Chapter Thirteen: Grandpa Gordon and his New Wife

Since being  promoted to Brigadier General, Frank Miller was entitled to having his own assistant and his name was Lieutenant James Mosby. So, when Grandpa Gordon came to General Miller’s office, Lt. Mosby greeted him in the anteroom. When Grandpa Gordon stated his business, the lieutenant paged General Miller to notify him of Colonel Anderson’s (aka Grandpa Gordon) arrival.  Miller said bring him back to his office.  Upon entering his new office, Grandpa Gordon saluted the new general. His old friend guaffed at the formality of his greeting and shook his hand and gave him a pat on the back. Grandpa Gordon congratulated Gen. Miller on his new promotion. The General motioned for him to sit down. He looked around the office and noted  that the new office was much grander than his previous one.  What follows is a detailed record of their discussion.

As in their previous meeting Gen. Miller did most of the talking.

The General said, “Pretty nice, huh?” And Grandpa Gordon nodded in agreement.  He said,  “I thought your previous office was nice, this one has it beat.”

The Gen. raised his eyebrows and grinned. He said as a half question, “So you liked my old office? Well, how would you like it for your own?”

Grandpa Gordon’s mind started racing and he then said, “Does that mean what I think it means?”

The Gen. just chuckled and said, “I am glad all of your traininng has not gone to waste.”

Grandpa Gordon, smiles and said, “You old dog, you had this all planned out two years ago, didn’t you?”

The Gen. just broke out in a big grin and started laughing. He said, “I did not know for sure if I would get my promotion but there were rumours of it coming down the pipeline and who better to take my place than you, one who was instrumental in setting up the whole gunnery school in the first place.”

Grandpa Gordon asked the Gen, “Would I have a couple of days to get married before I took my new position?”

The Gen. broke out in a big grin and said, “Finally! It is about damned time you tied the knot. He then asked if two weeks would be enough time?’

Grandpa Gordon smiled and said, “Yes, sir, that would be grand, and thank you again for my promotion and new position.” He then stood up and gave his CO a great big salute. He then asked if he could be dismissed because he had a young lady to marry.

The Gen. smiled again and said, “What the hell are you still doing here? Go on and get the hell out of here and go marry that pretty girl of yours.”

Granpa Gordon then beat feet out of the office.

When Clara graduated in June of 1956, Grandpa Gordon had been overseas with the Thunderbirds so he had subsequently missed her graduation, and was now in the doghouse. So now he had to not only make up with her, ask her to mary him, get married and go on a honeymoon in just two short weeks. He definitely had his work cut out for him. Now that he was a full colonel, he was moved up the priority list on the hop flight “food chain,” so he was able to get an evening flight to the Reserve Base in Minneapolis. With taxiing time taken into account at both airports he was looking at close to 3 1/2 hours of flight time which meant he wasn’t going to pull into the base till after midnight. Most military bases had extra housing for just this purpose, so he was able to get a place to sleep the rest of the night.

Now that Clara had graduated she had moved back in with her parents, the Wilsons. This meant that Grandpa Gordon would finally get to meet her family when he came to call on her. Unlike with Clara’s visit to his homestead and her siblings being older and married with families of their own he would most likely not get to meet them. Since he woke up early as has done for years, he knew it would not be seemly to go over to to Clara’s house while they were eating breakfast, So he went to the base mess hall to get a bite to eat. Afterwards he went back to the base housing and took a shower and spent some time primping. Being his first meeting, Grandpa Gordon dressed up in his dress uniform so he could make a good impression. The new silver eagles on his uniform hopefully would also help to impress her parents.

Air Force Colonel Rank Insignia

After lollygagging some, Grandpa Gordon’s watch now read 10:00AM. This was a much more reasonable time to pay a visit. Unfortunately, now that Clara had moved back in with her parents, he did not have their phone number. He had been overseas when the move took place, and she had no way of getting ahold of him because he was at a different location each week. He knew that she was very busy with all of her final exams and her clinical practicums that he had not wanted to bother her, so with all said and done they fell out of touch for a few months. Well, the truth be told, it was more like five months since they had talked on the phone. That is why he knew he was in really hot water with her. He wouldn’t be surprised if she did not want to even talk to him. He had never been very good talking on the phone, so even if he had her phone number, it is highly unlikely he would have called her before he went to visit her.

When he decided to come back to Minneapolis to see Clara, he had not even aprised his parents of his plans. So their shared Buick was still at the farm, so he had not choice but to take a taxi to the Wilson homestead. Grandpa Gordon knew the address from an earlier discussion with Clara and getting to her house did not present any real difficulty. Since Clara had been living at the college dorms the whole time he had known her, he had never been to her parent’s house and therefore did not know what to expect. It turns out that Clara’s parents were devotees of Frank Loyd Wright and their house was anything but traditional.

The Wilson house was two-story modern house located in an affluent neighborhood. In all their conversations together, Clara had neglected to tell Grandpa Gordon that she came from a well-to-do family. While they were not quite rich, they were certainly upper middle class, and were several notches above the Andersons. Both of her parents were college graduates though Constance, Clara’s mother opted out of the work place to raise a family. Her father continued on with his education to get his PhD and became a tenured university professor. Grandpa Gordon’s family were in stark contrast and were uneducated farmers. He was the first one to get a degree in his family and that was only a lowly associates’ degree.

No wonder Clara could afford to stay at a dorm room for her three-year program. He had never given it much thought, something he would never do again. When you make assumptions, the only thing that happens is that you make an ass out of yourself. He was now feeling like that proverbial ass. He hoped he had not jinxed himself and totally destroyed any chance he had with Clara. Boy, things had certainly turned 180-degrees, he had taken it for granted that he was the one with a better standing in society and that their marriage would be a step up for her. Now it was he who was marrying up?!

After paying the taxi driver, he swallowed hard and walked up to the front door and proceeded to hit the doorbell. Before he had even taken his finger off the buzzer, he heard a squeal and the next thing he knew, he was flat on his back on the grass in the front yard. My god, she was fast and strong and she punched way above her weight. When he finally caught his breath, he thought he had died and gone to heaven because Clara was straddling him and she would not stop kissing him all over his face. And just like that, all was forgotten and forgiven. It was like nothing had been amiss. She truly was an amazingly, delightful person.

Through all this he could hear laughter when he finally could look up, he saw her parents. Robert was holding his pipe in one hand and Constance with her arms crossed were just standing there hopelessly shaking as if experiencing convulsions as they broke out in peals of laughter. Finally, the hilarity subsided and her father came over to rescue Grandpa Gordon from his octopus-like future wife and to help him up. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. His uniform was covered in grass stains but you know what, he did not care because he could not stop grinning. He was just so damned happy.

Clara’s father Robert brushed Grandpa Gordon off as best as he could and escorted him into the house. He on one side and Clara on the other side all the while holding him tightly and smiling broadly. They went to the back of the house where they sat down in an airy and very inviting room with display shelves and chrome furniture and a long couch with lots of pillows. The room was lit up by a large series of windows that served to flood the room with natural light. The ceiling was open with natural wooden beams exposed, all-in-all, a very comfortable room.

As he sat down on one of the chrome chairs he could see another room which could only be a dining room. This room was also light and airy with a light-colored wood table and with eight wicker and chrome chairs. Chrome seemed to be the theme throughout this house. It was nice, but just not Grandpa Gordon’s cup of tea. He silently hoped that Clara did not want a modern home for their house. He was raised in a country-styled house himself, not that he was locked into that style. He was open to try different things, but the chrome was just not exciting him very much.

Now that they were all comfortable in their respective chairs, Clara innocently asked him why had it been so long since he had been in contact with her? Just when he thought he was off the hook, he should have known better. He did the best he could and stammered through the best excuse that he could come up with. So here goes:

Grandpa Gordon started out with apologizing sincerely to Clara. He then said that he knew that she was getting close to her graduation date and that she was going to be very busy with her final exams and clinicals. He also stated that the last year with all of their overseas touring including an extensive goodwill tour in Europe had been quite intense. Every week they relocated to a new base, so they were always in a state of flux. Before he knew it he realized that she had graduated. He was very sorry for missing that very important date and that he knew how hard she had worked at it.

Grandpa Gordon then stopped apologizing and looked right into her eyes and said how truly proud of her he was. She had stuck to her guns and had completed the nursing program and had been awarded a Registered Nursing degree. In his defense, it was only after she graduatedthat he realized he had never been given her parent’s phone number. During their conversations, Clara had told him their address but that he had never thought to ask for their phone number. He turned beet red from embarassment when he said this. His apologetic posturing for some reason tickled their funny bones and the Wilson’s burst out laughing in unison.

When the merriment subsided and Grandpa Gordon was starting to feel a little more comfortable, he continued on with his narrative. His schedule was so busy that before he knew it his two-year tour of duty was over with the Thunderbirds. He went on to tell of his visit with Brigadier General Miller and of his promotion to full colonel.

This promotion meant that he would now have a stationary location as long as he commanded the gunnery school. There was even the prospect that when the general retired and since he was in essence the general’s protege he would replace him as the new commander of the 4525th Fighter Weapons Wing. He knew that this was a little premature but he felt secure that this scenario would most likely take place. He went on to state that his old friend was a highly capable grandmaster chess player and was always thinking and planning several steps ahead. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise him if he already had his funeral plot purchased. He was just that kind of individual.

When Grandpa Gordon finished his narrative he looked at Clara to see if she was satisfied with what he had said. She smiled brightly back at him and said that she understood on what happened even if he was a nincompoop. She added that she was very proud of him for having his own command at the tender age of 35.

She finally concluded with, “Yes, I forgive you”, and added that, “I am sure you knew that already considering the manner in which I greeted you. I just wanted to make you squirm a little. I have been very worried about you these last two years. With our limited communications, it has done little to allay my fears and concerns. There is no denying that your tour as a Thunderbird pilot was very dangerous. I know that your work is very important, but please do me a favor, dial it down a little for a while. I feel like I have aged several years since you got this new assignment.”

When Clara finished, Grandpa Gordon fished a small box out of his dress jacket pocket. The box contained his grandmother’s engagement ring. His mother had given it to him on his last visit to the farm. She had been holding the ring for Grandpa Gordon because he had always been Grandma Amelia’s favorite. So now it was with this family heirloom that he was finally going to propose to the woman of his dreams. Before he lost his nerve he stood up and walked over to where she was seated and bent down on one knee and opened up the small ring box and took it out and asked Clara if she would marry him. His action had been so sudden and unexpected that he had totally caught her offguard and she immediatley shrieked with excitement. After she had calmed down some, she looked him right in the eyes and said, “yes”. The moment that he had waited for had finally happened. He was overwhelmed with emotion. Both of Clara’s parents stood up and hugged and congratulated them both.

After the congratulations were over, Grandpa Gordon pulled Clara ‘s father aside and said that he apologized for the abruptness of his marriage proposal. He said that his boss, General Miller only gave him just two weeks for not only the wedding but the honeymoon as well.

Well, Clara’s father said, “We had better get going. First thing we need to do is get your uniform dry cleaned, I think you are about my size, so follow me into my dressing room so you can change.” Then he asked what faith he was? Grandpa Gordon surprised by the question replied that he was Protestant. Papa Robert nodded with a smile, “so is Clara, so that simplifies things some…so while you are changing your clothes, I will contact our minister to make arrangements for the church and the ceremony. Considering the circumstances, I am thinking you would like to keep it small and simple and limit it to the immediate family on both sides?”

Grandpa Gordon said, “I think that would be the best. Even with the immediate family that will be a fairly large number of people, and I have four siblings all of whom are married with children. Not to mention my parents…. with my neices and nephews thrown in you are looking at 20 guests for my side.”

Papa Robert said, “That will not be a problem. Clara’s older sister just happens to have a catering business and since we have a large backyard we can have the reception there. And just to round off the math, Clara’s side will make 10 guests. One final question,what about your best man? Also I am not sure who Clara will want for her maid of honor…that could increase the number of guest by up to four more. Still no major problem.”

Grandpa Gordon said, “I would like my father to be my best man.”

Papa Robert said, ” I think we should inform the ladies of our plans, what do you think, son?”

Grandpa Gordon said with a chuckle, “I think that is very good idea after all, I just got out of the doghouse. I really don’t want to get put back in it.”

So after Papa Robert got off the phone with the Minister and Grandpa Gordon finished changing they went out to break the news to their better halves. Needless to say, neither one was too happy about the limited time frame. However, after some muttering they both were on board. In keeping with the family theme and to further simplify the arrangements, she said that she would have Michelle, her sister be her maid of honor.

Clara’s mother Contance said, ” Clara can wear my wedding gown, since she is the same size when I got married.”

Things seemed to be working out just fine so far. Since today was Saturday they had just six days to get ready for the wedding day next Saturday.

Grandpa Gordon asked if he could use their phone so he could notify his parents about the upcoming wedding on next Saturday. Of course, his mother was upset about the short notice but besides that they were extremely excited. Papa Thomas said he would be honored to be his son’s best man. So all that was settled. Michelle, Clara’s sister was also overjoyed about the news and having broken every traffic law in the state was already at their parent’s house with her catering catalogs.

Grandpa Gordon was finally able to pull Clara to a quiet corner to ask her how she was doing. “I hope this has not been too much for you?” he said. “I am sure you had different hopes and plans for your wedding day.”

Clara looked Grandpa Gordon right in the eyes, and said, “none of this matters as long as we are together. I knew that my life would be different because of your chosen career path, and I am OK with that. You are the kindest and most gentle man I have ever known, so don’t worry about the wedding, everything will be fine…I don’t need a big and elaborate one. All of the most important people will be there…. what more could you hope or ask for?”

Grandpa Gordon then said, “I am the luckiest guy in the world…when would you like to go looking for our wedding bands?”

Clara queried, ” Can we do it on Monday, my head is already spinning? Besides Michelle is here and she needs my help with the arrangements and selections for our reception and dinner.”

Grandpa Gordon said that was fine since he needed to find a house to rent so he and his family would have a place to stay here in Minneapolis. He remembered seeing some houses for rent near his boarding house so he would start looking there, but he first needed to get his car at his parent’s farm.

Clara asked him, “How are you getting back home?”

Grandpa Gordon said he would take the train in the morning and he could stay at the base tonight.

Clara said, “my dearest, you are a damn fool. First of all, we have a guest room with your name on it and second of all, my brother Benjamin will drive you to Sauk Centre so that you can pick up your car.”

Grandpa Gordon said, ” I don’t want to impose on your family.”

Carla looked him in the eyes and said, “Fiddlesticks, you are part of the family whether you know it or not.”

Grandpa Gordon looked at Clara abashed and said, “Thank you.”

Clara said, “tomorrow after church, Benjamin will take you to pick up the car besides he doesn’t always go to church like he should, so the drive will be a good way for him to atone for his laxness.”

The rest of that day went by like a whirlwind as the Wilson women planned out the wedding details. Papa Robert took Grandpa Gordon to the laundromat so he could get his uniform steam cleaned. They said it would be ready by Tuesday.

Before he knew it it was time to hit the hay. He kissed Clara goodnight before he went to bed. He didn’t realize how tired he was because as soon as his head hit the pillow he fell asleep.

He is not sure what time it was when he felt the sheets stirring and a warm soft body sliding into his arms. A soft voice whispered in his ear and said, “I missed you. I need for you to hold me for a little while. She then kissed him with a long and passionate kiss and then cuddled up against him.

They laid this way with his arms wrapped around her for a short while. He could feel her body through her thin nightgown and Grandpa Gordon nearly went crazy with passion. But he kept his calm until she told him that he could be inside her if he wanted to. He kissed her on her cheek and said that he wanted to wait until their wedding night. She turned around in bed and looked at him and said, “thank you for waiting,” and then she further said, “I love you with all my heart.” She then slid out of bed and like puff of smoke was gone.

As he laid in bed, he knew that he had done the right thing. But damn how was he going to get to sleep? Finally his enthusiasm subsided and he was able to return to sleep.

He woke up at 0600 in the morning and went for a six- mile jog around the neighborhood. He had gotten into the habit of running in the morning during his two years with the Thunderbirds and he wanted to stay on that routine.  He had to admit he was in the best shape of his life now and he owed it all to them.

When he finished with his run, the Wilson family was just starting to stir, so he ran up the stairs and took a quick shower. On the previous day, not only had they gone to the laundromat, but they had gone to the reserve base so he could get his rucksacks of clothes from his room. Now, someone else could use the room if they needed it. He still wanted to rent a house but until he got his car, it was easier to just stay with his future in-laws.

After he finished his shower and put some fresh clothes he put Papa Roberts’s dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Then he went downstairs for breakfast. While the breakfast was good it was not like the ones he had at his parent’s house. The Wilson’s breakfast consisted of toast, cereal and orange juice and coffee. He realized that they ate smaller meals in this house because they did not do a lot of physical labor like on his family farm.

After they finished their somewhat meager repast they cleaned up and went to church. When they got back brother Benjamin was waiting in the driveway to pick up Grandpa Gordon. Thank God, because if he had to eat any more of their low calorie meals he would starve to death.

On the drive to Sauk Centre, Benjamin grinned and asked him if he was hungry, Grandpa Gordon looked over at him nodded yes, “I am starving.” He said, ” Yeah, my mother is a great lady but she is not very good in the kitchen.”

Grandpa Gordon asked Benjamin if he had ever eaten Clara’s cooking and he said, “no, but hopefully she takes after our father because he can really cook. He almost became a chef. That is who Michelle takes after in the family. I know of this diner that we are coming up on that serves really great breakfasts.”

Benjamin was right, their food was excellent and he now felt much better. The rest of the trip went by pleasantly as they chatted about a number of topics. Benjamin was really a fun guy to hang out with, even though they came from totally different backgrounds.

They soon arrived at the farm and Grandpa Gordon introduced Benjamin to his parents, after he had hugged his mother and father that is. He had to admit that when he hugged his father he noticed that he felt a little on the thin side, but he quickly put that out of his mind. His father was as healthy and strong as a horse. He was always amazed that he could never beat his father in contests involving strength. But he wasn’t so sure that was the case anymore. He knew one thing he was going to sit down with his father in the not too distant future and find if he is was keeping any secrets from him.

Benjamin said he needed to get back home, so Grandpa Gordon thanked him again and said he would see him later.

Grandpa Gordon followed him to the barn where he kept the Buick stored. His father had to admit that they hardly used it. His mother said she was used to the truck and besides the neighbors might think they were putting on airs. His father said he turned it over every week to keep it in good condition and even though he had not driven it much he had just changed the oil. Grandpa Gordon asked his father since he wasn’t using the car if he wanted him to give him the rest of the money for the car, and his father replied, “No.” He had always wanted a convertible and now he had one.

Grandpa Gordon asked his father if he would like it if he came back and picked him up for the wedding, and he was surprised to hear him say “yes”. Then he told his father that he was renting a house in Minneapolis for the family to stay in for the next week while preparing for the nuptials . “Dad, since your are my best man I would really like it if you and Mom could spend some time with me before the ceremony.”

Papa Thomas said,  “that would be nice. I haven’t been doing a lot of farming lately, so I have plenty of time on my hands.”

That is when Grandpa Gordon really started to worry. His father was a dynamo as he just never stopped working. Maybe he should talk to Mom, well, he would have time at the rental house in Minneapolis. Then he thought maybe he should spend the night at the farm so he could visit with them some more. His thinking was that he could take them back to Minneapolis on Monday, that way his mother could visit the Wilson ladies and maybe get involved with some of the wedding plans. Besides it would do her good to be around other women besides her daughters.

Grandpa Gordon mentioned his revised plans and again he was surprised to hear that his father was all for it. He agreed that it would do Mama good to be around other women. It was agreed that they all go tomorrow. They then had a nice meal with just the three of them at the table. He was surprised because somebody always popped in around meal time, mainly, because Mama Lillian could really cook up a storm. After dinner, Papa Thomas declared that he was tired and was going to bed early.

After Grandpa Gordon helped his mother clean up the dishes they sat down around the kitchen table. Grandpa Gordon waited expectantly as he blew on his hot cup of coffee and while mom slowly stirred her cup of tea. Finally, she started talking and it quickly became apparent that something was amiss because his mother almost immediately started sobbing.  In all of his years on this earth, he had never seen his mother cry and now she was doing precisely that.

Grandpa Gordon asked his mother, “What was the matter?” She, of course, said, “It is your Father, he simply is not himself. He doesn’t have the energy to do anything. He didn’t even plant a crop this year and he sold all of his livestock. He mentioned since he was not going to raise the crops that were required to feed them, it did not make sense to spend money on the feed for them either, especially now that he was no longer breeding his livestock for sale.”

Mom continues, “I think he’s considering selling the farm seeing as none of your brothers or sisters want to take it over. I think that is part of his problem. He is depressed and he thought that he was building a future for his children and now they are all moving away from Sauk Centre and are working in Minneapolis or Chicago. Not to mention he seems to be in a lot of pain. When he thinks that I am not looking, I can see him grimacing when he even performs simple tasks. His clothes are also starting to hang off him and I can feel his ribs on his back when we hug. He is too stubborn to see a doctor or maybe he is afraid of what they will find.”

Mama Lillian states furthermore, “You need to know one thing, he is very proud of you. He has every newspaper clipping that mentioned you that he could find. He even has the St. Cloud librarian save any clippings that your name appears in. He wanted to see you fly in the Thunderbirds but they never came to Minneapolis. They are talking of doing a demonstration here but they don’t have a date. Not that it matters anymore. Pilots only fly in that squadron for two years and your time is over now. Hopefully the trip to Minneapolis for your wedding will do him some good.”

After they finished their drinks and exhausting the subject of Papa Thomas, they both went to bed.

The next day, mother Lillian packed hers and Papa Thomas’s clothes while he continued to sleep in. She then went down and prepared breakfast for the three of them. Grandpa Gordon was already out on his morning six-mile run. Papa Thomas finally woke up and came down for breakfast. He barely ate anything and just picked at his food. Grandpa Gordon had just finished his run and was famished. By the time he was finished eating there were no leftovers.

Grandpa Gordon then hopped in the shower and washed up. When he was finished he got dressed and went down to check on his parent’s status. They still had a two-hour drive to get to Minneapolis and an indeterminate amount of time to find a rental house, so they needed to get going. He knew it was going to be hard to rent one for just a week,but he was ever hopeful.

When they arrived in Minneapolis, Grandpa Gordon drove his parents over to the Wilson’s residence so that they could get acquainted. Previously, Clara’s father Robert upon learning of his daughter’s upcoming wedding contacted his teaching assistant(TA). He asked him to cover his lectures at the University for the rest of the week, so he was home to greet Grandpa Gordon ‘s parents. He quickly put them at ease as he escorted them into the house. Once they were in the door, Grandpa Gordon made his excuses and left to go look for a rental house.

Papa Robert said, “I am sorry, I do not have enough spare rooms now that Clara is back home, otherwise I would more than gladly have you stay at the house.” Papa Thomas thanked him profusely and said, ” that is OK because Gordon was going to rent a place for the week.”

Grandpa Gordon spent the next several hours looking for a rental house. Just as he was about to give up and contact a real estate broker, he drove by a likely house with a “For Rent’ sign on the front yard. He quickly jotted down the phone number and the address on his trusty note pad. Then he drove back downtown until he found a phone booth. The homeowner was overjoyed to hear that he wanted to rent the house but became a little less elated when he heard it was for only a week. After some negotiations, they finally settled on a price. Though Grandpa Gordon felt like he paid way too much but frankly he was desperate. The owner said he would meet him at the house in an hour.

When they met on the agreed upon time, Grandpa Gordon handed the homeowner the $50.00 and received the keys to the rental property. When Grandpa Gordon enterd the house he found that it wasn’t that bad. It was a two-story fully furnished house with a front porch. It had four bedrooms but there was only one bathroom. The kitchen came with silverware, plates, cups, saucers and glasses. There were also a few pots and pans to cook with. The house was was move-in ready. It had one bedroom on the first floor which was for his parents. Grandpa Gordon and his sister Virginia and her family who are visiting from Chicago will share the upstairs rooms. The rest of his brothers and sisters already live in the surrounding neighborhoods in Minneapolis, thereby, they already have their own places close by.

After the homeowner drove away, Grandpa Gordon took his parent’s luggage out of the trunk and brought them to their room. He felt bad when he saw the condition of the suitcases. They’re held together with twine as the lasps had long since been broken. He vowed to get them new ones for their next anniversary. While it wasn’t their 50th anniversary, it still would be a respectable 45th one.

After he finished with their stuff, he got back in the car and went over to the Wilson’s house to see how his parents were doing. When he arrived there he found that they were getting along famously. However, his father was looking a little tired. He asked his parents if they wanted to go back to the rental house to get situated. His father hesitated at first but then said that was a good idea. His mother was having so much fun that she decided to stay. You could see in her face she was torn about her decision but his father smiled at her and said he would be just fine. Grandpa Gordon chimed in and said that he and Clara would check in on him after they finished shopping for the wedding bands.

Grandpa Gordon, Clara and Papa Thomas all got in the car and off they went. Upon their arrival, Grandpa Gordon helped his father out of the car while Clara stayed behind. Having proferred the front seat to Papa Thomas on the ride over to the rental house, she now switched to the front seat.

Once in the house, Grandpa Gordon showed his father around. He told Papa Thomas that their bedroom was on the first floor and then he proceeded to helped him get comfortable in the living room where the television was located. This was one of the perks for this rental house, one that Grandpa Gordon was sure cost him extra. When his father was situated in front of the TV, he got in the car and drove him and Clara downtown to the shopping district in Minneapolis to look for jewelry stores. A little aside his parents did not have a TV in their house, so his father was quite happy to get a chance to see what all the fuss was about.

While colored broadcasting had started with the Ed Sullivan show, most shows were still in black and white. It would also be a lot to expect for a rental house to be furnished with a colored TV. So Papa Thomas was out of luck in this regard, but he was not picky and was just enjoying himself with what he had.

The first thing they did before they went looking for their wedding bands was to get their blood taken. As of this year, blood tests were still required to get married. By 1981, most states in the US had stopped requiring the blood tests. Mississippi was the last state to remove this requirement in 2012. With that odious bit of business taken care of it was now time for more pleasant pursuits.

After a couple of hours of looking for wedding bands they finally found the perfect ones. It had taken some time because because most of the jewelry stores could not guarantee that the wedding bands would be ready for Saturday. They lucked out with this last store because they had a good inventory and had the bands they liked in their ring sizes. So they were able to get them that day.

With that business taken care of, they went back to check up on Papa Thomas. When they entered the house they found him asleep in front of the TV. Grandpa Gordon picked up his father in his arms and carried him to his parent’s room. He could not believe how light his father was now. Something was terribly wrong with him. Clara volunteered to stay with his father while he went and got his mother.

Since the Wilson’s house was fairly close to the rental, it was no time before Grandpa Gordon was back with his mother. He had told her what had transpired when Clara and he had came back to check up on him. Grandpa Gordon asked his mother if she knew how much weight he had lost. She said she was not certain just that he looked a lot leaner. Grandpa Gordon told his mother that they need to get him to see a doctor. He looked over at Clara when he said that and she knew what that look meant. There would be no honeymoon for them. They were going to get his father admitted to the hospital so he could be checked out.

Because Papa Thomas was so stubborn it was going to take the whole family to get him to go to the hospital. Grandpa Gordon also knew that he would not even consider going until after he was married, so he didn’t even bother bringing up the subject to his father at this time.

As the week progressed, Papa Thomas spent most of his time at the rental house watching TV and only going out when his family came back after spending the day at the Wilson’s house planning the wedding. When they came home they would take him out to dinner. But as previously took place at the farm, he only picked at his food. Eventually, Friday rolled around and it was time for their rehearsal at the church. Since the family made up all of the wedding party including all the guests, they all showed up for the rehearsal. Frankly, the minister was a little overwhelmed by the number of people who arrived.

The rehearsal went off without a hitch and before you knew it they were at the restaurant to enjoy the rehearsal dinner. Nobody expected Clara’s parents to foot the bill for all of the people that showed up, so they went “Dutch Treat.” Every family paid for their own dinners. Needless to say, there was a lot of good-natured kidding going on as the two families became acquainted. Even Papa Thomas seemed to enjoy himself and for the first time that week he finished his meal.

Wedding Day

Everyone got up early and met at the Wilson’s house as agreed upon. Grandpa Gordon had never seen his family all dressed up before. He had to admit they really looked great. Since the ice had been broken yesterday at the rehearsal everyone seemed like old friends. They all mingled and chatted as they waited for the appointed time to go to the church. The only one who appeared to be nervous was Grandpa Gordon. Since the bride was sequestered we can only assume she was likewise nervous. Well, you would be wrong, she actually was quite calm. The only one who was nervous was Michelle, the caterer. She was afraid that nobody would like her food.

Clara’s father came out of the house and told all of the family who had been milling around in the backyard that the time had come for everyone to head over to the church. Meanwhile, the bride had just been sneaked into a van that pulled up to the front of the house and was driven by Constance, Clara’s mom.

After receiving the go ahead from Papa Robert, everyone piled into their cars and drove to the church. After all the respective family members were seated, the minister came out onto the altar. The groom, the bestman and the maid of honor were all positioned around the altar. This was to be a small wedding with no groomsmen or bridesmaids, just the principals.

The minister asked if all the guests were present? There was a nod from the two families, so he motioned to the organist to start playing the Bridal Chorus by Wagner (Here Comes the Bride). Soon the flower girl and the ring bearer came out followed by the Father of the Bride and the Bride. I want to state that there have been a lot of beautiful brides walking down those hallowed aisles, however, they all paled in comparison to Clara. She looked absolutely beautiful in that gown.

When Grandpa Gordon saw his bride he just about passed out because his heart was beating so fast and hard. He frankly didn’t know how he got to be so lucky.

They finally reached the altar and the father of the bride handed her off to Grandpa Gordon. Both the bride and groom then turned around and faced the minister. The ceremony went off without a hitch and soon the minister said the following lines: “By the powers vested in me by the State of Minnesota, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.”

Grandpa Gordon bent over and gave Clara a tender and loving kiss that was not too long nor too short but just right. I might add they had practiced this some because the last thing they wanted to do was to make a spectacle of themselves.

They then proceeded down the aisle and into their dressing rooms where they could relax for a few moments. Meanwhile all the guests made their way to the front of the church where the well-wishers would throw dried rice at the bride and groom.

Clara’s helpers took off the train and veil from the wedding gown so that she could move around easier. Then the bride and groom met up again and proceeded out of the church where they were met with a deluge of rice. They ran to their Buick convertible where they drove away to the reception. Usually they would get into a limo but this wedding was streamlined and simplified.

The bride and groom then spent the next several hours dancing, eating and enjoying the company of their family. Of course, people kept prompting them to kiss by clinking on their champagne glasses. They finally got to eat their wedding cake. They opted not to smash the cake into each other’s faces, but simply fed each other with a small piece. Before you know it the celebration was at an end and they went and changed into their travel clothes and drove away. Of course, since they had opted not to go on a honeymoon just yet they just drove to their rental house.

On the day before Grandpa Gordon’s wedding, and in anticipation of the change of plans that had been made, he had added another week to the house rental. This time the homeowner only charged them $45.00 for the additional week.

Putting all the necessary pieces together for his father (which meant getting the family to all meet at the rental house on a pre-determined time) had been easy, however, the hard part was still ahead of them. This was going to be difficult because Papa Thomas was a very strong-willed and stubborn person. Their task was to convince Papa Thomas to go to the hospital. Grandpa Gordon and his brothers and sisters along with their mother were all of like mind on the matter. Papa Thomas had to get help and they were not going to take no for an answer. To get the ball rolling, they all met at the rental house on the agreed upon time. During this process their father had remained clueless about their plans for him.

When Papa Thomas had been brought back to rental house, he was quite wornout and wanted to do nothing more than to relax on the couch in front of the TV. After he had been sitting for a little while he started nodding off. During this time his children and his wife had been watching him from the kitchen. Now the fruit was ripe for the picking. So they all walked into the living room and gently woke him up. Even though they were gentle he still woke up with a start. He was quite nonplussed when he looked around the room and saw all their concerned stares. The only word that came out of his mouth in reply was “damn.” The next thing he said was, “You’re not going to give up, are you?”

They all said “no” in unison.

Papa Thomas then asked, “What do you want me to do?”

They all chimed in together, “Go to the hospital to get checked out, we are concerned about your health and what is happening to you is not normal.”

Papa Thomas then said in resigned tone, “OK, I will go in the morning. I am sure that is what you all want?”

His family all nodded in agreement.