Thursday, May 3, 2007

Saying I Do

I met Jim when I was a bridesmaid and he was a groomsman in Kathy and Bob's (his cousin) wedding. We walked together and sat at the reception for the meal and I think danced once. I was toward the end of a relationship with someone else at the time. We started dating in September of 1982, with a trip to the local HOT Fair, after having gone dancing with Bob & Kathy a couple of times at West Fraternal Auditorium. Our dates were usually a movie or a visit with his family or dancing at Elk. We worked in the kitchen there, too, taking orders for burgers, etc., then cleaning up in time to catch a dance or two. I invited him to my apartment once for dinner, making a mexican casserole. I remember he was late due to a train. He ate and only later did I find out he wasn't exactly hungry, but he ate anyway. I remember shopping for western boots because he liked boots, and wore them to dance in. At the time, he worked for the Hallmark store at Lake Air Mall, where he was assistant manager. I of course, was at Sears. He liked to go camping with his family, and I went along probably once or twice, usually in his parent's camper. It was air conditioned.

Jim also liked photography and had several special lenses to make different effects. At Christmas, that year, Jim gave me an opal 'promise' ring. I remember Jenny at work showing all the ladies in the audit office that it was 'official', with expectations of a wedding at some point. On Valentine's Day - Dad and Grandma's Birthdays - we went to Mom & Dad's for cake. He sat down at the organ, then in the dining room, and started to play the wedding march then gave me a card that said "Its Valentine's Day so please say yes"....and on the inside: "I'll tell you later what the question is". Denice pulled me to the back bedroom and grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me, saying "This is it!! He's going to propose!!"

We went back to my apartment where he said he had my Valentine's Day gift. I had to close my eyes and he put a large arrangement of silk daisies - my favorite - on the dining area table. As we sat on the couch, he said he had a question for me. After a pause, he said "I want to know if you will be my wife." I was speechless....didn't rush to answer....and he was anxious to hear an answer. I guess we sat there for an hour or so and I finally said yes. He wanted me to help shop for the ring so he didn't have one to give me at that point.

We planned to have a May wedding the following year, and I started looking for a ring and a dress, along with all the planning that goes along with it. Although Jim had already asked me, he had to run it by Mom & Dad. We were over at Kathy's parent's house...Betty & Richard's, along with Kathy & Bob. We were talking about it and Jim must have gotten too anxious, and it caused him to have a seizure. I knew he had epilepsy, but had never seen a seizure. They were 'absence' seizures, where he just stared and said "what'd you say?" whenever anyone spoke to him. Afterwards he was really tired. When we first dated he was afraid I wouldn't go out with him because of the epilepsy, and told me of a girl who rejected him for that reason. He recovered and we headed over to Mom & Dad's. I sat in the living room with him on the couch, Dad in his chair, Mom in the kitchen. He worked up the courage to ask, Dad said yes, then he had another seizure. I was able to guide him outside to the front porch and let him 'recover', then we came back in. Dad really never saw anything other than he thought Jim was confused about a newspaper article he was asking him about.

I found a ring I liked at Wilson's .... gold with diamonds inlaid on the wedding band, and a single diamond with inlaid diamonds on either side of the engagement ring. Jim put it on layaway and before long, I was wearing it. That May - on the day it would be a year until our ceremony, Jim called and asked what I thought about moving the date up. "To When?" I asked. He said "How about September 17th, this year?" I told him that was a little short notice, but thought we could do it! That was it, we planned to get married the day after the one year anniversary of our first date.

We shopped at JoAnn's for my wedding dress and bought the first one I tried on, though I tried on a lot of dresses. I wanted my bridesmaids to be in rainbow pastel colors, and we found the dresses there as well. Beth was my maid of honor, followed by Laura, Amy, Kathy, Stephanie and Beth Hassell. Pink - Beth, Peach - Laura, Yellow - Amy, Green - Kathy, Blue - Stephanie and Purple, Beth Hassell. The flower girls were Lindsey Griffin and Kimberly Kubitza, dressed in white eyelet with blue ribbon sashes. The bridesmaids carried open baskets with silk daisies, with the handle wrapped in ribbon to match their dress, which I put together. Jim ordered my bouquet from a lady at church, and it included sunflowers and daisies. Jim wore a grey tuxedo, and his groomsmen were in black - John, Michael, John Ed, Bobby, Mark and Billy. Ring bearers were Aaron and Brandon Reinke, in little white suits. Christopher was a baby at the time, also dressed in white. When Beth could not fly in from Virginia for the wedding, John's wife Norma filled in...the dress fit as long as she wore flat shoes. Our wedding invitations had a rainbow on the front with little flowers, and Jim chose the font we used, which was a roman script.

We were blessed with many bridal showers...including a 'his & hers' at Kathy & Bob's and a 'pantry' shower at church which was huge, plus two showers from Sears co-workers and one from my church, a personal shower at Denice's house and one at home as well. We had more gifts at the reception!! Lots of thank- you notes later, I doubt we had to buy much of anything except groceries.

When the wedding date came around, Kathy & Bob were divorced. Their son Brandon was little at the time. I was a babysitter for him, and often had made it a point to go by and pick him up for Sunday school. I was his 'martian'. The wedding was held at our family's church, Lakewood, with Tim Griffin officiating. Amy sang "The Wedding Song" and Linda Gately sang "The Lords Prayer". Those pews were packed. I was not nervous, but Jim was so afraid he was going to have a seizure. Our prayers were answered and he made it through the ceremony just fine. We had a cake and punch at church. Our photographer, Johnny Bates (who I had previously dated) captured the day in posed shots, plus Ricky took lots of pictures at the reception - which I had no idea he was doing. It was a nice surprise to get those pictures with all the 'casual' shots of the receiving line and all the guests.

Jim's car was painted up and filled with balloons when we left the church in a shower of rice. It even had cans and shoes tied to the back. We had decided to go the Hilton for dinner, before heading out to West for a dance. We stopped at Mom & Dad's first, where Amy was sitting on the couch and Mom was hemming her dress. JoAnn evidently didn't get it done for the ceremony! We also went by Hillcrest Hospital to see Denice, who was admitted for difficulty with her pregnancy. Everyone was so sweet to give us best wishes as we walked thru the halls in our wedding attire.

We ate dinner at the Hilton where I have to tell a funny story. As we were giving our orders to the waiter, Jim asked "How big is this steak?" He thought for $14.99 he should know what he was getting!! I was embarassed, but we all laughed. Afterwards, Jim and I headed to West, with several of the wedding party in tow. Leather and Lace were playing that night, and we stayed probably until about 11 pm. Grandpa and Grandma paid for our hotel room that night at the Hilton, in the wedding suite, on the 7th floor, overlooking the suspension bridge. It was a beautiful view.

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