Most of you probably don’t remember July 17, 1982, as well as I do, but it probably wasn’t as important to you as it was to me. I woke up that morning with a bit of a hangover after a night of revelry at Joe T. Garcia’s in downtown Fort Worth. After supper, I spent what was left of the night at my uncle’s house in East Arlington with five of my closest friends. We didn’t sleep much.
By mid-morning we started to roll out of our beds, had a huge breakfast, and spent the better part of the day hanging out in the Texas sun drinking beer by my uncle’s pool. About 4:30 p.m. we grilled up some burgers. After eating we went in to take showers and change into our “monkey suits.”
We arrived at the church around 6:30p.m. and hung around the offices while the rest of our party prepared. I have to admit that I was a little nervous. My life was fixing to change forever.
A few minutes before 7:30 p.m. my best man and I took our place at the altar. The chapel was jam-packed, with my friends and family on one side, Shirlene’s on the other. Even in those days, her side was much more crowded than mine.
The music started, I took a deep breath and the procession began. Beautiful women walking next to handsome men, each taking their assigned places up front.
Suddenly, the music got really loud and the entire congregation stood up. It was my first glance at her that day, walking towards me with her dad by her side. She was without a doubt the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
Now, I have to admit that between the day in the sun, the fatigue, the alcohol, the excitement, the nervousness and the vastness of it all, everything was kind of a blur.
I remember saying some words that we had practiced the night before, but heck I was barely 23 years old. I really had no appreciation of what was happening or the meaning behind what I was saying. I was going through the motions because that is what was expected of me.
Fast forward 40 years, and I now have a firm grip of what happened that evening:
“I, Scott, take you, Shirlene to be my wife,” an agreement to enter a committed relationship, made in front of God, our closest friends, and family.
“To have and to hold,” to stick it out with you, even when you make me angry. To listen and not give advice unless you ask for it.
“From this day forward,” we made it through the first 40 years. We probably have a shot at the next the next 40 too.
“For better, for worse,” in good times — these were easy and we have had many — and in bad — these were not as easy, but we have always worked through them. Fortunately, the bad ones have been few and far between.
“For richer, for poorer,” even when we couldn’t make the bills, you made me feel like a million bucks.
“In sickness and in health,” we have been lucky on this one so far.
“To love and to cherish,” I have loved you since the day we first met, and you are still my best friend.
“Until death do us part,” okay, this one still scares me a little bit. All I ask is that I don’t see it coming.
I guess, what I am trying to say, is that after 40 years I’d do it all over again, even though I’d know what I’m doing this time.