This is a very historic building. It was originally a synagogue on Washington Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin, and it was where the Jews in the Capitol fled to mourn upon receiving the news that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated.
It was saved; I don't know its entire history but it was eventually moved (!) to a lovely park right on Lake Mendota and placed in the loving care of the Parks Department. Today it can be rented, and it sees every possible manner of merriment and festivities of a wide variety of faiths, causes, and celebrations.
It was in this building, twenty-two years ago today, the Mr Dearling and I were married! We had lived together for four years, during which time he proposed to me with some regularity. My thinking during those years went something like this:
"The commitment is clear and strong. We're bonded for life."
"We're a pair of old hippies, we don't need no steenkin' piece o' paper."
"We have everything we could possibly want, what difference would it make?"
That was what I thought...until some time before Valentine's Day 1986 when it suddenly hit me that he was EARNEST! In spite of being a free-thinking, liberal, aging hippie like myself, he had a real streak of traditional which certainly I, as a Jew, should have recognized. And I'd been laughing at his proposals, how embarrassing is that? (Try OY! EMBARRASSING!)
So on Valentine's Day I gave him a card with a fancy sportscar on the front - the license plate said, simply, "Yes". We went to Burnie's Rock Shop to get an engagement ring, and I found a very pretty sterling setting and picked out a wonderful triangular faceted garnet. (Garnets purify the thoughts, clarify the mind and warm the heart.) Unfortunately, though, Burnie couldn't put that stone into the setting I liked, so Mr Dearling chose a soft sea-green star sapphire which, might I add, is as clear today as it was 22 years ago. The planning of the wedding was simple. We decided on May, which was distant enough that his sweet parents could come, and we informally invited my sister and her husband and a few friends. We arranged for the use of the Gates of Heaven (May 10 was a Saturday that year too - AND the day before Mother's Day!). Mr Dearling's sisters and their husbands planned to come too, the one from St. Paul and the other lived here in town.
Now, Mr Dearling had been along for the ride during my children's teen years, and I don't mind telling you, there were times when *I* was ready to stomp out and leave them with him, but I cared too much for him to do that. Besides, I'm ever the optimist. (May I say, on the eve of Mother's Day, my faith was not misplaced; my children are admirable people, though I must give credit where due: Mr Dearling's influence was well-timed and effective.
Interestingly, I discovered that children are somewhat traditional too! MY youngest, #2 Son, literally breathed a sigh of relief and confided that he was really glad "because now I know what to call him." Hadn't occurred to me, but he'd struggled with references or introductions. "This is my mom's...." Now 43-year-old women don't have "boyfriends". Parents don't have "lovers". (Leastwise not where the kids know about it - young teenagers can be turned to granite by the suggestion that they are the result of their parents' having...you know, done IT.) Oh, there were cute names..."MARS Man" was one of my favorites; it came out of California. Are you sitting down? OK: " Man Acting in Role of Spouse." Get it?
But now we were married, Mr Dearling became an honest "stepfather". The Lovely Daughter began calling him "Dad" with just the slightest hint of irony; in pretty short order the irony faded and she's called him "Dad" ever since.
NOTE: do not biggify these pictures; they were taken with a digital camera through the wrinkly plastic sheets covering the original pictures in a "magnetic album", which I think will guarantee their destruction - but hopefully not until we've croaked. My best friend Sue made our wedding cake, with lovely little roses made from flattened gumdrops; it was much more delicious than any other wedding cake I've ever had. In fact, friends took pictures, Lovely Daughter and I made cream-cheese-olive sandwiches cut in little triangles with the crusts off, and as I recall we drank lemonade. What did this extravaganza cost? Love, friendship, laughter and more love. A lot of it.
How young we looked! How...thin! How dark-haired! But let me see - Mr Dearling and his parents were a little late to the Gates of Heaven...because my mother-in-law-to-be (of blessed and cherished memory) went along to the floral-and-teddy-bear shop to get my floral wreath - and was delayed in picking out just the right teddy bear for me. Our officiant was a local character called "Rev Ted" who was a Universal Life Bishop (perfectly legitimate and legal, and he was an astrologer/free-thinker with an open heart and open hands and a good friend in the bargain.) My sister and her husband did NOT come; they had another obligation. But one of my dearest friends in the world was on his way back to New Hampshire from Iowa with HIS new bride, and they DID come! I had two of my three children there - #1 Son was doing a stint in the Navy at the time.
Don't we look cute? And you know, sort of normal? I had to admit, while there wasn't any big major change for any of us, it seemed that the kids especially seemed to relax into the security of a more traditional family.
Why a "birth day"? Because I'll say it here, as I've said it many and many a time over these last 26 years (remember, four together before the wedding) years: from the day Mr Dearling moved in and began sharing our lives, I have felt reborn. I have learned from my husband, and feel myself today to have a confidence, a security, an independence that I hadn't had before. We rarely argue, and we enjoy great discussions. For example, I wrote a story which takes place in Ancient Egypt, and in it I referred to the precious oil being "borne thence on a barque"....Mr Dearling took exception, saying that he believed barques were a form of boat foreign to Egypt, and that another word might be better. Later that day he got on line (whatever DID we do before the innerwebs?) and did some searching.........learning, thereby, that there WERE barques in ancient Egypt and some, specifically, were richly fitted out and used as conveyances for the gods. As we had originated this discussion at the Museum (to the vast entertainment of our college-aged colleagues) he made a distinct mention to them to apprise them of the accuracy (and position) of barques in Egypt.
I guess what all this boils down to is that I am saying "Thank You" to the man who, by making me his wife, gave me an independence, a confidence and security well beyond what I would have achieved on my own. I'm a better writer, a better reader, a better thinker, a better old lady, a better....well, ok, a more enthusiastic knitter. And I savor every moment of every day. It is such that we really enjoy our shared interests and mutual experiences - and relish our individual pursuits and solitary time as well. (We attribute much of our success to the fact that we joined our lives as adults, and didn't ever have to waste time with the game-playing, tense, scary ritual dance that is the Courtship of the Young.)
All's I can say, from my heart, is: Thanks, Mr Dearling. I love you!
And here begins the next wonderful fun of the next 22 years!