Happy Secret Anniversary, Babe

Eight years ago today, Reid and I got married at the Guilford County Courthouse. We invited my great-grandparents, our grandparents and parents as witnesses.

A wedding date was set for 3/11/11 in Riviera Maya, Mexico. (Anyone who knows my husband can deduce that choosing to be married on 3/11/11 was quite intentional. 311 is his favorite band and I figured he’d never forget our anniversary with a date like that. True story.)

We told very few people about our November 4th nuptials. I don’t even think my brother and sister knew this. We chose this date because it also happened to be Reid’s grandmothers birthday. Cecilia passed when he was a teenager and with his own birthday being the day before, we knew it would be a day we’d never forget.

We have pictures somewhere, but I couldn’t find them today when I briefly looked for them. Mind you, this was before the iPhone and someone actually took film to the store to be developed, which seems unfathomable nowadays. I’m sure my heart will swell when I find them one day.

I’m grateful for everyone who was there to witness our marriage that afternoon, but my heart is extra-grateful for the presence of my great-grandparents. Mama Dot and Papa Fred were precious to me. Mama Dot was “my person”. They showed up in their Sunday’s best and I could see the joy on their faces as they watched us marry one another. They really did love my husband.

Papa Fred gave us this as a wedding gift. I’m pretty sure he cut it out of the Readers Digest. And I’m also pretty sure it was the only gift he ever gave me all on his own. He loved Reid, and he was happy that I was happy. He was happy that I was starting a life with someone he knew would love and cherish me as he had for my whole life. He was proud to stand with us on that day eight years ago.

We knew they’d never be able to travel to Mexico. But what we didn’t know was that they’d both pass before our Mexico wedding ever took place. Papa died on December 15th and just 18 days later on January 2nd, Mama Dot followed behind.

I put their photos in a locket given to me by Mama Dot a year or so before she passed. My Dad had it in his pocket as he walked me down the aisle and handed it to Reid, who clasped it around my neck. They were there with me that day, and it couldn’t have been anymore special.

So, Happy Anniversary to you, babe. I’m sure Mama Dot is eating watermelon and watching “wrasslin'” today as she smiles down on us. And Papa is telling stories to someone and cracking jokes I’m sure.

What I wouldn’t give for one more meal around their supper table.

Counting blessings never seemed to come easy when you were only a phone call away. I sure do miss y’all. But I know that you know, Reid’s doing a fine job taking care of me. And you sure would love our girls.

Happy Birthday, Mama Dot

You didn’t like to make a big deal about your birthday. Looking back now, I realize that’s only because you never made things much about yourself in the first place.

I’ve needed to look into your eyes a lot of times lately. Looking there always kept me honest. Your eyes were soft and they cradled me. You wept behind your glasses as you’d take in my words.

We’d sit for hours around that table; you’d fidget with your leftover lunch napkin, rolling and twirling it through your hands. But you’d never take your eyes off me. Sometimes you’d close them, but I know now you were only trying to take my pain away.

There’s a picture of you in our house that I tend to go to when I need you. You were young, holding a guitar, in the middle of a field. And you almost smiled. You didn’t like to smile for pictures, and you didn’t play the guitar as far as I know. That’s what makes this picture so amazing. Someone captured you out of your comfort zone, a place you didn’t go often.

But that picture, it saves me. Something about it allows me to connect with you unlike the others. To have known you at such a young age in your life, at a time when you were so wild and free and innocent. I imagine what you did on the day you took this picture. Who was behind the camera? And what you did after you posed for this one photo?

You were the safest space I ever knew. I’d give anything to be around that table with you again and to share just one more tomato sandwich, one more bowl of vegetable soup, play one more hand of Uno, wrap one more Christmas present, send one more sympathy card, or hold your precious hands just once more.
You saved me. And you still do.

I’m so grateful you got a wild hair that day and decided to pose for this picture, and I’m so glad you were born. I’m sending you the biggest “wowee” kiss in heaven today and appreciate you staying with me over the years. I feel you here, and I like it.

Happy birthday, Mama Dot. I love you a bushel and a peck.