Thirty-nine years ago today, Cliff and I tied the knot. We had known one another for about six months, and dated less than three months.
My mother was staying up nights, guarding my apartment, every time Cliff was there. She lived some twenty miles away, but she'd drive to Independence and park about a half-block away and just sit in her car. I was twenty-one, but I was her only baby girl. One night we looked out the window to see her little Ford Falcon there in the dark, and Cliff said, "Well, we could get married."
That was my proposal.
Cliff had a brother and a sister who'd already had failed marriages, and I'd heard his mom make the remark that she wasn't signing for even one more of her kids to get married. Now, back then, women had to have a parent's signature at age eighteen, if they wanted to marry; and men needed parental consent until age twenty-one. Taking his mom at her word, we decided to wait until Cliff was of age, on June 16.
Melva, Cliff's mom, knew we were going to get married, and asked what we were waiting for.
"Cliff isn't twenty-one yet, and you said you weren't signing for any more of your kids to get married."
"Oh. Well, I'll sign for you-uns."
And that's why our anniversary falls on June fourteenth... two days before Cliff's birthday, on June sixteenth.
Our wedding was very simple. We were neither one attending church at the time, but Cliff's older brother, Phil, and his wife were. So we got the phone number of their pastor and called him up; with our two witnesses (Cliff's brother's wife, Faye, and his mom) we made it official.
I recall the preacher saying, "What kind of ceremony do you want?"
"The shortest one you've got," was Cliff's answer.
I've never regretted any of it, although perhaps Cliff has, a time or two.
As for the tiny, impromtu wedding, I've always hated big weddings. Still do. I had just the sort of ceremony I'd choose again.
And just the sort of man.