Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air; common sense tells you it's a stupid way to live. (Proverbs 11:29, The Message)
Had a fabulous weekend a couple of weeks ago. I thought I was going to the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and catching up with some very old friends -- it was great but that was only a very small part of it all. It turned out that the reason behind the pressure to attend was that a couple I first met while living in a university college (1973, they insisted... a bloody long time ago anyways) was finally tying the knot and getting married. The outdoor ceremony was hilariously entertaining with, among other things the bride being given away by her eight-year-old grandson.
As there were no parents still with us to give the traditional speeches, both the bride and groom filled in. Both are professors in their 60's; their public speaking skills are well honed. With good humor the Bride answered the question we had all been asking..."Why did you wait so long?" It turned out that she was the daughter of a Methodist Minister who had absolutely refused to have anything to do with the man she "had sinned with". While she had been welcome in her parents house, her partner and children were not. In fact she was expressly forbidden to even speak of them -- something which caused great consternation when she went into labor on a visit and, as she put it, "The old bastard with the back-to-front-collar was bellowing to her mother not to ring the groom as they were getting into the car to go to the hospital". The manner of the telling made it seem very funny, but imagine the anguish it caused at the time.
She continued her speech saying that some people have different kinds of luck in their lives: some become wealthy, some famous, some get to do exactly what thy dream of. Her lucky break had been in the form of meeting her partner, from the time she invented a lame excuse to get him into her college room and clumsily seduced him, she couldn't remember a moment when she didn't feel married to him. Now, four children, five grandchildren, three mortgages, ovarian cancer, three years of surgery sessions to fix a badly broken leg (His) it was very easy for her to say "I do" because unlike 99% of brides there was no risk in her choice, She knew she had made the best. After all of that the "old bugger with the back-to-front collar"still refused to recognise their marriage and there was no way she would ever have a ceremony while he was around to witness it. That was why it took so long.
The marriage celebrant was forbidden to mention any deity in the ceremony. The Groom said that he regretted not being allowed to participate as a family but asked,"Who were the real losers? Our kids have all surpassed us and the old religious fool missed a golden opportunity to influence them with his god stuff when they were younger and impressionable. For all his judgmental ranting he ended up an impotent hypocrite". The eldest granddaughter went to her never met grandfather's burial and caused a stir by introducing herself, with the simple act of giving her mother a hug and calling her "Mum"... only after she had chatted very amicably with her cousins. This forbidden "child of a devil's union" has recently graduated as a specialist Physician. Apparently there were many murmurings that with the old padre out of the way, the family could get back together, but the happy couple are yet to receive an invitation and aren't about to hold their breath until they get one.
Peter and Robyn have been together for 40 years. Like all of us it has not been an easy journey and at times they have had to work very, very hard. How wastefully sad that this truly excellent example of a marriage had to be blighted by religious blindness and bigotry.
Here's to the Bride and Groom. As always, I wish them well.