The ebb and flow of life is a lot like the tides, it seems to come in and fill you up so full, cover the land of your life, expand until everything seems to be touched by it. Then it goes out, dragging it all away, revealing everything that was covered up, the pretty and the ugly, the things that should be there and the things that shouldn’t. Daddy said that when the tide was out was the best time to find interesting things to look at and to clean up the beach of any litter that other thoughtless folks had left behind that was too big or too trapped for the incoming tides to push out of its way. Guess that is life in a nutshell too.
Aunt Adona and Cheryl wouldn’t let our getting married be a simple thing. Oh no, it would be unthinkable for the Pappas family to let such a chance go by. There was gonna be a party and that is all there was to it. And because of my condition, and because there was an empty barn handy, they decided Dino’s place would be where “the celebration” would be. I looked at Dino and he looked at me and then we just kinda shrugged. There’s sometimes for the sakes of the ones you love you just move out of the way and let the train roll.
We didn’t give them much time though, so as to control the amount of silliness they seemed to want to get up to. Having a baby kinda puts things on a schedule and Dino was particular that he wanted it done before hand. Aunt Adona gave him a pinched up look but she finally agreed that made the most sense. He also told her that it would need to be a daytime affair so that everyone could get home in good time. That was easily agreed to all around given the circumstances of our lives.
It turned into a modified harvest celebration with “decorations” accordingly. Good thing I was partial to autumn colors to begin with because that’s all there was and some of them were artificial, pulled out of the storage shed at Alec’s place where they were stored every year. The weather was perfect for it. After the rain, that had been gone for about a week, we were having an Indian Summer; a little warmer in the daytime than expected but still cool enough at night so that you didn’t forget what was still comin’.
It wasn’t a catered affair like weddings mostly used to be. There wasn’t no fancy finger foods although I did see more than a couple of folks using their fingers to eat with. No punch in glass bowls either; there were however big ol’ jugs of cider, plenty of bottles of the Pappas label, and a couple of jugs of the hard stuff being passed from man to man in order to salute the passing of another poor soul that’d been hen bit. We didn’t have a great big cake with white frosting, many layers, and a fancy topper but if you looked down the food table there were a surprising number of cakes, pies, and bread puddings all brought by our friends to celebrate the fact that we were both putting our pasts behind us and finally getting on with our lives.
Most folks brought something even if it was only an ingredient for the burgoo. It was one of the biggest burgoos I’d ever witnessed in my life; it filled up half a 55-gallon drum and there was enough to have some in the other half too. Lord must have known what He was about when there were things in the garden He gave us an overflowing blessing with. We didn’t use up all our extry, not by a long shot, but it did get taken advantage of.
I tell you what. If for some reason Dino ever does get to forgetting our wedding day all I’ll have to do to convince him to unforget it is pull out that promissory note we wrote to each other with our vows. After we said ‘em in front of company Brother Calvert – who officiated even if he couldn’t make us legal – said we’d asked for witnesses to sign for us. Lord help, nearly everyone must have signed; it looks more like a funeral registry than it does a marriage document. In fact, we had to add a couple of pages so that everyone could add their John Hancock that wanted to.
Aunt Adona insisted on a first dance and I was fit to be tied. I’ve never learned and didn’t want my first day as Dino’s wife to be the first time I embarrassed him to death. Dino just laughed and asked if I was afraid he was going to step on my feet.
“No. I’m afraid I’m gonna step on yours, trip, and roll away as fat as I am like the gingerbread man. I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself.”
In the end he sweet talked me into it and we did a passable Tennessee Waltz. Not exactly what you would call a wedding song given the lyrics but it was one of the few that all the people that had brought instruments knew how to play. If nothing else it was an original choice I’ll give you that much.
For the most part everyone there wished us well. Even my cousins had a letter delivered to us special, wishing us well and regretting not being able to attend as they had to leave the next day to “report.” The letter was tied around the neck of one of the noisiest, ugliest ducks I have ever had a face to face with but it reminded me so much of them I nearly cried.
There were a few catty remarks from Cindy’s crowd but not many and I ignored them all. And there was some satisfaction in seeing those cats were pretty much sat on and squashed by some of the ladies of the community that had decided that I’d suffered enough and that it was time to shut up about it. Few if any of our guests stayed all day, couldn’t afford to. People came and went, sometimes neighbor spelling neighbor so that no one’s home was left unguarded but everyone got the chance to come by and at least wish us well. It was about three when the majority of the folks headed out and the leftovers were divvied up and the cleanup crew gone by five.
Alec came over to Dino and said with a solemn wink, “We’re going to take Kerry home with us tonight. We’ll bring him back before supper tomorrow.” Of course we had to go over and tell the Squirt it was only for overnight and that we’d see him the next day.
“But why?! Wasn’t I a good boy?” he cried.
I told him, “Well of course you were. Good as tax-free gold and I’ll tell anyone so that asks.”
That always give him a tickle but then he wanted to know, “Then why do I have to go over to the big house for the night?”
Well I could see everyone was not quite sure how to answer it so I told him the truth. “Well, your daddy and I need some time to move my things upstairs into his room. That’s what people who are married do. And this way you don’t have to be bothered by all the dust.”
He looked at me and then at his father and you could just see the little wheels were a-flyin’. The he sighed and shook his head. “I’m mighty sorry Riss but I just don’t see no other way around it. That bed’s too big and heavy to move up them stairs. You’re just gonna have to share Daddy’s bed.” We were all trying our best not to laugh but when he added, “But it’ll be ok, he snores too” I didn’t know whether to light his tail feathers or join in all the laughter around us.
It was quiet after the last wagon had left and my nerves were getting stretched thin. Finally I broke the silence and said, “There’s not a thing to do in the kitchen. Every bit of the mess was kept out here and the few leftovers are down in the ice room unless you want me to heat you up something.”
“Uh uh. I’m full as a tick.” He just looked at me.
“Well then, do you need help with evening chores?” I asked still looking for a topic of conversation we could light on.
“All done. Chester and his sons took care of them by way of making it a wedding gift.”
He reached up and took the crown of autumn leaves and ribbons off my hair. I’d forgotten they were up there. Dino asked, “Wanna go sit down a spell? You’ve been on your feet most of the day.”
“Sounds good,” I told him not sure what else to say.
We stepped up onto the porch and then sat in the swing. He put his arm along the back of it and then set it to a gentle motion. “You seem nervous,” he said quietly.
I hitched a breath and nodded. “Some.”
“Want to tell me why?” he asked just as quiet. I could sense he was treating me with care which I appreciated but at the same time I found it grating, like it only pointed out my short comings that he’d have to do it.
I sighed. “I’m five kinds of fat. Worried you’re gonna wind up thinking you bought a pig in a poke. And wondering if … if you’re gonna compare me to Tammy and find out you need more … more of whatever she had.”
Scooting over closer and pulling me in slowly he asked, “Are you going to … er … compare me to Sol?”
I winced. “Well, that’s kinda the problem. When it came to … er … that part of it … uh … he … um … kinda didn’t make much of an impression.”
There was dead silence and I thought maybe I’d shared a little too much of what was bothering me but when I looked over at him his eyes were squinched closed and his hand was over his mouth. Then his chest starting bouncing and then he added his belly and finally he got up and tried to get away. “Dino Pappas! Are you laughing at me?!”
That did it. He was laughing so hard he was doubled over and using the side of the house to hold himself up with. I levered myself out of the swing – no easy task I tell you – and was stomping into the house thinking that I was gonna slam me some doors loud enough to be heard two counties over but then he grabbed me and swung me around and into his arms. “Lord Riss, the things you say.”
“Let loose of me you … you …”
“No. Now you listen to me Mrs. Pappas,” he said with a great big grin on his face. “We’re gonna go inside, move your things, and then you’re gonna give me a chance to make an impression on you.”
I was still set to be angry until I saw the look in his eyes. It was a promise the likes of which no one had ever offered me. I knew I had a choice whether to throw it back in his face or accept it. I decided that it was the best for both of us if I accepted it.
And he did … impress me that is. Quite a lot.