Fifteen years ago today Christina and I exchanged marriage vows under the shelter of picnic pavilion, on the side of Lookout Mountain, near Mentone, Alabama. A bunch of my Vietnam Vet buddies “reserved” the entire area for the wedding shortly after sunrise, though the sort-of-planned celebration didn’t begin until late morning. You see, I told them the area couldn’t be reserved, and was available only on a first-come basis, so naturally they were the first ones there.
The wedding was a pot-luck, bring a dish, bring a chair, affair, and those details were printed on the one hundred plus invitations we sent to friends, more as a “notification” than a call to action. Needless to say we were rather surprised when well over a hundred people showed up: one couple from New Orleans, another from Canada, one of Christina’s best friends, also from Canada, my barber, Vietnam Veterans Southern Command, my aunt, uncle, and cousin, Christina’s brother and sister-in-law – in short, a rather motley crew, to say the least.
I cannot begin to tell you in any meaningful way how courageous my wife is. However, I’ll take a shot at it. I had been married three times when we met. Most people think I’m a nice guy, and most of the time, I can pass as one of those. But it’s a show. I am not a nice guy. Imagine George Clooney in Michael Clayton and Tommy Lee Jones in The Valley of Elam, now multiply that intensity times three, and that’s me on a normal day. Then there are high intensity days. I can be scary and I have references who will confirm that, if they can do it anonymously. Well, you get the picture. Christina knew that and signed on anyway.
Christina Lee Bell gave up her beloved Canada, her home for more than twenty years, all of the friends she had made during that time, and helped me load all her things, in a U-Haul trailer, hitched behind my red Jeep, and move her south, across the border, to north Alabama, where she immediately discovered that a translator was often required to just interpret a simple question like, “Sweeeetea, honey?”
Seriously, this is a special day for me because I’ve always known that one day I would find a woman who would love me as much as I loved her – and I did find her, and she does. And what I’ve always suspected is true – with the right partner, there are no limits. I also know that when the two of us finish this earthly manifestation, we will fly away on “wings of glory,” to another place, and there we will do it again.
Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart.