We arrived at the Uwharrie National Forest (North Carolina) in plenty of time to move into our little cabin and return to Oak Lodge for the beginning of the most unique wedding I have ever attended. It was designed to celebrate the union of not just two people, but two families. Entering the lodge, I noticed a clothes line with bright and beautiful aprons lining the walls. They hung merrily in a row and the ladies attending the wedding were asked to claim one of the aprons for their own. The bride's mother and the groom's mother spent considerable time making all of the bridesmaids' dresses, the groomsmen's shirts, the aprons, and table runners. The mothers had already had time before the wedding to bond, to sew, and to dream of the coming years. So upon our arrival, there was an ease of conversation, and comfortable levels of familiarity among both families. Every attention was given to our family dietary restrictions and I was touched by the mother of the bride giving so much thought to a menu that would meet the needs of so many people.
Wes, our nephew, and Lillie, our soon-to-be niece sat with the guests and enjoyed playing card games and interacting with everyone. Their desire was for everyone in attendance to have a great time, and they wanted to be a part of the fun as well. As they sat up late playing games, and enjoying the live music of brothers, friends, and cousins, they were making memories of their wedding weekend that I hope they will enjoy for a lifetime.
The morning of the wedding we all pitched in to help set the stage for the wedding. Aunt Jacqui's floral designs boasted rich colors of orange, yellow, and green. With handmade streamers strung, chairs set up, musicians practicing, tables set, and dinner in the oven, the bride along with her attendants dressed in the Maple Lodge and the men dressed in the Oak Lodge. There was a feeling in the air that was precious. The intentional effort on the part of the couple to unite our two families had worked so beautifully that I overheard the bride's brother say that he wanted Paul Burton in his wedding someday. Of course he said that just after Wes and Lillie opened the gift Paul Burton had made for them which was a handcarving of their two family crests mounted on a plaque with a sword and engraved Bible verse.
The ushers seated Paul and me in the outdoor chapel that had been created just steps away from Oak Lodge. As birds sang, Paul Burton and Conner (friend of the bride) played music on the violin and harp, and Colin and Jennifer sat behind us with our five grandchildren. Kathryn sat beside me holding my hand, and I knew she was loving every moment of the experience. I looked ahead of me at Mom and Dad, married sixty-seven years, and had to snap a picture to remind me of their years of faithfulness to each other which has set a good example for the rest of us. Words really cannot express what was in my heart after being cooped up in a hospital room for nearly a year. I felt a deep sense of gratitude and freedom just to be able to be in the wide-open space of that outdoor setting, and to share the experience with my whole family. It was also one of those memorable times that makes one smile for months afterward.
Qavah came down the aisle first and Paul and I cried. I remembered the day several months before when Lillie called me in Pittsburgh to ask if Qavah could be her flower girl. I prayed so hard for her recovery, and on the afternoon of June 8th 2013, when I saw that little peanut striding down the aisle tossing her flower petals, I could hardly see for all of the happy tears.
To God be the glory for the marriage of Wes and Lillie and the union of our two families. To Him be all praise for the beautiful sunlit day He gave to them, and to us. I'll take this opportunity to thank the Talbott and Templeton families for such a great experience. Elaine and Judy, I love my apron. Sometimes when no one is looking, I dance around the kitchen in mine. It's a dance of joy.