3 Weddings & A Funeral

Love the song and tune to “Love And Marriage” by Frank Sinatra

Love and marriage, love and marriage,
Go together like a horse and carriage.
This I tell ya, brother, you can’t have one without the other….

A fairy tale. It was a fairy tale wedding, a day like none other. The setting couldn’t have been more idyllic, with the backdrop of the Drakensberg mountains of Southern Africa, Giants Castle in the distance. Our wedding on my parents farm, my home for nearly 20 years – held under cover of a marquee on the tennis court. You could say it was game, set and match!

Best foot forward. As the story goes, it had been raining as the guests arrived, one of them a next door farmer’s wife with expensive Italian shoes. Rumour has it they were bought especially for the event. Ruined they were, these shoes as she trod in the puddles on centre court that day. Not too perturbed, I’m sure, you see as many of the farmers in the district, this particular couple were not short of a bob or two. My shoes on the other hand (or foot, to be precise!) felt like Cinderella shoes. There was no red carpet, a mass of puddles instead, which I can only imagine had been frantically cleared away prior to the big day by family, friends and servants. There were two camps, two groups separated by an aisle; different, like ‘the town mice and the country mice’ perhaps? And never the twain did meet! ( I digress!)

Love – all important. It was a blurr; the entrance, the walk on centre court dodging the puddles & making the way down the aisle. What happened next was quite unexpected. (No the bride didn’t trip on the veil or the marquee collapse under the weight of water or indeed the groom get tired of waiting). A little old lady, we called her ‘Sister Bubbles’ burst out of the crowd from the one side to the centre aisle as the wedding march played. She threw her arms around me, the bride in a warm embrace, while the groom, Fred ‘George’ waited patiently. Our vows (written by us), the exchange of rings, the all important wedding kiss, signing of register, photos and cake followed in succession …

The horse and carriage. Waiting in the shadows under the tree near the court was our carriage, our transport to whisk us away. One would think the side that held the heaviest person, that that side would lift off the ground when negotiating a corner. To the contrary it was the lightest side wheel that lifted; so holding our breath we began the bumpy ride up the farm road leaving the guests cheering and throwing confetti in our wake. A fairy tale it was nevertheless and a childhood dream fulfilled.

Turbulent and testing waters. The days that followed were not anticipated and certainly not prepared for. From unemployment, to family pressures and constant moving from one rented property to another, six moves in our first year of marriage and 27 different homes in total of our almost 30 years together! Take that and add two kids into the mix!! Children love stability. They love a home and particularly, I believe, feel secure when the family stay together however difficult the circumstances may be. Picture this scene: Once we discovered a family living in a car at the supermarket car park in our home town. Adamant, to my way of thinking at the time, that the authorities should know about this, (well shouldn’t they?) children should live in a better place, be taken from their parents, if their parents haven’t the funds to care for them. Really?! A friend had her opinion on the matter of the family who had taken up residence in the car park. “No”, my friend debated. “It’s better that this family stays together, that they remain a family unit … no matter how poor … even if their car is their home.” So back to our story, first wedding and the fifteen years that followed, with pressure and struggles; particularly house moves and unemployment squeezing us to the limit, eventually leading to a divorce. It was a fairy tale that ended, was severed.

New life. A new life can bring hope and a fresh perspective on an altogether hopeless situation. Taking flight to another hemisphere, as the aeroplane took to the skies, like a ball of fire setting the African sky alight. Never again has it appeared so crimson – as I bid farewell to African skies. Africa has that effect on those who ‘catch the bug’, it’s a love affair that is heart wrenching to part with. Life goes on, they say. You’ll meet someone else. You’ll see … Truth is, absence makes the heart grow fonder and life without the person you’re meant to be with for the rest of your life is not the same. Divorce is cruel. It’s harmful to all involved. The children were to follow me, we agreed. And so they did. So began life as a single mom / dad – tough.

A year passed since the divorce, a gap year. Finally we were together as a family. ” It was the right thing to do “, this said to a dear uncle who supported us through the happy and sad times. He witnessed the ceremony, stood by us and saw beyond the failures to the potential, with acceptance which was frankly just what we needed – support at a crucial time. This was our second wedding – a miracle if you think of it! (We later learned that a whole church had been persevering with prayer and fasting for us to be reunited as a family).

Fast forward to a year before his death and George had the wonderful opportunity to walk his daughter down the aisle. The third wedding. Her wish. His delight.

So, as it happens, four anniversaries fall in the same month – December …three weddings and the planning for a funeral.

Conclusion. How do you sum up such a story, how does one conclude and find solace and rest with such sadness mixed with such gladness. (I ask, hoping for an answer!)

The bible is our source of strength and without God, we as a family would perhaps have had a different ending to our tale – I shudder to think. Psalm 46 says ‘1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling ….’

Two words, I’d encourage anyone facing similar situations (or worse) – Trust God.

Thanks for listening to our story. Take courage and be strong, till we meet again 🙂 Suz.

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