beard and let his hair grow long. He brought a suit for the ceremony, but other than that it was jeans and a ripped up shirt and bare feet. My mom asked me if I was going to have Paul shave and get a haircut for the wedding. Liz’s mom asked the same thing. I was adamant, he was there and that was the important thing, so leave him the hell alone. Not that it bothered Paul in the least. Val charmed everyone, and Amy became the ‘flower girl’ in our ceremony.

At the dress rehearsal, Liz and Denise (maid of honor), and myself and Paul were standing in a group with the priest, when Father Wojokowski said to Paul “This is the time when you give the ring to the groom.” Paul reaches into his pocket and pulls out a joint, mutters “wrong pocket” and gives me the ring from his other hand. I almost fell over laughing, Liz and Denise were trying hard to keep straight faces, and I don’t think anyone else ever knew what had happened.

That night, my dad had to come get Paul and I from Liz’s sister’s place because we were drunk as skunks, rolling down the slope of her front yard over and over and over.

Wedding day. I found out later that Liz had a couple of quick shots to calm her nerves. I was alcohol-free for the entire time up until the reception. Hey, I’d made a promise. Paul and I had gotten dressed at the sister’s apartment; I was in my dress blues, and Paul in his brown three-piece suit (including shoes). We posed for a few pictures and then headed for the church.

When we got there, there was a problem. All of the flowers (bouquets and boutonnieres) were at Vee's apartment (a soon-to-be-ex sister-in-law), and she wasn’t around. I don’t know who had the bright idea to trust her, because she was far from reliable.

Not to worry, because I'm a guy with tools and my best friend. Telling everyone that we’d be back before the ceremony (and nothing more), Paul and I jumped in my car and headed over to rescue flowers. Vee lived in a bad neighborhood, and dressed as we were, we stood out like a sore thumb. After knocking on her door, it was obvious that she wasn’t home, so there was only one thing to do.

Returning to my car, we grabbed the tire iron and a couple of big screwdrivers and headed back to Vee’s apartment. As we removed her front door from it’s hinges (and not being gentle about it), her neighbors came out into the hallway to see what the hell was going on. I assured them that it was official government business and that they should go back inside their own apartments. What did they know? A guy in full dress military uniform and another in a nice suit were breaking into a place, it probably happened every day in that building.

Once we were inside, the flowers were quickly located. They were sitting on the kitchen table, and to this day I have no idea where Vee was. All I know is that she didn’t make the wedding, and the next time I saw her was years later when I served her with a subpoena (another story). I grabbed the flowers and Paul leaned the door back sorta in the doorway.

The ceremony is a blur to me. I know the maid of honor sang Time in a Bottle (“sounds like a drinking song” remarked my father-in-law). I remember the priest saying “Congratulations, you’re married”. I also remember him saying he couldn’t come to the reception because he had a six-pack in the freezer back at the residence. People threw rice or birdseed or leadshot or some damn thing as we came out of the church. Liz and I sat in the back, Paul drove and Denise rode shotgun in my highly decorated car on the way to the reception.

My favorite picture is of Liz’s grandmother dancing with Paul.

Liz and I finally left the reception (good food, good liquor, good music, lots of fun like a reception should be), and headed to our ‘honeymoon’. What it really was was one night at the Holiday Inn, because we had to be on the road back to Alabama the next day. After consummating the marriage (gee, that didn’t take long), we decided to keep the party going a while longer. While Liz filled the bathtub with ice and called everyone to come over, I ran to the liquor store for a few cases of beer and that was how we ended the day. Newlywed and surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Posted by Ted at December 5, 2003 07:51 AM
Category: Seriously

Nice story.
Good luck on the operation.

Posted by: Starhawk at December 5, 2003 08:24 AM

Now that's a wedding!

Best wishes for Liz.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 5, 2003 10:58 AM

Charming story. Good luck with the operation, and have faith.

Posted by: Camilo at December 5, 2003 11:16 AM

great story, it did make me laugh.

..saying a prayer for you and the Mrs.

Posted by: jim at December 5, 2003 11:44 AM

*swoon* I love that story!

All my love to you and Liz during this difficult operation and recovery! I will be thinking about both of you, and this story, for a long time to come. :)

Posted by: Dawn at December 5, 2003 07:10 PM

I'm thinking about you and your family. I hope all goes well.

Posted by: Mr. Green at December 5, 2003 08:15 PM

You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Tink at December 5, 2003 09:39 PM

I've been praying for your wifes successful surgery and recovery for weeks now--now I'm just cranking it into overdrive... PLEASE let us know how things go, dear!

G-d bless you and your family, and may your wife come through with flying colors...


Posted by: Denita TwoDragons at December 5, 2003 09:54 PM

I didn't read this post. I went straight for the coments.
You and the girls are awesome!
Everything'll work out 'cause we said so and we mean it.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at December 5, 2003 11:43 PM
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