Banks County Opinions...

AUGUST 11, 2004


Column

By:Angela Gary
The Banks County News
August 11, 2004

40 years later,renewing vows
The bride wore a lace-covered ivory dress. Her bridesmaids wore long flowing lavender dresses. The groom and his attendants, including his 2-year-old grandson, wore tuxedos.
The bouquets were made of fresh red roses with matching boutonnieres for the men. The white cake had miniature doves and wedding bands on it.
It wasn’t the first time the vows were said but it was special none the less. My parents recently renewed their wedding vows on the 40th anniversary of their wedding date.
They were just teenagers when they got married and didn’t have a “real” wedding ceremony. They weren’t in a church and didn’t have the fancy wedding clothes.
Early in the year, my sister and I began planning this wedding gift for our parent’s anniversary. We found a wedding chapel in the Smoky Mountains and reserved it for Monday, Aug. 2. The Pigeon Forge Wedding Chapel has a congregation and holds weekly church services. It also offers packages for both weddings and renewal services.
We liked that it is a “real” church that offers these wedding packages on the side. Some of the churches are only in place for the weddings and don’t have regular church services.
The Rev. Lee Fox performs the ceremonies, as well as serving as the church’s regular pastor. He came in for a brief visit with my mother before performing the renewal ceremony. My sister and I were in the dressing room with her, waiting for the service to begin.
The Rev. Fox said he comes into the dressing room before the services and is usually the one who “talks about Jesus” with the brides. He said the wedding planners tell all of the couples that contact the church that they will be hearing about Jesus.
The Rev. Fox was in for a surprise this time. Before he had time to start talking about Jesus, Mama told him how the Lord had blessed her throughout her life and it is only through Him that she is where she is today. She quickly spoke of the successes in her life and said they only occurred because of the Lord. She had a glow about her that had nothing to do with being a “bride” for the day. It’s obvious that putting the Lord first in her life has led to my mother’s marriage lasting 40 years and for all the “blessings” that she has in her life.
I have always been put off by people who tell you about how they are a “good Christian” because of the years they have served as a deacon/Sunday School teacher/etc. and how much they have done for their church. My mother doesn’t talk about what she has done for her church. She talks about how much the Lord has done for her. To me, that is what makes a “good Christian.”
After our visit with the pastor, we had the ceremony. It was sweet and simple and will always be in our hearts. My 2-year-old nephew, Jake, led Mama down the aisle. My sister and I stood as Mom’s bridal attendants, while my brother-in-law stood with Daddy. Jake moved around from side to side of the pulpit as the vows were spoken.
The photos and video from the renewal ceremony will be treasured mementos of this special day. It is a joy to have your family around you in times of celebration.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.

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Column

By: Shar Porier
The Banks County News
August 11, 2004

20 years ago...
I pulled into the parking space outside the restaurant. An older couple was coming out and as they did, I saw a small handprint appear as the sunlight grazed the door.
It was at the height of maybe a four-year-old or a five-year-old. It made me smile. Staying in my car, I watched as the hand “waved” at me with every opening and closing of the door.
Then a feeling of great sadness swept over me. It was almost August 15. A day that has become very bittersweet yet, very precious to me.
My mind swept me back to 20 years ago. The sun was blazing as usual and I had a list of errands to run. Important errands. Joyous errands. I was going shopping for baby things.
I was four months into my pregnancy and had high hopes. It was my third pregnancy. The first two never made it through the first trimester. This time, I thought was going to end happily, with a baby boy in my arms come January. I hadn’t told anyone yet, except my husband, of course, having learned my lesson the first two times around. It was just too painful to call the family and tell them.
While washing dishes at the sink, I felt an awful sinking feeling, then pain. Something was going wrong, very wrong. My husband was out of town; I couldn’t raise any of my friends close by. I was going to have to drive myself. After a quick call to my doctor, I made it to the car and headed for the hospital.
I was scared; it was so painful. The hospital was only a few minutes away…
In the rear-view mirror, my eyes caught the sight of the blue-lights. I hadn’t even heard the siren.
The cop was stopping me – stopping me? I had my emergency flashers going. He pulled in front to stop me.
When he reached my window, I blurted out that I was on my way to the hospital. “I may be having a miscarriage,” I said with tears welling in my eyes.
He replied: “You were going 60 in a 45.”
I begged him to let me go, get on to the hospital. When he asked me to get out of my car, I refused — told him I couldn’t, the pain was too great and I was bleeding.
“Why didn’t you call an ambulance?”
“I don’t have hospitalization, please let me get on to the hospital.”
He shrugged, never looked up and wrote me a ticket.
When I finally got to the emergency room, I knew for sure I was losing my baby. Thirty minutres later, my son was born and died. I knew he was too young to make it. I never got to even see the tiny human being I had felt growing in my womb, the gentle kicks and sudden movements. The baby I wanted so badly. I could not keep from crying. I didn’t understand. It wasn’t fair.
They gave me a shot of something. The emergency staff was busy trying to stop the bleeding. Through the drug fog I heard them, the doctor barking orders, the clatter of instruments. At that moment, I really didn’t care. I had lost my boy. Amid anguish and anger and blaming myself and that damn cop, I passed out.
When I opened my eyes, I was in a hospital bed in, of all places, the maternity ward. In a blurred haze, I watched as a nurse came in to check the woman in the next bed; she was in labor. She was with her husband who was holding her hand and giving her words of encouragement. The doctor came in and they wheeled her out to the delivery room.
I was dumbfounded. What the hell was I doing here where women were delivering their healthy babies? It was cruel. I rang for the nurse.
“Why am I here? Why not on another floor? Anywhere but here!”
I could hear babies crying and mothers cooing. It was torture.
“Are you people crazy? I’m getting out of here.”
I struggled to my feet, but my legs wouldn’t cooperate. I couldn’t walk. The stand holding the bags of who-knows-what fell and pulled the needle out of my arm. I watched as the blood flowed from puncture.
Then I heard a familiar voice, my doctor.
“Shar, Shar, just lay back down. I’ll get you out of here.”
I fell back in the bed.
“Why would anyone put me here,” I cried. “Doc, help me!”
He ordered a shot and within seconds, I was out. Blessed silence, merciful blackness.
Several hours later, I came to in a quiet room, on a quiet floor. No crying babies, no pregnant women. Just silence, except for my weeping. Huddled in that bed, I smothered my tears in the pillow. I did not want to be heard, be disturbed. I just wanted to cry and cry and empty that well of agony that seemed to have no bottom. Stop the misery that bound me so tightly, crushing my heart.
I didn’t even notice when my husband came in until I felt him gather me in his arms. He held me tight and rocked me, stroked my hair, tried to kiss away my tears.
“Let’s go home,” he said. “Let’s get you home.”
Doc came in and they spoke quietly together. In a few minutes, I was being unhooked from the IV’s and helped into a wheel chair.
I wanted to go home. I wanted to lock myself away and never leave. I felt desolate, lost.
We both drew from each other’s love and strength. We shared our tears as we buried our son in very private ceremony. Comfort was only found in each others arms.
Things were hard at first. I didn’t want to talk to or see anybody.
I didn’t know how to cope with the loss of my son, the loss of this wonderful future I had imagined. Then I realized, I didn’t have to cope with it, I had to accept it. Accept that the grief would always be a part of me; accept that I was never going to have another child.
I looked at the pictures hanging on my wall. All those nieces and nephews with their young smiling faces. I still had kids; they still needed me, loved me. With that thought, came the strength to start the climb up and back into the world.
As time went by, I would have dreams about him, playing and romping in beautiful green fields. In my dreams, I got to be with him, touch his face, and feel his little hand in mine. The dreams helped me find peace.
Over the years, I’ve found an unimaginable grace in that heartbreaking experience. I knew what it felt like to be a mother, if only for a little while. I knew what it felt like to have a tiny person growing inside of me. Felt the bond that would last an eternity whether he was with me or not. It was a great gift, a treasure.
I finally went inside to get my take-out and standing in line was a young man. He was about the age my boy would have been. I tried to imagine what he would have looked like, the color of his eyes, the sound of his voice. What would he have liked to be?
My imaginings abruptly ended when the waitress brought out my order. I grabbed the bags and headed for the door. But, before I left, I stooped down to find the handprint I had seen. I placed my hand over the impression and smiled. Now, we’d both be waving.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.


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