Hank and I get married

Hank and I decided to get married. Something small and quiet.

After being a couple for eight years and with all those kids, it seemed the right thing to do. It never mattered in the other places we lived whether we were legally married, but in a small town like Worthington everyone knows everyone’s business and more importantly forms opinions about them. Perhaps something sensible and traditional about this New England town rubbed off on us.

I sent notes to Hank’s father in Philadelphia and my family so they would know. The date was Aug. 28, but we were not expecting them to attend or send gifts.

My parents gave me a wedding for my first marriage, with a white satin gown my mother sewed, which she keeps in a cedar chest in my old bedroom back home, and a reception in the basement of the church with a band. I was a senior in college, and my hippie friends showed up, my tribe, my father called them. My parents did enough.

Hank, too, was married before, for less than a year to a woman in Chicago. She had a baby, not his, and the wedding party went to a Polynesian restaurant where they had a strip show for entertainment.

On our wedding day, we drove to the home of a justice of the peace in Goshen. Win and Joan Donovan were our official witnesses, and the four kids, of course.

The JP performed the brief ceremony in the field near his home in Goshen while his young daughter watched behind a fence. Afterward we posed for pictures. Nate squirmed in Hank’s arms and the other kids were lined up beside us. My long dark hair was pulled up in a roll on top of my head and the fringes of a shawl Joan lent me hung gracefully. It was a happy moment.

Afterward we had a small party at our house. Word got out, and a few friends from Boston drove to surprise us. Some people, new friends, came from town. They brought us presents, a coffee maker, and gift certificates. I made enough food, and we had beer.

The weather that day changed, first hot and sunny, and during the afternoon, it rained and then something cold and frozen fell from the clouds. It was a signal, I was certain, our marriage would be as full.

The next day, we took the kids to the Cummington Fair, a farm fair with horse draws, a vaudeville act, and 4-H exhibits, and we joke still that’s where we spent our honeymoon.

Our wedding day with Nate, Ezra, Sarah and Emily.

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