Life is Heald: The setting for our wedding and proper perspective on life from the wife

This column is due in several hours and I’ve been staring at a blank page for so long, I now understand what it’s like to be on the business end of a “White-Out” brush. I just got up to make a glass of lemonade in hopes of clearing my head and I decided what we’re having for “Life is Heald” this week…leftovers. It’s leftovers night. That, or you go hungry. Sound familiar? It’s not really leftovers per se, it’s more like seven different attempts to make the same thing, in this case, a wedding cake, all thrown into the oven. Bon appetit.

My wife is the tenth of ten kids. Her parents had five boys and five girls. We’ve never actually spoken about this, but I think they were confused about how Title IX actually worked. Anyway, you show up on the back end of ten mouths to feed like my wife did, I don’t want to say the buffet of life was always out of food, but there were times when you waited a while for a clean plate.

As far back as I can remember, the wife had a job. Back in high school, she worked in a doctor’s office. Whenever I would call, she usually answered the phone. If no one was around, her voice was all “Blue Lagoon,” puppy love, Aunt Jemima, you get the idea. But if the doctor happened to be standing there, her voice was all “Ice Station Zebra” as she cryogenically asked, “Can you hold please?” I was on hold a lot.

The wife and I always knew we were getting married, but at some point, I still needed to pop the question. Home on break from college, I took her to the local landmark restaurant “St. George and the Dragon.” It was dark and romantic. I was wearing a coat and nobody had died. I ordered a bottle of champagne we both knew I couldn’t afford unless there was another plasma shortage. We sat next to each other in a booth. I poured two glasses of unaffordable champagne, leaned over, put my head against hers, told her I loved her, pulled out a ring box and handed it to her. She was already crying. She opened it. And there, right before her eyes, was the most beautiful….note that said, “Can you hold, please?”

In 1985, we graduated from college. The plan was to find jobs, save some money and get married. I found a job in Jacksonville. A guy that ran a political consulting firm and a graphics company hired me as his assistant. From where I sat, my only qualifications for either of these jobs lay in my ability, should push come to shove, to draw a picture of a donkey and an elephant. That’s it. Or the guy needed a friend. Looking back, if I had to guess, Mr. Rodgers probably had a prior commitment.

We had just saved up enough money for our wedding when they started printing my paychecks on latex. You make hiring decisions like the one that brought me to town, you’re going out of business sooner rather than later. I’m a good news, bad news guy. Nobody likes a paycheck they can dribble, but it looked like I could get as much time off as I needed for the honeymoon.

We got married in Naples in July of 1986. Sometimes, when romance is in the air, we’ll drive down to where our wedding reception was held, where it all began. If it’s our anniversary, we might get another bottle of champagne we can’t afford. Then, we’ll park the car, get out, walk around to the front, hold hands, lean our heads together and gaze upon….the vacant lot where the building that hosted our wedding reception burned to the ground. If the sun shines on it just right, or most of the bottle is gone, it can be very inspirational in a “things could be worse” sort of way.

So, in review…the book on the business that paid my salary, that helped pay for our wedding, stopped at chapter eleven. The restaurant where I proposed, St. George and the Dragon? Slayed. The building that held our wedding reception? Ashes to ashes. The pastor who married us? Dust to dust.

For the wife and I, it somehow all seemed appropriate because we weren't supposed to be here either. The wife’s mother had been told to stop padding the census after her ninth child, the doctor fearful she might subtract herself from it if she had any more. Good thing Momma Drake liked round numbers. Both are alive and well.

My parents had two children, one each in 1955 and 1956, and stopped. Seven years later, I showed up. "Have another kid" is noticeably absent from my parents’ “to do” list for 1962. And “Oops” appears to be the Disney translation of the actual transcript upon receipt of the news that the fetus known as Kevin had boarded a bus and was heading for Healdville.

But here’s the deal about the wife. The first ring I ever bought her was a promise ring when we were sixteen years old. You didn’t need the Hubble telescope to see the diamond, but calling it a diamond flake would not have been a comment on its quirky personality. Seriously, if this ring has smelled like "Cracker Jack," I would not have been surprised.

Over the years, the fingers of the wife have not gone unadorned, and for our twenty-fifth anniversary, I bought her the ring she deserved. I paid for it with some money I saved, a college fund acquired very grudgingly through the most expensive game of “paper-scissors-rock” the boys have ever played, and a kidney that I miss each and every day.

In the decades since we were sixteen, the wife lost the diamond in the promise ring, although it may have just dissolved. She still wears the ring. If you asked her to choose between the two rings, she couldn’t. It’s not what’s burned down or closed down. It’s about what’s still around. Kind of like leftovers.

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Kevin says his tenth anniversary was a rough one, ten being the year for tin or aluminum. He got confused and drank ten aluminum gifts. The wife was not happy. He can be reached at LIFEisHEALD@yahoo.com.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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