Today, July 11, 2012 would have been my parents’ 69th wedding anniversary.
With that milestone in mind, when we went to visit Mother recently at the nursing home, I thought I might use her dementia-impaired memory to her advantage, allowing me to tell her a (true) story, knowing that she would hear it with “new” ears!
Here’s the story I told her, almost verbatim. After I finished, she smiled at me and said, “You do good story!”
“Once upon a time, 69 years ago, there was a handsome young 25-year-old man named Grover, who worked for the railroad as a clerk at the depot in Apex, North Carolina. One day somewhere around the end of May, a friend of his came in and introduced him to this very pretty 18-year-old recent high school graduate named Edna Ruth. It must have been something like love at first sight, because it didn’t take long for the two of them to decide they wanted to get married.
“Neither of them had a lot of money, but fortunately for them both, Grover had a granduncle who was a minister. So they went to the town of Pinetops, NC, to pay him a visit. His name was George Gold Trevathan, but everybody in Grover’s family called him ‘Uncle Gold.’ Grover and Ruth went to his house, and asked him if he would perform the ceremony, and without hesitation, Uncle Gold heartily agreed. He said, in fact, that they could be married right there in his house, if they liked.
“At some time during this visit, Edna Ruth saw a little eight-year-old girl standing across the room. Smiling, she said to the girl, ‘And you can be our Flower Girl!’ The little girl was so happy to be asked to be a part of the wedding that she immediately said, ‘Yes!’ In addition to being the Flower Girl, Little Janie Proctor (Grover’s distant cousin) would also serve as the Ring Bearer for the ceremony.
“And so it happened. At 8:30 on Sunday morning, July 11, 1943, almost exactly six weeks from the day that they first met, Edna Ruth and Grover were married. The Raleigh News and Observer described it this way: ‘The bride descended the stairs unattended, met the bridegroom, and entered the living room together. She wore a dress of white sheer crepe, a veiled turban and white accessories. Her flowers were sweetheart roses and valley lilies. The ring bearer wore a frock of pink taffeta and carried an old-fashioned nosegay of pink and white flowers.’
“After the ceremony, the Bride and Groom, along with their Flower Girl / Ring Bearer Janie Proctor posed for a snapshot on the front lawn of Uncle Gold’s house. On the back of Grover and Edna Ruth’s copy of that snapshot was written ‘Grover, Edna Ruth, and Janie Proctor.’ Time and distance separated the couple from little Janie Proctor, and they were never able kept in touch. In spite of that, Janie remained with them every time they looked at that picture.
“Entranced by that picture, many years later Grover and Ruth’s son began to search for ‘little Janie.’ By the time he began the search, no one seemed to be left in the family who knew who she was, or who her people were. He did all the research he knew how to do, but for a long time, he failed, and he began to despair that he would never find her. But do you know what? Just about 69 years after Grover and Ruth first met, their son’s research paid off, and he found ‘little Janie’!
“He wrote to her to make sure she was, in fact, the Flower Girl, and found out that yes she was. He and his wife traveled up to Maryland where she lives, met her, and found her to be every bit as beautiful a person as she had been a pretty little girl. It was a joyous reunion of families, full of hugs and smiles, and the Flower Girl told all sorts of wonderful stories about that day 69 years ago that she still vividly remembers — July 11, 1943.”
Watching the smile on Mother’s face as I told the story, seeing the occasional flash of remembrance of names or events, brought my heart to overflowing — especially when she told me, “You do good story.”
I hope she enjoyed it as much as it moved me.
(Read the follow-up to this story here: 69 Years Ago – The Sequel: The Flower Girl’s Story.)
NOTE: My mother died five months after my telling her the above story.