It's one of my favorite things to do, to sit at this window and look out into the back yard. Now, after the events of a couple of weeks ago, it's even more soul-satisfying, because I have such a lovely memory to enjoy.
On the Saturday before Easter, my granddaughter was married, right here in my back yard. It was a beautiful, simple ceremony. It was not without a small glitch here and there, but what wedding is? That only adds to the fun. The primary responsibility for the preparation fell to me, because of the geographical constraints. The bride lives in Port Aransas, eight hours away, and her mother lives in Fredericksburg, four hours away, but the wedding was to take place here in Irving. That pretty much translates to me doing most of the preparation. Not a problem. I volunteered, after all, and it was a total joy.
I couldn't believe how people stepped up and took an interest in the whole thing. My trusted friend, Joe, who has been the driving force behind the development of this yard of mine was on the bandwagon from the beginning, a year ago. He helped me plan and prepare, and kept me on course. He was here several times during the weeks before the wedding, with his helper Jorge, and they groomed and pruned, pulled any weed that was bold enough to lift its head, and planted flat after flat of "bloomers". They planted some new roses, and carried in some temporary potted things. His brother, who happens to be my neighbor, and owns the garden center where I obtain about 95% of what is planted here, also joined in. He loaned me some plants which I would not normally have bought, but which were needed for this occasion, and would not allow me to pay rent for them. Good friends, and God.
A large part of my joy in the memory is in reflecting upon the effort which God put into making the day perfect. For ten days beforehand, the long-range weather forecast had been threatening us with rain, and my only backup plan was to move the whole thing (65 guests) into my living room. Eeek! Not only that, but due to the very warm weather we had in March, most of the irises were in full, furious bloom, and I had every reason to fear that they would be finished before the wedding. The roses, because of the current cool weather, just sat there, beautiful bushes with tiny buds, and refused to progress. I had visions of a wedding with no flowers.
I had arranged for a friend, who plays just about any musical instrument, to bring his keyboard and play the wedding music. Two weeks before the wedding, he very reluctantly informed me that he couldn't do it, as his family had tickets to fly to the East coast to visit his son. When he agreed to play, he hadn't realized it was the same weekend. He felt terrible about it, but I understood. Wives make arrangements, men just carry the luggage and get on the plane when they're told to do so. I do understand that.
Still, I had to regroup. I thought of a church friend who is active in the local high school music programs, called her, and she put me in touch with one of the directors. No problem. She would arrange for a nice little string quartet of talented kids. God had fixed it for me.
During the week before, the weather remained cloudy and cool. The irises slowed down without the sun to coax the flowers out. My pansies fairly burst with color, and redoubled their bud-setting efforts, loving the cool weather. A few rosebuds swelled with promise. We had one little rain shower, which turned the already-green grass a vibrant emerald. God again.
While I was wearing myself to a nub trying to get the house clean (why, I don't know, as everyone would be outdoors), my neighbor mentioned that she had a lady in her house helping with some cleaning. Hmm. Would she be interested in a couple of hours more work when she finished? Yes, she would. So I met the helpful Rue, who came over and in two hours had dusted my office, living room, and dining room, and vacuumed those rooms and the sunroom and kitchen. They are large rooms with a lot of furniture. She also helped me unload at least twenty bags of groceries from my car and put part of it away.
When I asked her what I owed her, she wouldn't say, just told me to give her whatever I thought it was worth. I gratefully gave her $40, because her help had gotten me to a point where I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and could even imagine being able to go to bed that night. So, imagine my shock when tears came to her eyes and she gave me a hug, and whispered that I would never know how badly she needed that amount right then. Then she said, "God must have known I needed you." She needed me?? Later, I learned that my neighbor had employed her through an agency, and Rue would not be paid by them until the next week! I think that $40 was all that stood between Rue and her children, and hunger for the weekend. God again.
A couple of weeks before the wedding, my trusted and reliable friend Ted, who does all the repairs, electrical work and such around this house was here to repair a decaying door facing on the back door. In doing so, he discovered termite damage. He recommended an exterminator. I've learned to trust Ted's recommendations, and so I called Johnny to come and dispatch the termites. He did, and I enjoyed a couple of hours of conversation with a delightful young man, a devoted Christian and family man. I told him about the wedding, and he was very interested. I made some offhand comment about hoping the mosquitoes wouldn't be too bad. On the day, I never saw a single mosquito. Later, I learned that Johnny had dropped by a couple of days earlier, while I was out, and had sprayed all the shrubbery with an organic compound that repels mosquitoes. No charge. God again.
Good Friday was cloudy, with a tiny sprinkle here and there, but no rain. Then Saturday dawned beautifully clear, still cool but not cold, soft breeze making the trees sway gently. Irises I hadn't even realized were budding suddenly unfurled huge, ridiculously beautiful flowers, and even some of the roses opened. My favorite, the lavender-pink Angel Face, had nine large, perfect blooms on its compact little bush, each one redolent with the intoxicating fragrance that seems to belong to Angel Face alone.
That rose is special to me. My dear little Maltese dog, Sugarplum, was my companion for nearly thirteen years. I lost her a year and a half ago, and she's still sorely missed. I often called her Angel Face, and when I saw that little rose in a catalog, I knew I had to have it. It's a sturdy little thing, and blooms so beautifully, but never more beautifully than it did on the day of the wedding. God again.
The day was absolutely beautiful, all day. Bright and clear, stayed cool enough for comfort, even though the sun was bright. The caterer, a friend from work, had a very competent crew working in the kitchen during the ceremony, and afterward, while pictures were taken, they brought in and set up large round tables all around the yard, so people could be seated and eat comfortably. Everyone just brought their chair from where they had been near the arbor, and sat at whatever table they chose. The caterer had set up a little tent, and served the simple food from there, and all went smoothly. Then the caterers cleaned up, removed every vestige of their preparation, left my kitchen cleaner than they found it, and left the yard completely free of any debris. God again.
Because of the cloudy week we had just come through, there was absolutely no algae in the pond, and the pumps were running smoothly. The fountain burbled happily, like a soft, tinkling hymn playing in the background. The little umbrella fountain made its glass-like bowl over the water, smooth and silent. The water was crystalline, the fish clearly visible, bright and beautiful. God again.
The string quartet consisted of three lovely young girls in long black dresses and one young man in a tux. They played beautifully, their sweet string music drifting through the yard. Then Amanda came down the stone pathway, so beautiful, looking like an angel, with her perfect figure in her gorgeous dress. She moved so gracefully, to the familiar strains of the wedding march, performed perfectly by the little quartet. It was much more appropriate in the outdoor setting than my friend's keyboard would have been. God again.
My two little grandsons served as ringbearers. Each carried a ring, since it was a double-ring ceremony. They behaved beautifully, looked so handsome, and did exactly what they were supposed to do, right on cue. Charming!
When she decided to have the wedding here, Amanda realized that her pastor in Port Aransas would not be able to do the ceremony, and was wondering who could do it. I remembered that Ted is also a licensed minister. I mentioned it to him, and yes, he'd be happy to do it. Amanda knows Ted, and happily agreed, and so it was that my friend Ted stood under the arbor with Amanda and Kelly on that Saturday before Easter, and heard their vows, and pronounced them husband and wife. It was just what Amanda had wanted - a simple ceremony with family and friends. God again.
When the bride and groom were making their getaway, in a limo so very thoughtfully provided by a friend of the bride's mother, everyone stood out on the driveway and showered them with birdseed and rice. (The local birds were delighted the next morning.) Just as the car pulled away, a light misting began, which later progressed into a sprinkle and some actual rain that night, but not a drop fell on the wedding. God again. He stayed with me all through the week, opening doors and smoothing the path, and stuck with us all right to the final getaway.
Lovely memories. In a little while, my precious daughter-in-law Brittney, who was the official photographer, will have pictures ready and I'll enjoy them so much. Meantime, I can sit at this window and visualize every moment of that day, in my memory. Sometimes, that's even better than pictures! Thank you, God.
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