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Our country has survived tragedy through love

After a particularly busy morning, coupled with living amid the chaos of a bathroom demolition, I thought I might treat myself to lunch at our local joint. I’m not a meat eater, but there I can get the best Greek salad around, or alternatively, eggplant parmesan, if I don’t plan to do any heavy lifting for several days.

As usual, having come straight from the barn, I was in my uniform of breeches, boots, a sweat soaked (now dried) t-shirt and baseball cap to cover my flattened ‘helmet’ hair, after riding. What wasn’t usual is that I stumbled upon a wedding reception.

“Oh!” I said to the waitress, “I didn’t realize you had a private event going on.”

“It’s not private,” she replied, grabbing a menu and beckoning me to follow her, “they’re just takin’ up about three tables.”

Indeed they were; there was the main table, covered in a white plastic table cloth, flanked by two similarly draped others, a smaller table which held the wedding cake, and a guest book, and an assortment of candles and small bells that adorned the place settings. I had never expected to witness a reception held between tables of neighbors and workmen, ordering pizza and Italian sausage subs and said so.

“I was told this was where they had their first date,” came the reply and that, of course, made sense.

As the wedding guests arrived, they took their places and began to order sweet tea or Pepsi and I thought they might wait for the bride and groom before placing their lunch orders, but as I overheard (of course I was eavesdropping, don’t play all high and mighty with me, you know you would have, too) one fellow say, “He’s gotta eat. With his diabetes, if he don’t eat, all the meanness’ll start coming out of him,” I figured they’d all been given the go ahead after leaving church.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m making fun of this wedding. That somehow, this reception, which may have very well been what their budget would allow, was unsophisticated and hillbilly, along with the now Mr and Mrs arriving in their pick up (parked next to mine), festooned with ‘Just married’ across the back window. That when the music track in the restaurant suddenly changed to play ‘Endless Love,’ it made me roll my eyes.

You couldn’t be more wrong. I was, yes, initially surprised, but over the course of a very few minutes, became utterly charmed. When it was announced, “Ya’ll, ya’ll, grab your bells, they’re about to come in,” and heard the tinkling welcome, the bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome and although they both looked a bit weary, they also were the picture of happiness.

And while I can’t speak for the rest of us in there, who lingered over our lunches to watch the event unfold, I can add that I was very happy as well. Because it was the afternoon of Sept. 11 and as horrifically memorable as that date has become, it was also encouraging and uplifting to know that our country has both survived and thrived in strength, in faith, and most importantly, in love. That while paying all due respect to those who have suffered and perished, we are also getting on with our lives, and in this case, beginning a new life, together, on a beautiful early autumn afternoon. Cheers and congratulations to you both. May your marriage be one long, happy, ever after.

Reach PAM STONE at pammstone@gmail.com.

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