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.
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.
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.
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.
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