White Dog impatiently stood on me. "Get UP! It is time to smell the roses!" I sat up, confused. "Her head is still sleep fuzzy," WD told Steve and the rest of the White Dogs gathered around the bed. "Best bring everything in here."
They all filed out of the bedroom and I started to slide back under the covers. "Oh no, you don't!" said Zsofia as she jumped up to sit next to me.
Steve came in carrying roses and WD plopped a scroll into my hands. "Where did these come from I asked?" It was barely 6:30 and I knew they were not part of our landscape when we had gone to bed last night.
"They are to celebrate your anniversary. A present! Smell them! They are from dad and the scroll is from all of us." The red roses were fragrant and beautiful. I set the vase on the headboard and unlaced the ribbon from the rolled paper.
White Dog jumped back up on the bed and nosed Zso with a growl. Zsofia pulled her head back from the vase, "I was just sniffing them," she complained.
The scroll contained electronic tickets to Aida, my all time favorite opera. It is to be performed by a national company next week at our Hispanic Cultural Center. I coveted those tickets but feared the recent hot water heater replacement and Ferguson's vet bills had made going impossible.
"Surprise! Happy Anniversary!" the White Dog Army howled and Steve kissed me.
WD moved between us. "Tell us the story of the day you and dad got each other," she demanded. WD has heard the story a million times but she is a romantic at heart; the others were fascinated and got comfortable around us.
It was very cold the morning we were wed, I told them. "No, them then it was freezing and the ground was slick with frost and sprinklings of snow," White Dog corrected. Dad and I chose to have our ceremony at a beautiful pine forested Boy Scout camp in Michigan, I continued. It gets very cold there in the winter and often there is snow on the ground before the leaves are done falling.
We invited all of our friends and family to join us in the woods for a celebration in an open air chapel that overlooked the lake. Our artist friends had created lovely banners that fluttered in the trees. Our musician friends had written and chosen special music to play for the ceremony. Several friends had written or picked literature passages to share. It was very magical and amazing as the early morning sun sparkled on the water and filtered through the pine needles.
But it was VERY VERY cold. The flowers were wilting from the shock of being so cold. The musicians kept their hands covered with gloves when they were not playing. The minister performed the ceremony wearing a bright blue parka and fishing waders. Many of the women had chosen beautiful party dresses that provided little warmth so we handed out blankets for huddling together.
Momma was warm because I was shaking in fear wondering if I was sure I was ready for this kind of change to my life. Dad was calm and at peace in his warm woolen tuxedo. He did not know until after the ceremony that I had looked at the distance to the ridge in the woods and calculated whether I could make it up and over before anyone caught me.
"But you did not really want to get away, did you momma?" Benson asked me. "No, sweet boy, but I knew this was a decision I would make only once in this life and I wanted to be sure, surer than sure, that I believed in my soul that I could forever keep the promise I was about to make."
"And you did, right?" Nilla said. "I looked at dad standing just at the edge of the woods with the morning light washing over him; he was so steadfast and ready. He gave me strength and I knew that forever it would be so. At that instant my scaredness was replaced by the joy of knowing what an incredible miracle was about to occur."
"And then we came along." said Sachi. "Well, you all were a bit further along in our journey. Dad and I were married thirty-five years ago." "Wow! that is even older than Puff," said Yo who turned to his sister and said "no offense." "But we certainly started down the road that would wind and twist and lead us to each one of you and to the family we are today."
"I am so glad you and dad got each other," White Dog cheered. "But I think it was no accident. It was meant to be. Happy 35th Anniversary!"
Just then Steve hit the remote and our wedding song began to play over the speakers...