60 years ago today

When I was eight, my big sister got married.

I vaguely remember the day she brought a skinny guy home to meet our parents and endeared himself to six year-old me by giving me a Rupert Bear book. According to Mom, he asked her advice on that first visit about how to hang on to this smart and beautiful girl. Keep her interested, he was told. Don’t be so keen. Seems he took that to heart.

About the time she introduced her new beau.

I went deep into Mom’s cedar chest this week and there, below newspaper clippings, letters and family portraits, I found this: my flower girl dress worn exactly 60 years ago today.

A little messy, but not bad for 60 years old.

Turned out the skinny guy was a keeper.

I bet if I dug deeper into the cedar chest, I’d come up with a recounting of the marriage of Marilyn Ardley to Philip Clark.  Those were the days when local newspapers (ours was owned by my parents) carried detailed accounts of weddings: what the bride and her attendants wore and carried, who officiated, what the bride wore to leave on honeymoon, who attended from out-of-town and so on. If you weren’t a guest at a wedding you had reliable insight into what went on and local readers loved these pieces.

Mom in blue satin while attendants attend to the bride.

I recall going to Gibson’s in Victoria, the most elegant of ladies’ shops where service was impeccable, for Mom’s blue satin mother-of-the-bride dress. On the day itself, I would’ve been the first up the aisle and no doubt sprinted. The reception was held on the riverfront lawns of family friends and to depart on honeymoon, my sister donned a sleek smoke and heather dress.

My brother was an usher at our sister’s wedding. He died 18 years ago. The groom’s brother was best man. He died a few years before that. The maid-of-honour, my sister’s long time friend, died even earlier. So there aren’t many of us left to recall that sunny August 19, 1961 and my memory is sketchy. A lot of stuff has crammed into this brain in the years since.

Mrs and Mrs Clark. I’m the short one, our brother on the far right.

But here’s what I do know: that couple who vowed to stay together – and goodness knows there were bumpy times – has done just that.

A few months after the wedding, my brother jogged from his high school up to my elementary school to tell me our sister – I called her Mimi – was going to have a baby. Pretty heady social capital to carry from the playground back into my third grade classroom, and at nine I became an aunt.

Home was on the Cowichan River and from our deck we could see cars crossing the bridge into town. Mom, Dad, and I stood on that deck in 1962 and cheered as a white Volkswagen bug came into view, a diaper flying on the antenna.

Life together unfolded.

That baby, Nicole (pronounced Ni-coll by our family), was followed by a sister and brother.

There were moves, careers, kids, grandchildren, mistakes, gains, losses, and an adoring extended family.

Time gained momentum as time does and – boom – it’s 60 years since Marilyn and Phil Clark got hitched.

Theirs is a success story and I figure the secret lies in Mom’s early advice.

They kept each other interested.

Much love and congratulations to my big sister and her groom,

Your flower girl

20 Comments Add yours

  1. LINDA HUGHES says:

    Lovely piece G and it has been a long time! You were adorable (still are) and I could have picked you out in a line up of cute blond 8 year olds.Sent from my Galaxy


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, dear friend.


  2. marilynatlegacytelusnet says:

    Tried to call you twice – first time it rang four times and stopped; second time two times and stopped. Your “when I’m 64” brought be to tears. How lovely! Wow! You are such a great writer of soppy stuff. Thank you for honouring us with your writing for our 60th anniversary – a keeper for sure in our archival file. Love you! Mim❤❤❤❤❤


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Soppy stuff all comes out of love. Love you, my sister.


  3. Henny (Post) Chassar says:

    Happy 60 th anniversary 🥂🍾 a milestone not easily achieved by everyone congratulations 🎉


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Wonderful, isn’t it. Used to be just old people reached this milestone.


  4. Rick D says:

    A beautiful piece, Gery. This so so much about life and love, and the passing of time.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thanks, Rick. Exactly my intent.


  5. Marion Toffan says:

    Oh Geri, Sweet sweet sweet. Doesn’t get better. I remember those white jackets from weddings in the fifties. I guess everyone right across Canada wore them. Ah those were the days – you could put together a wedding party where the entire troupe matched. Not now ducky. We’ve gone individual. Yes everyone has passed away – dandelion fluff – every time I remember a past event – poof – no one’s left to share it with.C’est la guerre. M.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Dandelion fluff. Love it. Thank you, Marion. You know what they say, write what you know (or think you remember).


  6. Lynelle Spring says:

    I wiped a tear. And somewhere there’s a picture of me in a similar dress at age six for a very similar wedding. An indelible memory … brought back to life by your words and photos.

    So come to Meaghan’s baby shower on Saturday and we’ll get misty thinking about traditions and memories carrying on. Xoxo Lynelle


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you , my friend. See you in a bit.


  7. Pauline James Curtis says:

    I was thrilled to see you’re back at the keyboard Gery, marrying heart and mind with words. Love this piece in all its recollections and love, decorated with photos. Precious, and worth the wait. I could smell the cedar chest and tissue paper with perhaps a hint of lavender wafting the air. Congratulations to your dear sister and her groom, too.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, dear P. It’s been a funny few months, but when inspiration strikes, I’ll be back at it. Love that you’re in my cheering section.


  8. Rick Stevens says:

    Love “heady social capital!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barbara says:

    Thank you Gery for all those great memories and yes, so sadly we lost Lonnie then George now
    when we gather as Classmates of 1957 many are missing. However, our memories are strong
    and as friends since 1945 your big sis and I can reminisce till “the cows come home”. How great
    to see Phil and Mimi all mellow and enjoying their family for this auspicious occasion!


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thanks, Barb. You and my big sis go back a long, long way.


  10. racingbabe2021 says:

    What sweet comments in this day of doom and gloom! Thank you for sharing your memories!


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Appreciate this. Thank you.


    2. Gery Lemon says:

      Oh, thank YOU for reading and commenting.


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