A special day

Susan Manzke

The weekend was planned. We were heading over to Plover for an early Christmas with our family. I arranged to have a friend care for our critters while we were gone. Everything was set, except for the weather.

Forecasters had dire warnings. Snow would be dumped in our area. Bob and I worried that if we left before the storm, our friend would not be able to get here to care for our animals, or if she did, Colette could end up stuck in our drive. Not a happy scenarios.

Christmas was canceled, or at least postponed until January.

The second part of our family weekend was a wedding. That wasn’t canceled. On Sunday, Dec. 18, Rob Manzke and Tara Spurlock would be married, no matter the weather. The only question was, would the parents of the groom get there?

Wedding family: Ethan, Tara, Rob, Aryana, Caleb and Seth

When the roads are slippery, I stay put. I panic when travel is bad. So I kept my eye on the weather reports. Snow would be done by Sunday, but the temperature would drop to below zero. The worst part was the reports said we’d have blowing snow with whiteout conditions.

Watching television news reports didn’t help my state of mind. All the videos showed vehicles piled up all over the country in storm-related accidents.

I was scared to drive, even though I really, REALLY wanted to go. Rebecca and Andy offered to drive us. We accepted their invitation, but I continued to worry. The night before the big event, I hardly slept at all.

Andy drew the short straw. He would be our chauffer. The back seat was my chosen space — with a bag over my head so I wouldn’t see the slippery roads (well not exactly a bag over my head). Looking out the side window, and not at the road conditions, was my way of staying calm — also closing my eyes and taking deep breaths.

We had our car filled with winter weather gear: blankets, extra warm hats, a snow shovel and Hershey bars. That’s how we went to the wedding in Wisconsin Rapids.

The slippery roads kept driving speed down. Every traveler seemed to be taking care. The temperature was below zero, but luckily the predicted north wind didn’t whip up the snow.

Still, I worried. “If we slide off the road,” I told Andy, “The first thing I’m going to do is eat a Hershey Bar.”

It took longer to go to Rapids than usual, but we managed and even arrived early — because we started extra early.

The wedding was an intimate affair: family and a few friends, about 30 in total, including a lot of our grandchildren.

Rob and Tara wanted their day to center on family because they were joining two families into one: Rob, with his sons, Ethan (15) and Seth (12) would be linked to Tara and her two children, Caleb (7) and Aryana (4).

Caleb was to walk Mommy in. Aryana was right with them, and that’s where she stayed through most of the ceremony.

Personal vows had been written. Tara’s were read quietly, only for Rob’s ears. Rob never finished reading his bullet-pointed notecard before he choked up. “It’s all on the card,” he said as he waved it to the gathering.

Ethan and Seth brought up the rings. The melded family went to a table and put a family photo puzzle together, showing how they were all now one.

It was sweet and beautiful. After they were pronounced husband and wife, the first thing Tara said was, “Let’s eat.”

Lunch was ready and yummy. For once Bob and I forgot our heart-healthy diet and ate what we wanted, including chocolate cake.

Also I’m happy to add that we had no problems driving home.

Bob and I proudly announce that our family has grown by three. Welcome Tara, Caleb and Aryana. Our hearts have grown larger with your addition to the Manzke family.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;