Today – the 3rd Sunday in September – is the anniversary of Mom being reunited with her O! Best Beloved, after 28 years of “Well done!” widowhood. Although Dad was 63 when he died, Mom a mere 64 (a year younger than I am now), I thought of both of them as “old.” Interesting how time changes perception – they were kids!
It took Mom months to work her way out of the depression that cloaked her days after Dad’s passing. She finally roused herself, the day finally came when she could see again that the sky was blue – “but never the same shade as before” – and she would go onto to do amazing things, touch an astonishing number of lives.
This week’s Mindwalker 1910 share is one from July 2001, the 2nd to last posting she’d write before her fateful trip to Alexandria, VA. Am sure it would meet with her approval, to use the day to remember her 07/18/36 wedding:
Subject: … and give thee peace
Date: July 27, 2001
This week’s weather reminds me of my wedding week, 65 years ago this month.
1936 might seem like a very long time ago to some of you ~ the majority of you were not even a gleam in your father’s eye yet ~ but to me it can seem like yesterday.
It can seem that way especially during a week like this one, which mirrored my own wedding week.
The week Pete and I were married will sound familiar to anyone who sweltered through this last week in Bryn Athyn – it was uncomfortably hot and so humid.
I did not let the weather get me down, all those years ago. There was nothing I could do to make it better. Instead, I focused on the reality that in a few days, I would be Pete’s
wife, forever and ever.
Our wedding took place in the cathedral’s chapel. Only about thirty people can fit into the cathedral’s chapel, but it was enough for us.
Pete asked Len Weitzel – his best friend, who’d help engineer our first meeting on that fateful New Year’s Eve – to be his best man.
Since my sister Betty was with the Edwin Asplundh family in California and could not get to the wedding – distances were really distant back then – I asked my older sister, Dorothy or Dot, to be my maid of honor. (Dot was her usual straightforward self – “I know you only asked me to be your maid of honor because Betty isn’t here. I am glad she is not here and that I am!”)
We were prepared to roast in the small chapel, the four of us on the tiny chancel. Of course, Bishop Alfred Acton expected to be steaming in his robes.
When the next day – my wedding day – dawned, it was much like this morning – beautiful, with blue skies, cooler temperatures and no humidity. It was close to what our family refers to as a pearl of a day.
I remember getting dressed at the church and how cool the fabric of my dress felt as I put it on. (It was a far cry from the night that Pete’s father and step-mother gave a party in our honor, when the black slip of my dress felt like hot steel when I put it on.)
I was especially lucky because Will Cooper had just designed a contraption (still used today) that allows a wedding dress to be put on a hanger and hoisted up, so a bride can just stand underneath, raise her arms and – abba~ka~da~bra! – the dress gently drops into place with a minimum of muss and fuss.
I remember a description in a book I love that described a young bride as practically dancing to meet her husband. That was how I felt that day – dancey inside.
When I came out to the East Lawn to have our photos taken, there was Len, sitting under one of those great looming trees — with with a highball in his hand.
Pete seemed a bit on edge. I have know of grooms – quite a few -who take a “glass of courage” (a stiff belt of alcohol) before getting married. Len might have taken that route, but not Pete. He steadied himself by chain smoking cigarettes before the wedding – which is evident in our formal shots. Just look at his left hand!
Because there were so few people – comparatively, for a Bryn Athyn wedding – we did not have a hymn before the service began. Instead, I had “O Precious Sign” for my wedding march. My lifelong friend, Joyce Cooper, played the organ.
As is traditional for a Bryn Athyn wedding. Pete and I entered the chapel together, arm in arm. As we entered – and, my, the chapel was filled – I heard someone say, “Oh, how sweet.” I remember being happier than I could have imagined possible.
During the prayer, I had a hard time not bubbling up with laughter. That was in part because I was so happy and it was part because all through the prayer, Len was tracing the outlines of the stone inlay with his hands. I never found out if he was enthralled by the design or the coolness of the stone, but I will remember it for always.
I remember the feel of Bishop Action’s hands as he said the blessing over us. When we were betrothed earlier that summer – also in the small chapel and also by Bishop Acton – I wore a wide-brimmed straw hat. After the prayer, as Pete and I remained kneeling, I was aware of Bishop Acton hesitating for a second as he stood before us. Suddenly
it dawned on me why he was pausing and I whipped off my hat so he could place his left hand directly on my head as he placed his right on Pete’s.
That is one of the most powerful moments in both ceremonies, when the minister places his hand on the couples’ heads and says the beautiful Triple Blessing – “The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make His face to shine upon they and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Through the years, it never failed to give me a thrill when Pete and I would take holy supper, side by side, and the minister would place his hands on our heads and say a blessing. It always took me back.
It would be nice for a husband and wife to have a “laying on of hands” on their anniversary.
I am missing Pete now, feeling both filled with happy memories and a strong sense of sadness missing the wonderful, exceptional man who was my friend and lover throughout his life, right up to the very end.
Near that end, Mim and I went to visit him at in the nursing home (he’d slipped into the coma that served as a bridge between this world and the next). A nurse said to me, “Mrs. Lockhart, he knows you’re here.” Disbelieving, I looked over to the bed where he lay – and she was right; there was his hand, moving over the sheet of his bed, looking for mine.
On that note, I am leaving you, with lots of lot and a few tears –
Mrs. Raymond Lewis Lockhart