My amazing Bill had even given a piece of twine to Delores! Of course, my head started hurting as soon as they drove me off in her mini-van. I had honestly forgot about this detail, but my Bill had already taken care of that for me. It did hurt, just not real bad since my long hair got tied back into that tight pony tail. Bill goes out of his way to cherish me like that… I was mostly a mess, and cried a lot the rest of the afternoon. But this is what I can remember. And, it didn’t take long for that amazing tune drifting in and out(2)… Well it seemed like it got just a little louder.

First, we went to one of Edna’s other friend’s houses, and they did their best to get me dressed, and looking like a bride should. Most cried softly; I was wearing Edna’s bridal gown! Of course, they didn’t actually see Ed and Edna get married. That happened in a place called texas, wherever that is. And I had more clothing on now than I ever wear, but it all looked amazing.

After they had that beautiful white dress on me (it fit amazingly well), and a pretty flower pinned to the front and everything else, Delores took both my hands… “Oh Maude, Edna would be so proud of you… She expected something like this to happen at some point, and she even told us where to find her gown. She wanted you to wear it… for her. She told us over and over that, in her final days, you brought out the mother in her, so much joy that she had never before experienced. Maude, she loved you so much!”

Well, I loved Edna a lot too, and her death, that really hurt. I cried because of that. I think we all did, we cried together for Edna. A few minutes later, one of Edna’s other friends smiled and said “Edna is in a better place now. I think she would want us to help you enjoy your day, Maude!”

I didn’t stop crying, but I cried for my Bill. I missed him tons already. And whenever I asked when I could see him again, they always said the same thing: “A little later, dear.” Even after they got me all dressed, they still said it would an hour before we went to our next stop. I just sat on the couch there and tried not to cry.

I think maybe Delores had… Kacey and Tina walked in soon after. Kacey was already crying. “Maude, you look so beautiful…” We hugged right away, of course. Then Kacey… “Oh, Maude, I can tell Bill is so good to you, for you…” then we hugged and cried together for a few more minutes. If only she knew… At some point during that time, Tina slipped a bead thing over my right hand up to my wrist. White and yellow, with the letters “beautiful”. Tina had made me one before, I just don’t remember where I put it…

Still, Delores walked up and said “Kace, you need to go get dressed.” Delores handed Kacey a few boxes and Kacey headed into a nearby room to get her pretty clothes on, I guess. Delores hugged me from the side and said quietly “Kacey absolutely wanted to be your bridesmaid. She drove all the way from school just so she could…” I just hugged Delores. I could think of no other person besides Kacey that I wanted for that…

Well, I stopped and hugged Tina, too. It just seemed like she was growing up so fast, even since six months ago when I stayed at their house over christmas. I thanked her for the bracelet, and hugged her again. I told her I wouldn’t even take it off this time! Tina and I sat back on that couch, and Tina talked a while about school, craft projects, things like that. Like last time, I just listened. But it helped the time pass quicker. And Kacey came out looking so pretty… I jumped up and hugged her again, and thanked her. She was wiping away tears, too. Then the three of us sat back down on the couch together. Kacey told me a little more about school and stuff. And she mentioned again that my picture still drew comments and such. Well, I stopped Kacey, and thanked she and Tina both for helping me see that I really was beautiful. I softly mentioned that I doubted it at the time, but my Bill tells me that over and over… I said I will never get tired of hearing him say that! Well, then I told them both that they are very beautiful girls, too. I honestly felt that way. I think that made us all cry briefly. But I was glad Kacey and Tina were with me. Still, the time passed so slowly. I just wanted my Bill back!

The next stop was the church, someone told me. That’s where we would get married. We were on our way soon after. The building looked vaguely familiar, even though I couldn’t remember much past when Edna found me on her back porch. And the last time I was there was right after Edna died, and I was such a wreck then, and remembered very little. The church was kind of big, and had a big room; Delores showed me the place up front where we would get married. That scared me, because I didn’t like the thought of being up front with all of the people watching me… There were a lot of chairs in that big room. But they didn’t even let me stay out there, and wait for my Bill. They walked me into a small room near the back of that church, and we waited some more. I cried on and off. Tina smiled at me often, to cheer me up maybe. Kacey cried on and off with me. I hugged them both.

But when my head stopped hurting… I got up, jumped up right away. I knew my man was close. But they still wouldn’t let me go to him. That was so hard for me… Delores put her arm around me and said quietly “Maude, this is just the way it is done. You will be with your Bill soon. Just try to be patient.” Maybe I was having problems with patient. Well, I took my twine out anyway, and Kacey quickly used her brush to brush out my hair. That was ok, I just wanted my Bill to do it. I tried to be patient. But I think the longer I waited, the more I cried. Well, Kacey used her new cell thing to take a few more pictures. I tried to smile, with tears still falling…

And another lady came in and told us how the wedding would go. I don’t know how well I listened. She said a lot, gave Kacey, Tina and I a bunch of directions, and I think I cried because I would never remember all that. The lady took her time, and explained carefully, and when she was done, she asked me if I had any questions. I just looked at her, then she smiled, and left. Delores had heard everything, and came over afterwards, took my hand and sighed. “Maude, just don’t go down the aisle until that lady tells you. And remember Tina and Kacey will walk slowly down first. Then just walk very slowly down to your Bill. I think he will take care of the rest.” That made a lot more sense than what that other lady said. Well, I was a complete mess, and I think Edna’s friends realized that. Nobody seemed surprised.

They had a loud musical thing called the organ, and Delores said that, when we heard the organ start to play, we only had to wait a little while longer. I just sat down on one of the chairs, and cried some more. One of Edna’s friends got me back up, and fidgetted with my dress, so I just stood next to Kacey and ended up crying on her shoulder on and off. Oh, how I wanted my Bill back… I tried to remind myself to walk slow though. But I didn’t know how this would go. I didn’t want to ruin my own wedding… If we had to wait and try it again some other day, that would just be so hard… Well, maybe not with plan b, I don’t know…

Far later than I would even admit, we heard the organ playing. The ladies made sure me, Kacey and Tina ready, and led us into this long hall, that ended out in front of the church. Through the window in a door, I saw my Bill! He looked so handsome! I am pretty sure he was wearing what Ed wore to Edna’s wedding. I didn’t care, he looked amazing. I started crying all over again, and it was all Edna’s friends could do to settle me down, to quiet me down. And Delores took my hand and held it tightly. That was the only thing keeping me from busting through those doors…

All of a sudden the organ was playing really loud. The other lady waved us over, then sent Tina through the doors first. Tina walked real slow. Kacey went next, and did the same thing. The lady who gave directions waved me over, and Delores and I walked to the big doors together. She put this screen thing down over my eyes, I don’t know. Then she hugged me and said quietly “Walk very slow to your Bill. You have waited this long, let everyone else get one last look at you before you are his forever!” That thought… I just melted… The lady opened the door, and pointed me through. I looked at my Bill, tears started flowing, then I walked very slow towards my man. Yes, take a good look everyone, especially you salesmorons, because I belong to Bill now! I wanted to say that, but I didn’t. A bunch of the ladies cried as I walked by. And I realized as I walked down that wide pathway that the big room was packed… I didn’t know where all these people… It didn’t matter, I kept my eyes on my Bill…

Bill stepped down and took my arm. “Hi, Beautiful” he said quietly, and I just melted, and cried even more. But I was with my man. I tried to settle down, and remember some of the other stuff the lady had said. The man called the pastor who actually married us, he was very patient, and walked both Bill and I through what we needed to do, to say. I did the best I could, I think. Well, like I said, Bill was right next to me. And he helped me out a bunch too. And when the pastor got to the “Do you take…” part, I yelled “I do!”, and tried to kiss my Bill. That was hard through the net thing. Bill kissed his finger, and put that on my cheek. I guess that meant we had to wait a little longer. I don’t know, the pastor said a lot of stuff. But finally… “You may now kiss…” I looked up at my Bill as he carefully pulled that net thing away from my face. I looked at him with eyes full of the most amazing wonder. My man kissed me… Oh wow, did he kiss me! No wonder we were saving this! I about fainted, I think, and was quickly a crying mess again.

As everyone clapped, Bill led us down that path where I came in, then out, and into a small room. The pastor came in, and we both thanked him. Then he signed a piece of paper, and handed it to Bill. Bill looked at me, about to cry himself… “Maude, we are married now…” I burst into tears, and we hugged and cried together…

Kacey wanted more pictures. Still crying, holding my Bill tightly, we waited for everyone to leave the big room. I had my man back, finally, and we were married now! Not much else mattered. Kacey had Tina use her cell to take pictures, and Kacey arranged everyone like we were on that platform in the big room, well a few different ways. That part didn’t take long, and we were soon done. Kacey walked up to me, crying again herself, and we hugged a few minutes more.

Still crying, we met with everyone who had come to our wedding, but in another big room. Most were surely Edna’s many friends, and I recognized some from the Diner. And there was the most beautiful cake in there, with Bill and my name on it, and we cut it, and shared some of it, and everyone else had some too. Then Bill and I walked around together and just visited for a while. My man and I… That was such… I could get used to that now. The cook was Bill’s best man, and we thanked him too, and sent him off on his vacation (he laughed). And Kacey, the best bridesmaid in the universe, she and I hugged and cried together for a little while. I thanked her a few times for being such a special part of Bill and my amazing day. But I guess she needed to leave, and drive back to her college. She had driven all the way here, just for today. Her leaving made me cry more. She is such a sweet friend…

Wow, I was tired, I was getting late. People would come up, say congratulations, hug us, then leave. Soon, it was just Edna’s friends and Bill and I. Well, Tina stayed with Delores. But Delores was crying… She took my hands again, and slowly said this. “Edna used to… The Diner was always closed on sundays because Ed and Edna came here, to this church, every sunday. Rain or shine, good weather or bad, they were always here. When Ed died, Edna still kept coming, although we gave her a ride the last year or so. But when you came… Edna told us repeatedly that she couldn’t come because… Maude, Edna said you were her ministry. She said you were her Ruth. She stayed home from church on sundays so she could be with you, so she could help you. That meant so much to all of us. Edna was just so willing to help you any way she could. She didn’t think there was much else she could do here on this planet, but when you showed up on her back porch, she said she was the only one that could help you. We all understood…” Well, I didn’t understand all of that, but we cried together for a little while. I guess that was a part of Edna I just didn’t, don’t know about. But it was clear Edna sacrificed a lot for me. I cried. Like I said, I still missed her.

On the table where the cake was, there was a big stack of wedding presents at the other end! Delores said she would bring them by our house in a few days. Edna’s other friends hugged us then left. Then Bill and I, Tina and Delores, we all headed to Delores’ house to have some dinner together. Then Delores would take Bill and I home. I was very hungry, and dinner was very good, meatloaf and potatoes, I think Delores said, and a few other things too. I ate quite a bit. Bill smiled and said I earned it. We also saw Delores’ husband Victor again, and Delores introduced Victor to Bill. Well, I felt bad for Victor. He was pretty big, and did have trouble getting around. He seemed nice though. And Victor talked with Bill a few minutes, too. I think that was good.

At about the same time we would usually be getting home from a day at the Diner, Delores dropped us off at Ed and Edna’s farmhouse, now Bill and Maude’s house. We hugged Delores and Tina, and thanked them again. Oh, my goodness, my Bill and I were married now! I cried a lot about that as we all hugged, and thanked them again. They got back into the mini-van and drove off.

What a long day… But Bill and I were finally married! With our wedding clothes still on and everything, Bill swept me off my feet (picked me up), walked up to the front porch, then sat down on the swing with me in his lap. I wrapped my arms around his neck, and we cried together for quite a while, easily until long after dark. Plan b was the furthest thing from my mind. This amazing, kind, considerate, devoted man was ALL MINE! I think Bill felt the same way though. There would be plenty of time for us to enjoy the fire we now actually could lovingly create in each other’s bodies. I was just so overwhelmed that… my man had done it. Bill had gotten us married — far earlier than I ever thought possible! I would not have wanted to wait another day!

After crying softly together, Bill calmed down, so I tried to calm down too. Bill looked so lovingly into my eyes. “You are stuck with me now, Maude” he said softly. I started crying all over again. I wanted nothing more out of life right now, then to spend forever stuck with this man!

Before I could say anything because of my crying, I got out “Bill, I can’t ever leave you…” Bill was quickly crying at that. Again, I think each of us said what we both felt.

We spent our first few hours together, as husband and wife, hugging and crying together as Bill gently rocked us back and forth on Edna’s swing. Overflowing gratitude, continually deepening devotion, helping each other any way we could, spending close time together… Neither of us could remember much further back than a little over a year ago. But today, our amazing future together just seem to stretch forward in front of us. We cried together on that swing until very late.

————————-

1. Maude: Meanderings is copyright 2017 by Shysage.

2. “Angelic” from the “Exodus” CD copyright by Andy Hunter. Please purchase this tune, and play it in the background as you read.

 

 

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