This year marks the 10th anniversary of my wedding to W. As part of the celebration, I will be documenting our relationship from the proposal up to the wedding, and each year up to our 10th anniversary.
Even with the tanking economy and the added wedding expenses we were on a high. Between the bonuses and pay raises we managed to rebuild some of the reception’s budget. Things could still get worse before they got better hence saving was a prerogative. Our frugal plans were looking strong and the challenge of finding cool items that delivered a high quality experience at a lower cost made us realize how much money is wasted on pleasing guests. It wasn’t until late 2008 Q1 that the proverbial excrement materialized. We had an unexpected death in the family. My grandfather’s youngest sister had a myocardial infarction in late January, a few weeks after our Reyes lechonada party. The look of sadness he carried with him was brutal; as the oldest child he had buried five out of his seven siblings. We all felt his heart break as he said goodbye to his one and only baby sister.
A few weeks later, a lymphatic cancer diagnosis added insult to his injury. With the deposits already cashed in, moving the wedding up was not an option anymore. Practical me knew the only way my “papitito” – papi + abuelito, as I called him – would see me married was by eloping and visiting him as soon as possible. W must have sensed my despair because he agreed to a simple civil ceremony if we had it on 8/8/8. The media touted this triple same digit date as the luckiest and most prosperous date on the modern calendar. It wouldn’t hurt to test the theory, especially since 8 was our favorite number. Our friend from the engagement tale got ordained online through The Order of the Rose.com to officiate. He has gotten us this far, why not seal the deal and bless it? 🤭🤣🤓
On a very nice and sunny summer Friday we got married inside a conference room with eight of our closest friends, one an intern (wearing blue), a lasagna (something new) and an approved on site camera (something borrowed). Sadly those pictures died when my work laptop keeled over in 2009. 🤪😩 The Reverend got shy on us and skipped the entire vow exchange, replacing it with a very memorable: “Dearly beloved we are here to…you know what? Witnesses, just sign the damn paper we all know how this goes…let’s eat!” After handing in the completed license at the county, we took my sister to dinner at Black Angus, a tradition we had until the day the place closed down.
The next day we sent out an eVite to our Washirican crew and had about 40 guests show up to our improvised reception. Someone grabbed a fake flower from our decor and a garter W had caught at a previous wedding to get us to do a bouquet and garter toss in the middle of the dance floor aka our living room.
Facebook was starting to catch on and some of the highlights made it into my newsfeed. My family was in on it from the get go, and shared our antics with my grandpa who loved the email updates he was getting directly from me. W didn’t have FB and neither did his family so no one on his side was the wiser. A big chunk of the dread of not having one of my heroes at my wedding lifted. W still remembers the promise he made to him to take care of me, always.
From August to December we made a few trips (I had seen my grandpa in July before the elopement), saw the Phoenix Suns play at home, and witnessed the election of the first Black/African American president. I was at a supplier meeting in Germany which put a whole different spin on the event. At last we weren’t a retrograde country? These type of remarks were the extent of the message that came across. Hard to defend history and a culture that has oppressed your own for 100 years. However, the winds of change were welcomed. Maybe a woman, preferably my daughter, could be president someday. 😎🤔 The possibilities were endless. Not a bad time to embark on the journey of having children. A whole brave new word emerged…
Two weeks later my mother called me and asked us come home for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t a request. Her greatest fear was coming true: her strong and fearless daddy was losing his battle with the big C. Going into full crisis management mode, I told my husband to start booking flights. He turned to me and told me he wasn’t going. It wasn’t his grandpa dying or a close family member so he didn’t feel compelled to go. Excuse you!! This was followed by a “My family told me I did not have to go” and I lost it. Hell hath no fury like me that day. I called his boss, called my boss, used vacation and booked a two way trip for two. I was losing my father figure, the man who had inspired me to become and engineer and taught me the value of a book. There was no way my partner was going to bail out on me during my worst moment. For better or for worse…no exceptions!
I steadied my resolve and got my game face on; someone else’s till death do us part was coming up fast and none of us were prepared to say goodbye. Grandpa kept asking about the wedding, and it took me a few interactions to realize he was asking about his anniversary. My grandparents met at a wedding in NYC and shortly after he proposed to my 25 year old grandma on Time’s Square on New Year’s Day 1954. On Dec 11, 1954 they got married and a year later, on their first anniversary. my mother was born. This is why we loved December. It was full of celebration and joy. Thanksgiving went through without a hitch.I went back to the Pacific Northwest distraught and angry. W’s true colors were showing and I was already stuck with him. No returns…no exceptions
Three thousand miles away, my bedridden grandpa gave his daughters a few bucks to buy my grandma some flowers and candy for their upcoming anniversary. Awww 😍🤩🤗 Three children, six grandchildren, and four great grandkids later they had built a legacy three college grad levels deep. My grandma had thought she’d die an old maid and instead had found the love of her life stateside where she went briefly to test her luck as a Spanish speaking seamstress. It is a hard love story to beat and a lot to live up to relationship wise. They got divorced and remarried. My grandpa bought her a house and paid it off, thanks to his job at Eli Lilly. His retiree medical plan was killer and covered my grandma’s many conditions. They were meant to be. This imperfectly perfect match made in heaven may explain why the rest of the family has been so unlucky in love. They had their cake and ate it too.
On December 12th, 2008 the day after their 54th anniversary, my mom called me to tell me my grandfather passed. He had appeared rejuvenated, acting like his normal self. He was so happy! No one imagined that in less than 24 hrs he would be gone. Oh, how I had prayed for him to get to see me in my sparkly princess dress! I cried and as tears fell down my cheeks, I remembered him with a smile on my face. He would live eternal in my heart; his love and legacy forever intertwined with my life’s story. W supported my desire to make use our formal wedding as a vehicle to honor his memory and help my clan heal. I pretended to be brave for my mom and my sister, for my grandma, my aunt, my uncle and cousins. I got to work every day as if I wasn’t carrying a big hole in my soul. Due to the wedding plans, I had to miss the funeral. W’s family skipped the wake and my mom downplayed the offense. Benefit of the doubt? This was another big blow… The show, however, must go on.
Up next: The Wedding, Take Two.