My wedding day is a little bit of a blur. And it was a great day. But so many people and so much going on and so many moments that it is hard to remember them all clearly without the help of photographs.
But I totally remember my first dance as a bride.
And it wasn’t with my husband.
Or even my father, or brother.
I had quickly kicked off my heels and hid them underneath a table. Said my hellos and hugs and smiled until my face hurt. Someone ushered us through the buffet line and I piled my plate with hors d'oeuvres and headed to a table. But before I could pop a single shrimp in my mouth someone grabbed me firmly by the arm and pulled me onto the dance floor and into a jitterbug before I could protest.
It was my husband’s granddaddy.
A man I had only met about a few times and heard say about as many words. So I was a little surprised when he spun me around the dance floor.
Eventually that night I danced with my husband. And my dad. And probably even my brother.
But my first dance belonged to him.
And he spent the night dancing with anyone that would let him.
And after 91 years, we knew that he was fading. And on Wednesday, my husband got the call that he had finally breathed his last.
And so we ordered flowers and bought jackets and fedoras (because he rarely left the house without one) and packed our bags and went to say our goodbyes.
And we weren’t the only ones. Cars lined up and down the street and the little living room was packed. I know that his wife of over 65 years was full of grief, but she sure seemed to glow as her house filled up with her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. And when I walked in my husband was looking at his military medals, and other grandkids tried on his hats and the picture albums came out of the bottom drawers. And I couldn’t help but think about how rare it is to get everyone in the same room.Weddings and funerals. Beginings and ends. Celebrations and rememberings.
And there was lots of remembering.
And the funeral was the next day with full military honors. Stories and hymns and flags folded. Tears shed and flowers scattered. With taps gently playing in the background. And it was sad and somber. But also a celebration. Of a life well lived. In surviving. From farmer to prisoner of war to great grandfather. His legacy filled the church and eventually back to his living room.
And children don’t understand sad or the somberness of the day. As soon as they shed their dress shoes, they were ready to play. They wrestled on the living room floor. They played London Bridges. They stole candy off the table. They played in the potting soil from the flowers. They chased dogs around the living room. And his bride, who had just hours earlier bravely hugged his flag to her chest, held little people’s hands and sang “Ring around the Rosie” each time Tess cried “again”. And that night, the same night he was buried, four of his great grandchildren sang silly songs and danced in his living room. And I’m sure that is exactly how he would have wanted it.
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to mourn and a time to dance," Ecclesiastes 3:1-4