Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Aug. 11, 2006

Trip to the past - and back!

For years, Art and I used to alternate planning a special activity for our wedding anniversary. Then, 13 years ago, I arranged a vacation in Northern Wisconsin that led to our buying a summer place there. Since then, spending a couple of weeks in the North Woods each summer has been our gift to each other.

But this year I planned an additional surprise - watching our wedding video. Neither of us had seen it in the 18 years since we were married.

We enjoyed watching the video, but we were also amazed at the many changes in our lives since July 22, 1988.

Of course, we both looked different. I had big shoulder-length hair, popular in the 1980s, and it wasn't streaked with silver like it is now. Art's beard was more black than white, not the mostly salt and some pepper it is now.

And we were both considerably thinner.

The video began at the Riley County Courthouse. My parents, my pregnant sister Gaila, daughter Mariya, Mariya's babysitter Jodi, good friend Teddy and the judge were the only ones in attendance. Jodi taped the brief ceremony while in the background, little 2-year-old Mariya babbled away, oblivious to the importance of the occasion.

It was fun to again see my dress, which was light blue and salmon pink - the same color as the roses Art sent me before our first date. A friend from my hometown had made my two-piece outfit. She fashioned Mariya's dress too - a short-sleeved salmon-colored one with a sash that matched my dress. It included a little drawstring purse - a purse Mariya clung to throughout the big event. In one scene, Mom tried to take it and Mariya clutched it even more tightly. She didn't want anyone touching her stuff - just like 20-year-old Mariya!

The video then switched from the small group at the courthouse to the reception the following night. It was a larger affair, complete with a dinner buffet, wedding cake and champagne. A friend played classical guitar, another friend recited a Native American prayer and Art related the story of how we met.

As Art on the tape opened the champagne, Art next to me reminded me that we still have a bottle in the cellar. "Maybe we can open it for our 20th anniversary," I mused.

As the tape rolled on, I began to think of all the people who are either gone or who we have lost track of. Of the 50 or so guests at the reception, five - my Dad, my first husband's mother Rita and friends Teddy, Bill and one of the three Marys - have died during the ensuing years. Jodi and another friend Mary we have not heard from for a long time. And the young children in the video are now grown. Some are in college, some are married and some have babes of their own.

My thoughts drifted to the 8-mm film my uncle made nine years earlier of my first wedding to my late husband Jerome. Those images are some of the only moving pictures I have of him.

When the video ended, I was lost in the past, thinking of Art's and my wedding day 18 years earlier - how our lives have changed and about the people we have lost - and about what lies ahead.

Art was quiet too and seemed lost in thought.

"What are you thinking?" I asked.

"Oh," Art said, "isn't it amazing what poor quality video those old camcorders produced compared to machines today?"

OK. Moment over!

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