As I started my walk down the aisle, I heard my dad whisper in my ear, “Are you okay?” I must have said “yes” because we kept walking in time to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major.
Later, I asked him why he was worried about me. He chuckled and said, “You were shaking like a leaf.” Twenty years later, I’m still not sure why I might have been so nervous. After all, waiting at the other end of the aisle, decked out in his dress uniform, was my soldier…my soul mate…my best friend.
When we were finally standing together before our family and friends, he smiled at me, surely enamored with my dazzling appearance in a beaded, lace gown topped with a little pouf of a veil. I grinned right back, realizing once more that a man in uniform is truly a marvelous sight to behold.
We giggled through the sermon. I don’t recall what the minister said that set us off, but at that moment, we were in our own world–two young people with shiny new college diplomas getting ready to start our lives together. In two days, we were packing up our meager belongings and driving from our hometowns in western PA to Fort Benning, GA where my new husband would start his career as an Army Infantry officer, and I would begin to learn how to gather the mysterious strength of an Army wife.
A week earlier, I had declared that we would write our own vows. This, I decided, would be my stamp of originality on our special day. The minister, having seen too many couples succumb to the pressure of the day and forget their own names, let alone entire paragraphs of text, insisted that we tape our original content to the inside of a pretty white book. I agreed to the scotch taped crib notes, but I never once looked away from my soon-to-be hubby as I recited the words I knew by heart…in my heart.
“When you asked me to become your wife, the only thought in my mind was ‘yes.’ The thought of sharing a life with you–the good times and the bad–filled my heart with joy, and today before God, our family and friends, as we begin that new life together, there are so many things I want to say–so many promises I want to make.
First, I promise to always have a smile for you. I want to laugh with you when you’re happy and comfort you when you’re down.
I promise to be supportive of your decisions, your goals and your ambitions. And I will not be jealous of your time away from me.
I promise to be strong for you and our family. I will be supportive of the changes that may come our way, and I will be open to new possibilities.
I promise to listen to your opinions, and I will not try to change you in any way. I want to love you for who you are, and I want to know you as deeply as one person can know another.
I promise to always hold you deep in my heart whether I kiss you good night and wake up in your arms, or whether I close my eyes and blow a kiss to you in whatever far off land you are. For the rest of my life, you will always be the first thing I think of when I wake up.
Today, I promise you the best of everything I have to give–my heart, my soul, and most of all my love.”
Knowing what I know now, 20 years after reciting those words, I would have answered my father’s question at the top of the aisle with an enthusiastic, “Yes! I’m excited, and I’m shaking with anticipation of the adventure that starts right now!”
It has been an amazing journey so far. From PA, we headed to Georgia then on to Fort Hood, TX, where our incredible son entered the world and joined us for the next leg of the journey. After our stay in Texas, we joined corporate America and returned to PA, then on to Massachusetts and finally the Bluegrass State of Kentucky.
Along the way, we’ve made several memorable side trips. We’ve ridden ATVs in Cabo San Lucas, MX and climbed aboard camels in Tangiers, Africa. We’ve lounged on the sands of the Virgin Islands and gambled in the casinos of Monte Carlo. We’ve walked the beaches of Normandy, France and strolled the Champs Elysees in Paris. And finally, we’ve traveled to Russia’s unforgiving Siberia to find our daughter and bring her home to our family.
When I said my vows 20 years ago, I really did not know what was in store for me, but I knew it had to be wonderful. How could it not be? With my husband at my side, I can travel any road before us and I am looking forward to all the adventures yet to come.
I love you, my dear hubby…then, now, forever.