Thursday, October 30, 2008

An anniversary gone by

Tuesday would have been my 24th wedding anniversary. I recall it as one of my most blessed and most perfect of days. Everything had been planned and mapped out for me in advance. All I had to do was show up in my tuxedo and say my "I do's." It was a Sunday and there were meticulous plans as to when I was to make my appearance and when my bride was to be there. We weren't supposed to see each other during that day prior to the ceremony because superstituous members of the family said it would be bad luck. So, I was at the morning brunch for an hour and then I had to leave in anticpation of my wife-to-be showing up to meet with family, friends and well-wishers there. During the day, I cooled my heels waiting until it was time to leave for the synagogue. When it came to the wedding ceremony, I merely had to wait. And wait. And wait some more. My bride had arranged for limousines to pick up her bridal party, which had assembled at the Fairmont Hotel. The grooms, ushers and I had to get to the synagogue by the appointed time on our own. While the crowd gathered, an organist played Beatles songs during the period prior to the actual ceremony. It was a key point upon which my wife and I had insisted. Several qualified organists had turned down the opportunity to perform citing "artistic differences" in our choices for selections. At the last minute a friend of a friend volunteered to take on the job, but he went to Florida the week before to party with some of his friends and made both my future wife and I very stressed because he didn't bother to show up until the day of the rehearsal in order to familiarize himself with the organ and to pick up the music. That was the only real stress we dealt with in the days leading up to the wedding. My bachelor party the previous Thursday night was a disaster, but it was a carefree affair. For those of you who would like to think that there were strippers or pole dancers prepared to give lap dancers to moi, forget it. It was a very tepid evening consisting of a bunch of guys drinking a lot of booze at Pat O'Brien's in the French Quarter (a giant hurricane in a souvenier glass about the size of a small fish tank) and a trip back to a hotel room that quickly emptied when one of the members of our party emptied the contents of his stomach in the middle of the carpet. Gee, how romantic! The rehearsal dinner at the Fairmont Hotel the night before the wedding was a very swank affair and the best part was that the master of cermonies was my dad, who also stood as my best man at the wedding the next day. Sadly, the wedding book that he, the rabbi who performed the ceremony, my uncles, my wife and I signed was lost to the ravages of flooding following Hurricane Katrina. So, too, were all of my wedding pictures except for one picture of my bride that was kept in a frame very high on a downstairs wall. So, too, was the book of Beatles music the organist played. Yet, I still remember the day as a bright and beautiful memory of a romance that culminated in a grand candlelit event at Touro Synaogue attended by four hundred of our closest friends and family members. No rank waters or encroaching mold and mildew could ever wipe away my memories of that day or of the woman I loved so long ago or my dad, who both left this world within three weeks of one another ten years before the hurricane that decimated my city.

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