They had been a couple for more than twenty years. Each having been married before, tying the knot in front of a judge or minister didn’t appeal, but their relationship was committed and solid. Not until two months ago, when ill health and inheritance laws made it mandatory did thoughts of a wedding intrude. She, too sick to walk down an aisle, stayed in the van in the Dollar General parking lot while a designated official did the honors.
Enter two families. In the intervening months a small miracle had occurred. She was given a new medication that bought more time. Family was coming, both his and hers, to make sure that this Thanksgiving was one to remember. The suggestion was made that right before dinner would be a good time to really celebrate their vows. After all, one of the relatives was a minister, more than happy to do the honors. Two others were musicians with banjos at the ready. We already had the feast planned. The perfect lakeshore was only yards from their front door. Her father was there to give her away; her sisters were there to help her dress. A favorite niece was thrilled to be the flower girl.
One group of family decorated the house with flowers and candles. Another went to buy a wedding ring. I found the grocery store and bought the only cake not decorated with Thanksgiving turkeys. The bride’s choice of processional music was discovered in a neighbor’s CD collection. The couple’s old Jack Russell agreed to be the ring bearer.
They were married again as the sun set. The bride, who until recently had not even been able to stand, walked down the aisle on her father’s arm. At the most solemn moment of the ceremony a trio of sandhill cranes flew across the lake and into the sunset, calling as they flew, as if in blessing.
I have attended many weddings and many Thanksgiving dinners. I will likely attend more. This Thanksgiving will always be one of the truly special ones. In the midst of uncertainty, two families, nearly strangers, joined together and made sure there was much to be thankful for.