The Vows We Took

When Theresa and I decided to get married, we promised each other that we would keep our wedding small.  It was a back-yard affair, and we were paying for it, and we had no money.  Smaller was better.

We invited 50 people to a garden party at our home.  That’s it.  No horse-drawn carriages, no fireworks, no Westminster Abbey.  Backyard garden party.  Period.

Nobody shared our plan to keep our wedding small with Theresa’s niece, Valerie.  Valerie was about 3 years old at the time, and Valerie wanted to be a flower girl in our wedding.

A lot.

Valerie launched a campaign to be the flower girl in our wedding. How do you say no to a 3 year old?

As a concession to world peace, and the desires of a 3 year old, we decided that it would be a really good idea to have a flower girl at our wedding.


I should take a moment to mention that Valerie is a great person.  She was born great.  She was a bright and happy little girl, and she brightened every room when she walked in.  We had no concerns about her ability to fulfill her flowery duties.

Come the day of the ceremony, Valerie was ready to go.  She practiced by picking grass and tossing it gently in the breeze.  Her training paid off.

When the ceremony started, she received a chorus of “aws” and “oohs” from our guests.  Clearly we had the right flower girl for the biggest day of our lives.

She walked in.

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She tossed her flowers.

Then she walked to her seat, curled up in a ball, and fell asleep right next to us at our wedding.


Go back and read that last line again.  She fell asleep at our wedding.

Did I mention that she campaigned to be the flower girl at our wedding?

That she mentioned it every time she saw us for months?

That she dreamed of being a flower girl?

Do you think she could have stayed awake for the rest of our wedding?!


Valerie, I have some questions for you.

Do you fall asleep at work?  Why not?  Because you wanted that job, and you have a job to do, and they expect you to stay awake.  In exchange for being hired for the job, you stay awake at your job.  (At least I hope you do).

Then please explain to me why you fell asleep at our wedding.  You wanted the job, you campaigned for it, and then you fell asleep.

I have a problem with that.

(For the rest of you, who are not named Valerie, I don’t have a problem with it. It was funny.   We had a great wedding, with an adorable flower girl, who had a nap on our wedding day, at our wedding.   It added a lot of laughter to a beautiful  day.)


One of the things that little punk who fell asleep Valerie slept through was when Theresa and I exchanged our vows.  There were a set of them.  You’ve heard them before-  “in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer….til death do us part”.

Theresa was looking at me when she said them, and she looked really sincere.  I asked her about that later.

It turns out that she meant those vows.


Back to the flower girl with narcolepsy. Valerie grew up a little bit between 1993 and now.  She met a fellow named A.J., and they fell in love.

I don’t know what the “A.J. “ stands for.    Valerie doesn’t know what A.J. stands for.  I don’t think A.J. knows, either.

But he is a terrific fellow, and they complement each other in so many ways, and they decided to get married last year.

I threatened to fall asleep at their wedding, but Theresa wouldn’t let me do it.

I’m glad I didn’t.  It was a great affair.


Valerie and A.J. exchanged their vows.  Same ones, more or less, as the ones that Theresa and I exchanged.

I think they meant them.


Valerie and A.J. did something really sweet at their ceremony.  They had an “anniversary countdown”.

The D.J. asked all of the married couples to come onto the dance floor.

He asked all of the newlyweds to identify themselves, and the first few moments was dedicated to them.  Then they were asked to leave the dance floor.

Then all of the people married under 5 years and 10 years were asked to raise their hands.  Then they were asked to leave the dance floor.

Then the 10 year couples, and the 20s (that was us), and the 30s and the 40s were asked to leave the dance floor, one by one.

Which left three couples, married for more than 50 years.

Two of those couples were married 55+ years.

One of them, at the time, was married 59 years.  They were the last couple on the dance floor.

That was Al and Rose, my in-laws.

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I hear a lot of people who complain about their in-laws.  Not me.

I have the best in-laws.  And I know it.

Al and Rose are two of the hardest working, most honest, respectful people I’ve ever met.

They are the kind of people you want as your next door neighbors.  Their lawn is always mowed, and their leaves are always picked up.  If the polling place needs volunteers, they help.  If the church group needs someone to organize a trip, they help.

They are always helping.



I wasn’t at Al and Rose’s wedding.  They didn’t invite me.

I’m not offended, because it happened about 8 years before I was born.

61 years ago.

My in-laws have been married for 61 years.  So I didn’t get to see them exchange their vows.  But I do get to see them live their vows.

They do things the “old-school”way.  Some of their older siblings were even in arranged marriages.  Each of them had 5-6 siblings, and all of their siblings were married in arranged marriages.

Do you know how many of those arranged marriages ended in divorce?


It turns out that when they exchanged their vows, they meant them.

I think they still do.


Every once in a while, I will turn to Theresa, and ask about those vows.

I say something like:  “those vows….did you mean them?”  And she answers yes.

“Do you still mean them”.  And she answers yes.

Then she asks me if I still mean them.

I do.


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