56 wonderful years

Baltimore’s humidity in August is oppressive, and I grew accustomed to it as a kid, but even that failed to prepare me for late summer in Miami. The sanctuary at Miami Shores Community Church was not air conditioned; neither was its fellowship hall, where we had our wedding reception. Everyone dripped.

Fifty-six years ago, Betsy and I joined our lives and love together in marriage, on this day, which also happens to be my birthday (turning 84!). But no, we didn’t choose this date so I would always remember my anniversary. I never will forget that special day. I remember so much detail. Some of it is funny.

We had reserved a beachfront room for Betsy’s parents in a hotel on the north end of Miami Beach, several traffic-laden miles from the church. We wanted them to enjoy the sun and surf for a few days, a diversion from their surroundings in southern Maine. To keep it from wrinkling, Betsy’s mom spread her mother-of-the-bride dress on the bed. Good idea, except that she forgot that she’d left it there it until much later, when the time came for us all to get dressed for the wedding ceremony. Everyone looked to me to run the errand. I had to fight my way through miles of heavy traffic both ways and convince the hotel management that I should be permitted access to the room to retrieve the dress and bring it to Miami Shores.

Later, halfway through the reception, Betsy’s dad disappeared briefly to peel out of his sweat-soaked tux, re-emerging wearing slacks and a cooler sport shirt. How I envied him.

A driving rainstorm accompanied our trip up the turnpike to our honeymoon hotel in Pompano Beach, Disoriented by the heavy storm, I headed in the wrong direction at our exit but eventually realized my error, and we finally made it to our hotel.

The next morning, we drove back to Miami to pick up Betsy’s parents and her sister Martha, who had served as matron of honor, and take them to several popular tourist spots. Through the years, we laughingly have looked back on our “one-day honeymoon.” In truth, after the Maine folks departed, we did return to our hotel for a couple more days before returning to our jobs.

Today, Betsy resides in a very nice assisted living facility, and I reside with our cat, Miss Molly, in our home. This afternoon, I will visit her, bearing a dozen roses and a modest gift. The staff at her new home are setting a special table for us to dine together at dinner time. We will talk and reminisce about that humid, special night 56 years ago, and the promises we made and will keep always.

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