Saturday, March 8, 2014

#150 - Degrees of Loss

We just got word today that the priest who performed our wedding ceremony died recently after a long illness. I don't know his age, but I'm sure Fr. David was several years younger than us. Today, I also learned that a couple we knew that had married a few months before us had divorced after 20 years of marriage.

Teresa and I were the first couple married by Father David, a wedding Mass he performed for us in September, 1993, not long after his ordination as a Catholic priest. Thinking back now, there are lots of little things that stand out from that day.

I remember what a nice (and warm) September day it was with temperatures probably in the 80s and plenty of blue sky. I remember being glad I was able to scrape together the money to fly my mother and grandmother in for the wedding. I also remember trying to squeeze us all into my little Hyundai Excel.

I remember that Teresa and I decided that, while we wanted the traditional church wedding, we did not want the thousands of dollars in costs or debts that so many seemed to be incurring in order to live that dream. In order to make our dream happen, Teresa bought the fabric for her wedding dress, found the pattern, and paid someone $150 (as I recall) to make it. You'd have been hard-pressed to realize the dress did not cost five or ten times that much.

The rehearsal dinner was another area where we were able to have fun and save money. We booked a local barbecue place just outside of town. Everyone ate off of foam green plastic plates with paper napkins and, I think, plastic utensils, and no one said a word in complaint. It was fun, it was tasty (and traditional, in a Southern sort of way), and it was affordable.

Since we had friends with military shopping privileges, we were able to save a bit on the beer and champagne as well. However, to this day it still pains us to recall the fact that much of the beer ended up being dumped out. I think if we had known that was going to happen we would have stayed at the wedding reception longer and had more to drink. We did, however, end up with five or six cases of cheap champagne that took us years to drink.

I remember us buying most of the members of our wedding party Three Stooges-related gifts. We played Asleep at the Wheel's "Curly Shuffle" during the little get together we held to distribute the gifts. I also remember the fact that my best man, a non-Catholic, had to "suffer" through a full Mass, with all of the kneeling and standing that entailed. It was sort of my revenge for driving six and a half hours to be a groomsman in his ten-minute wedding ceremony earlier in the year.
The happy couple with Fr. David
Teresa and I wrote our own music for the ceremony so as to make it even more ours. I still remember Fr. David being a bit nervous since it was his first wedding (as well as ours) and launching into The Lord's Prayer, not remembering Teresa and I had written a musical version for the ceremony.

Ours was definitely a DIY wedding. (We did, however, hire someone to make a cake and provide finger food for the wedding reception.) We even put together the wedding reception music tape. Both of us having slightly twisted senses of humor, so it seemed only fitting that the first song at the reception be Billy Idol's "White Wedding." He was right. It was a "nice day for a white wedding."

We lost touch over the years with Fr. David, as we have with many of the people who blessed us with their presence that September day. Some, like my mother and grandmother and Teresa's father, have died. Others have moved to various parts of the country and out of our lives.

Although I don't have an actual count, I'm sure Fr. David performed many more wedding ceremonies and Masses after ours, no doubt becoming more confident and self-assured with each one. Teresa and I, though, will always be honored to have been the first.

We've lost Fr. David, but we retain the memories of that special day. Godspeed, Fr. David. May you find eternal rest.

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