The anniversary of a major milestone in my life is about to happen. It includes not one, but two major life altering events that, together, changed my life forever. The week of June 21st marks the 25 year anniversary of these two events and the start of a new life.
Friday, June 21, 1985 was a chilly day, as I recall. Sweaters were necessary as we worked throughout the day for the evening’s festivities. I had been planning for this day since October of the previous year when Ronald presented me with my birthday gift – an engagement ring. I wanted a simple, small wedding that reflected me as a person and I wanted to do it all myself – or as much as I could!
It was a perfectly memorable wedding – exactly what I wanted! We decided to have the ceremony at the Cobblestone Church in Childs, NY, which was built in 1834 and stands as the oldest cobblestone church in North America. It is part of the Cobblestone Society Museum Complex. The reception was across the street at the Village Inn restaurant. The Village Inn is also rich in history in that it began in 1875 as a stage-coach stop along the historic Ridge Road – a main artery for stage coaches traveling between the Genesee and Niagara Rivers. Both are historic landmarks listed on the National Registry and held special memories for me as I grew up. So, it was an absolute perfect choice to be married there! We also utilized the Ward House, which was located beside the church and built in 1836 as the parsonage for the church and also part of the Cobblestone Society Museum Complex and a historic landmark. This was where the wedding party dressed and prepared for the ceremony.
I worked so hard and planned every detail out…..it was going to be a candlelight ceremony befitting the venue. There is no electricity in the Cobblestone Church, so we planned to light the sanctuary with the kerosene lamps throughout the church, have candelabras at the altar, and my bridesmaids were to carry floral arrangements with candles. The ceremony was set to begin at 9:00 pm so that the candles and kerosene lamps would set the perfect mood! The picture of it all in my head was amazing! The one detail I didn’t consider – the one important key to the whole atmosphere – was the date I chose! It was June 21st – summer solstice – the longest day of the year! At 9:00, when I had assumed it would be dark – or at least deep into dusk, it was still daylight outside! And the church had regular windows – not stained glass, which might have helped to filter the light entering the sanctuary…….but, then, that was probably the point when it was built – they needed a lot of windows to allow the sun to shine in to provide light for their church services! So, it wasn’t quite the effect I hoped for, but it was still beautiful and we still used all the kerosene lamps and candles and it was amazing! And, it did start to darken up some after we started, so it all turned out OK!
Maid of Honor, Debbie, fixing my dress inside the Ward House
Mom securing my veil
My brother, Kevin, and I – Ward House photo-op before the wedding
Ronald’s niece, Jennifer, waiting for the wedding
I made her dress for the wedding
Leaving the Ward House to go to the church with my Poppie
Poppie walking me down the aisle with my Grandpa looking on
The vocalist sang The Captain and Tennille’s
“There is Love (The Wedding Song)”
Right after we lit the unity candle
while the vocalist sang Chicago’s “Colour My World”
Flower Girl, Jennifer, and Ring Bearer, Robby – my new son – leaving the church after the ceremony
Ronald and I outside the church after the ceremony!
Me at the beautiful fireplace inside The Village Inn during the reception
A fun photo at the reception
So, I mentioned that the week of the 21st marks not one, but two, major milestones in my life. The wedding was obviously one, which was a compound one given that it not only meant that I was now a married woman at the age of 28, I was also a new mother of two boys – Robby, 7, and Dusty, 13. Robby lived with us full-time from the start – in fact, since before we were married, but Dusty only lived with us for a couple short periods. That combination is enough of an adjustment……but, there was more to come!!!
My new family – Robby, Ronald, me, and Dusty
Yes, there was yet another major life altering event that happened that week – we moved to Sanford, NC! In the weeks leading up to the wedding, I was not only busy with the wedding preparations, I was also busy helping Ronald with yard sales to lighten our load and packing up all of our belongings to head south. We loaded everything up on a friend’s flat-bed 18 wheeler and watched it head out ahead of us.
Then, the morning after the wedding, we loaded two cars with stuff we didn’t want on the flat-bed. And amidst teary good byes, Ronald, Robby and I got in the cars with Easy (our beagle) and Roxanne (our pet racoon) and pulled out of my Mom’s driveway to move to Sanford. When we arrived in Sanford a couple of days later (we made some stops along the way), it was incredibly HOT! The flat-bed was parked under our new car port waiting for us to arrive. We immediately started working to unload it — and since I was not accustomed to the heat and it was still cool when we left NY, I passed out cold!!! hahaha Welcome to the south!
Ronald and me with Roxanne at Mom’s a day or two before we left.
This was a gutsy move that I don’t know how I managed the courage for, but I guess I was fearless at 28! The place Ronald worked in Medina, NY closed down and his family had moved to Sanford some time before that. They told him that there were jobs in Sanford, so he decided to start over there. He asked me to go with him, which led to the wedding. But, it meant that I had to quit a job I had at General Electric for 11 years. As it turned out, they closed that plant not too long after that, as well, but I didn’t know that was going to happen at the time. I didn’t give it much thought, though – odd for me — I can’t buy a pair of shoes without pondering my options for what seems like eons!!! I cashed in my 401K and the voluntary contribution portion of my retirement and Ronald sold his Cessna 150 airplane, a ton of antiques, and stuff he didn’t want to or couldn’t take with us. And that is what we lived on for a while……..because, get this, we didn’t have any jobs to go to!!! We had a house – Ronald’s parents found us a great house and secured the loan for us (because we couldn’t get one on our own because we didn’t have jobs), but we just figured we’d get jobs to pay for it when we got there!
Our first Sanford home on Steele Street
It took a little longer than we had hoped, but we did find jobs. Ronald got his job first and then changed to a better one that he was at for over 20 years before they closed down early last year. I did some odd jobs for a while – a horrible job at Eagle Electric, which I quit after about a month to go to Hardees (don’t ask – it isn’t a pretty story), a floral designer job, and I even cleaned houses for a while. Then got a good job in Apex, where I stayed for a little less than two years until I got a great job where I still work 22 years later!
So, all that was 25 years ago. Many of my friends in NY took bets that I wouldn’t make it a year in the Bible Belt as a “Kool-Aid Mom”! haha Guess I fooled them – I adapted better than they thought I would. But, it was a huge adjustment that I had to go through — one day I was single and care free, the next I was married and a Mom, and the next I was moving to a new state with no job and no family or friends – except, of course, Ronald and his family, most of who I really didn’t know that well.
As for my marriage, well, unfortunately that didn’t last. Ronald and I were married about 9 years. I regret that we couldn’t make it work, but it wasn’t a total loss. We recognized we weren’t good at being married and agreed to split before we ruined the friendship. And that friendship blossomed and got stronger over the years. We are still the very best of friends and always will be!
I continue to struggle with the fact that my family is all still in Albion. It is extremely difficult for me – especially after my marriage failed. I came close to packing up and returning when my step-son, Dusty, came to live with us and caused a lot of problems for me – but, he decided to leave to go back to his Mom, so I didn’t have to make that decision. I also thought long and hard about moving back when I got my divorce – but, I had a good job, I was going to college, I had a ton of debt, and the job situation up home was really bad. I knew it wasn’t the right time to make the move and I wasn’t as brave about jumping into an uncertain situation as I was when I was newly married!
So, if I could go back and change anything, would I? No, not really. Of course, I hate that we weren’t able to make the marriage work, but looking back, I’m not sure what we could have done differently and I wouldn’t go back further and skip that part – there was too much good that I would have missed out on and I wouldn’t have my best friend now. I also hate that I am so far away from my family – but, I make that work by visiting as often as I can and by being in contact with my Mom daily. I always believe that things happen for a reason. Right, wrong, or indifferent, the choices I made in my life got me where I am today and made me the person I am today. Not just these choices — all of them from the earliest life decisions to the ones I am still making for myself. I take full responsibility for all the good, the bad, and the ugly — and think I did OK!!!
So, when next week gets here, I’ll be reminiscing and thinking about all that has happened in the past 25 years and wondering why it flew by so quickly on me! A quarter of a century of my life – gone in the blink of an eye – and, yet, filled to the brim with adventures, laughter, tears, and change……..and there’s so much more to come – hopefully a whole lot more laughter and a whole lot less tears, though!