It was twenty years ago today. B and I were heading for the coast. The devastation from Hurricane Fran was visible everywhere. She had wiped out a lot. From the coast all the way inland, her path was seriously evident. With wind gusts of up to 90 miles per hour as far inland as our area, power outages were prevalent and long lasting. Everyone had downed trees, downed power lines and a serious mess to clean up.
Fran had come through on September 5 of 1996. We lost power for over a week. My mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary was coming up in three days on the 8th. Big plans had been made and none of us were certain if they would come to fruition. Guests were coming in from all over the country and flights were not that easy to come by nor places for them to stay. But the hotel had a generator and those of us who were locals found rooms to stay in the day before the big day. The power at the hotel came back on that night. Though not everyone could make it due to the circumstances, we still had a wonderful time.
Six weeks later, most things were back to normal. Cleanup was still an ongoing process. B was kept busy, because at the time, he owned a tree business and there was no lack of work due to Fran’s impact. We broke down and bought a generator that could run the whole house. After this serious encounter with Mother Nature, we were not going to be caught in that situation again. Not having power for a long period of time teaches you things!
But we had other things on our mind. We were going to get married! After careful thought, we decided we wanted to have our ceremony at the beach. I had contacted a kind minister in the small coastal town of Swansboro, NC and we were headed to meet with him at his home and make our arrangements. On our way, we stopped at the courthouse in that county and acquired our marriage license. When we got to the minister’s home, there was a gentleman clearing the yard of debris still left from Fran. Inside, we were greeted by the preacher’s wife who had on her apron and flour all over her hands. She was baking pies.
We were not too far into the conversation, when B nudged my knee. I looked at him inquisitively and he moved his head close to my ear. “Ask him if he would marry us now” he said. My eyes opened wide and my mind raced. Now? I thought. I am in blue jeans and although I had my wedding band with me, we had yet to buy B’s. Aloud, I said, “Now?” I looked into B’s eyes and knew he was totally serious.
So, I asked. And, much to my surprise, the minister said, “Well, we are going to need two witnesses”. Handily, there was the gentleman outside and, of course, the minister’s wife! She was aghast at the idea that she was in an apron and had flour all over her, but we all quickly convinced her that this was a special occasion and no way would a little flour stand in its way! Ha Ha
With our two witnesses, a valid marriage license and our determination to tie the knot, the ceremony began. The minister had a lovely altar area in his home and we could feel the presence of Father’s Spirit as the vows were said. When the words “You may now kiss the bride”, oh, yeah, we did some kissing. Tee hee. With special pen in hand, the minister drew a beautiful large document on parchment paper using his talents in calligraphy.
We left as husband and wife. We were like two kids, excited and ready for our new life together. Even the destruction along the roads on our way back home didn’t dampen those spirits. Our hearts were way too full of sunshine for that to happen.
Now, twenty years later, we face the same devastation again. Nine days ago, Hurricane Matthew left a lot of damage and power outages in its wake. Schools here are still closed, rivers are just now receding below flood stage, thousands are homeless and heartbroken.
But today, in spite of all that has happened around us, that same sunshine is still in our hearts; the joy and memories of that day so long ago have become many and built upon each other. Much has happened since then. Many challenges have arisen, some nature related and others life and death situations. But we are still here, still together.
Father, we thank You for all You do for us. Thank You for giving us all we have needed over these years to survive and grow and be. What a blessing!
Now, I guess I should start thinking about what plans we should make to celebrate….. We don’t really plan ahead because one never knows what each day will bring. But today, it is sunny; we both feel good; and it’s early yet.