Pure Bliss, Part 3
Urbanna, Va.— I should have known there would be big trouble adjusting to life with the Virginian. That’s the problem with “falling in love.” Once this happens, all rational thought is forever removed from the human brain. Blind love pushes us to the altar.
Still, looking back, I received lots of red flags. A major one came from my small town church, the First Congregational Church in Vermilion, Ohio. When I reserved the wedding date with the minister I learned the Virginian and I needed to have “pre-marital counseling.”
“What’s that?” I asked, not liking the sound of it. I wasn’t the sort to be counseled but rather preferred to learn life’s many tough lessons the hard way.
“It helps couples orientate to each other,” he explained. “It signals possible areas of trouble ahead. It’s better to know what problems might come up in the future then to blindly charge ahead.”
Of course, the good man knew very well that I was amongst the group he called the “blind chargers.” Also, Chip was at sea on his Naval ship and unable to come to Vermilion for pre-marital counseling sessions. My minster was not terribly concerned. He suggested that we each take the pre-marriage tests separately; I would simply mail Chip’s test to him on his ship. He would take the test and return it and the minister would sit down with me and compare answers. In that way I, at least, would be alerted to possible areas of conflict.
It sounded like a good idea so I promptly took my test and mailed Chip his copy. A week later I talked to Chip on the phone. “Did you take your marriage test, dear?” I asked.
“No,” he responded curtly. “I didn’t like the questions, much too personal! I should never answer such questions! My life is not the business of your church!”
What? What? “But, dearest, we have to take the test and be counseled as to find out if we are compatible.”
“Sorry. I made an airplane out of the test and shot it off the fantail of my ship!” was his answer. Now, if that wasn’t a gigantic red flag, I would like to know what was. Even a blind charger could figure this out.
The worst part of this was I had to go back to my minister and explain that the test I had sent to Chip had somehow been lost. There was not enough time to mail another test. So I did the pre-marital counseling by myself with the good minister. A lot of help that did to prepare me for my forthcoming marriage to a mule. A southern mule, perhaps, but perhaps in all fairness, I may have qualified very nicely as a northern mule? I can only imagine God was up there laughing at all the comic pre-wedding human antics on earth.
My church tried its best to prevent the kinds of shocks that came about on our honeymoon. I will get to that part of the story shortly. In the meantime the marriage ceremony and reception were over, and Chip and I bid our mutual families and friends goodbye and departed Vermilion for our first night together as man and wife.
Surely a more love-struck couple had never taken off from their wedding day before. We were headed to a swanky hotel in Cleveland for our first night as husband and wife. After that we would proceed to San Diego, enjoying a three-week trip across country to Chip’s new ship.
I looked back at family and friends bidding me farewell. Tears crested in the corners of my eyes. The entire Wakefield clan was in town for my wedding and they were scheduled to celebrate the 100th birthday of Grandfather F.W. Wakefield (who had passed away many years earlier) in the old homeplace the very next day. It was hard to say goodbye to family, hometown and all the people I loved.
No, I can’t pretend, even now, at age 75 and looking back at this time in my life and trying to capture the times and attitudes during my marriage that August of 1963, that it was easy for me to leave Vermilion. It is never easy to leave home yet most of us have to do this sooner or later. I suppose it’s a part of growing up, but it is painful. I looked at the Virginian that I had married who was now my husband and would be my partner in a new life. But for one dreadful moment he appeared as a total stranger to me and I wondered how in the world I could go off with him to California.
Was this all a dream? Was my marriage and departure from my dear hometown actually happening? O, farewell, dear Vermilion, Ohio! California, (and God knows what else) here we come! (To be continued next week)