Bob and I have now been married 40 years. It's hard to believe it has been that long, but our growing family shows how the years have passed. (Still no new grandbaby as of this writing, but soon.)
I can't help but reminisce about our big day all those years ago. Bob and I had been going together a little over two years, when he asked me to marry him. It was so romantic.
We were driving back from Farm and Fleet in Kankakee, IL, when our future together came up in our conversation. He said he didn't know where we were heading. I told him it was up to him; after all he hadn't ever asked me to marry him. His memorable proposal came then, "Well, do you want to?" For some reason I said, "Yes." That was August. Bob was 30 years old. I was 23.
For a brief moment, we thought about eloping, but after talking to our parents, we planned a nice family wedding for about 150 relatives and friends. The date was set, Dec. 1, less than four months away — no long engagement for us.
We hoped harvest would be finished before our big day and it was. In fact, it was a lovely fall. Still Bob wasn't sure if we'd have a honeymoon. He had never left his dad alone with the cows for any length of time. Lucky for us his uncles stepped in and came for the milkings — they even milked the day of our wedding for us.
A friend's mother made my dress and all of the bridesmaids' dresses, too. Food for our supper came catered from another relative of the Manzke family. The church was mine, St. Anthony of Frankfort. Because of construction, we used the chapel in a convent, the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Mokena, IL.
Of course we worried about weather. Fate was with us. We had a wonderful late fall day, though a bit breezy.
Weddings were unusual at the Franciscan chapel, but they found a place where I could get ready for the service. Okay, it was a little creepy. The area was usually used when one of the sisters was viewed in a casket for her funeral — in the end that just made the day more memorable.
My sister was my matron of honor. She ended up carrying her daughter, our flower girl, down the aisle. Little Sherri was only 14 months old. Sherri did great, even though she had been sick with a high fever the night before. (Bridesmaids included my best friend, Joyce, Bob's sister Ginny, and my friend, Teri. Bob's best man was his friend, Ed, with groomsmen: George, Dick, and Eddie.)
I remember seeing Bob look at me from the front of church when Dad and I started our walk toward him. He looked so great — Bob and his groomsmen wore pink shirts to match my bridesmaids' dresses. That was a surprise I hadn't expected to see.
The service went as planned except for uninvited guests. Bob and I didn't know we were being circled by a couple of wasps. My sister saw them and was trying to hold in laughter. My mother saw my sister's reaction and thought she was crying — no one cried and no one was stung. Luck remained with us.
We did not hire a professional photographer, so all we had was snapshots of our big day. Rules at the chapel did not allow us back inside after the service, so both our families were busy snapping away outside — we loved every photo, even the blurry ones. The only problem came later when the photo lab ruined the negatives when I tried to get reprints. At least now I can scan the original prints, but initially they were lost.
Our honeymoon took us south. We first stopped at Mammoth Cave, KY, and since the weather was rainy we continued on to Panama City, FL. We came home via St. Louis and ended driving on slippery, snow-covered roads going home.
That's our 1973 wedding in a nutshell. Bob says he can't remember much. He continues to rely on me to remember places and dates. Nothing has changed there.
Forty years has sped by. I can't think of a better person to spend my life with than Bob. As my family said back in '73, we were meant for each other. Who else would live with a crazy writer who shares family stories with the world in the newspaper?
FYI: Sale-by-mail: order all 4 of my books for $40 and I'll pay the postage and sales tax.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.