Thursday, April 07, 2005

Iowa III - The Wedding

The reason for my trip to IA was to see my friend Tina be married. She was married at First Friends Church in Marshalltown by a Pastor Thomas Vos. I think the pastor is from another church, but I was very impressed with his leadership over the ceremony.

I was very nervous about attending this wedding. Tina and I were once the closest of friends, and actually I spent most of my adult life sharing a home with her. We met in college and lived on the same floor of the dorm at the University of Akron. We eventually shared an apartment off campus and once we both graduated, we upgraded to a nice apartment in another city while we both started our careers. We both got tired of renting and decided to go in on a house together and so we bought one in Rittman, OH in 1991. We shared that house a few years, until her job moved her to Traverse City, MI. I followed her there when I was laid off from my teaching position. We lived there a year, and then moved to Marshalltown, IA in 1996. So Tina and I shared a home from 1986 to the very end of 1999. That's a long time! Anyway, we got along well, but at the end there were some tensions as we both started going different directions in life. These "tensions" were not ill feelings, or anger, or anything like that at was more of an awkwardness than anything. I had started living for the Lord and she, well, was not. It is that simple, but it made for a difficult situation and that is when I followed the Lord's leading to move from Marshalltown, IA to Tennessee.

When I left IA, T and I had become "distant". I still consider us friends, but it's so different now and hard to explain. I was really nervous about the wedding, because while I was wanting to be there, I was uncomfortable not knowing anything about her anymore. I didn't know the man she was marrying, and really haven't kept in touch much but for an email every six months or so. I left Marshalltown five years ago and we had become "distant" then, I didn't know what to expect now.

I was really anxious throughout the day Saturday and Katie and Deleana kept trying to help me relax. They couldn't understand what on earth had me so nervous, and really I couldn't explain it. I was not sure what to expect when I saw T again, let alone all of her family and friends that I once knew. At the same time I was excited to see everyone again, just not sure what to expect.

I arrived at the wedding about a half hour prior to the start of the ceremony. I immediately started recognizing faces, but couldn't always place names! LOL A woman came right up to me and gave me a big hug and said "it's so good to see you!" and I remembered Shari Grace immediately! She and I went to a lot of movies together, made DQ runs and each fall/spring I'd clean out her gutters for her. It was so good to see her. This welcome made me relax a bit, and then I saw Charlene Martin, one of the women in T's wedding party. I asked if I could see T and Charlene said teasingly "no! Hold on, let me check" and then she invited me into the room where T was dressed and having her picture taken in her beautiful wedding gown, hat and all. I gave T a hug and told her how beautiful she was. T hugged me back, but it was rather stiff I think because she was trying to remain "perfect" for her wedding. She didn't want to get a hair out of place. Anyway, she gave me some instructions that I needed as "gift attendant" and asked me to also head to the house to feed the cats and let the dog out. That was the extent of our "conversation" and I was disappointed seeing as though she and I had once been close friends, sharing intimate details of our lives, and now I'm at her wedding getting instructions on letting the dog out. The "awkwardness" was obvious, but this was her big day and I was just going to stay out of the way.

I saw her mom in there and gave her mom and big hug and said hello to a few other people in there that I haven't seen in five years. I was starting to relax a bit, but was most excited to see Irma. I left that room and headed back out to the lobby area where guests were lined up waiting to sign the guestbook as they arrived for the ceremony.

I then saw Irma! I headed right on over to give Irma a huge hug and it was so good to see her again. Irma is very important in my life because she is one of the women God used to draw me to Himself. She was a big part of my early Christian life.

Irma and I decided to sit together, but I wasn't sure what to do because I was supposed to be the "gift attendant" and receive the gifts as people brought them in. Luckily I had a partner helping, so Theresa told me to go on in and she would deal. I was excited to have a chance to sit and chat with Irma before the wedding. She and I went in and sat down close to the front on the left side, Tina's side, and talked.

I was amazed looking around at all the faces and especially how much Tina's nieces and nephews had grown! Oh my! I saw a familiar face at the end of the same pew I was in and wondered a minute who that woman was. The face was so familiar and then I connected her as the woman who was the funeral director for all of the dearly departed in T's family. I wasn't totally sure, so I asked Big, Tina's brother-in-law, who that woman was. He confirmed, it was Mary Ann Bauer, the "funeral lady". I had sat with T and her Grandmother and this woman while making arrangements to bury her uncle, and she was there for the death of T's other uncle and most recently her Grandmother a year ago. I caught up with Mary Ann at the reception and told her that it was good to see her at something a bit more celebratory! LOL

The wedding was beautiful, as I expected anything T would plan would be, and the pastor who led the ceremony shared a wonderful Christian message about God's intention for marriage. He also shared the gospel! It was unlike any wedding message I have ever heard! He literally laid out the plan of salvation! I was so elated! I really hope Tina was paying attention! I'd like to post some pictures of the wedding, but I'm new at using my digital and only managed to get some pictures of the floor and the back of Irma's legs, which I'm sure she wouldn't want me to post! It's that stupid delay! I press the button and expect a picture, instead the the thing flashes twice and then snaps! I can't get used to that!

After the ceremony I walked out with Irma to attend to the gifts. THEY WERE GONE! I said to Irma, "see, I failed at my job as a gift attendant! They've all been stolen!" Actually, my partner Theresa, had already packed them all up to move them to the country club where the reception was.

I followed Irma to the country club and joined my gift attendant partner, Theresa, at the gift table. I decided that we needed a more specialized name because we were entrusted with a very important job. We were sure to secure the cards and envelopes with the corresponding gifts so Tina and Jim would know who the heck the gift was from. (Note to self: *place card inside of wedding gift packages) We were armed with rolls of scotch tape and made sure nothing would be lost in transport. We were security detail!

Irma went into the hall and found a place for us to sit, but I needed to remain outside the hall, in the lobby, to receive the gifts as they poured in. I occasionally joined Irma in the hall because I got bored waiting for the wedding party who did not arrive until ONE AND A HALF HOURS LATER! Irma was astonished at how nervous I was. I was just nervous to be seeing Tina again and feeling really weird about not even knowing her anymore.

When Tina finally arrived, she asked "did you let the dog out?" I said "I thought I was to do that when I took the gifts to the house after the reception." T then slowly, with emphasis, said "ON THE WAY to the reception". Now that hurt my feelings. I didn't let it show and said "I'll go now". She asked "are you sure it's okay?" and I said yes and left immediately.

In all the directions that T was barking at me when I arrived as the gift attendant, she had asked me to feed the cats and let the dog out as well. Not a problem, but I missed the part about needing to go before the reception.

While Tina was giving the DJ instructions to announce the arrival of the bride and groom, I was getting in my jeep and heading to the house to take care of the animals. I couldn't help but feel slighted and dumped on. This person who was once my closest friend, is sending me off on a job during her reception! I was hurt.

It was weird going into the house I once lived in. Somebody else's stuff was in there! LOL But, it was fun to see Ashes and Oreo again too! (The cats)

I returned to the reception and enjoyed my time conversing with Tina's family whom I hadn't seen in almost ten years. We didn't have long to chat, but it was still good seeing everyone. All and all, my nervousness and worry was a waste of energy, but what I thought might happen, did happen. T and I picked up right where we left off...distant.

It is so sad for me to remember the close friendship we once shared, and now I feel virtually nothing. T is a stranger to me now. It is so weird. Time keeps marching forward, and things will never be as they once were. My heart hurts a little when I think about that.

The wedding is over and I pray that Tina and her new husband, Jim, will find the happiness in life and love that they have searched for. Most of all, I pray that they both will discover a Love so deep, so far, so wide that they won't even be able to fathom it! God is pursuing them and I pray one day they will acknowledge Him!

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