Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Some Things I Remember from December 20, 1969

In no particular order ...

1. I was incredibly excited. Joyce Ann Coyne and I had met in mid-July 1969 in a summer school course at Kent State ("American Transcendentalism," with Dr. Kenneth Pringle), both of us early in our Master's programs, a course neither of us had wanted to take at the time (each of us had been unable to get into our first-choice, which, naturally, was not the same one: high enrollment brought us together!), and our courtship had been, uh, rather swift--much to the alarm of our parents, whose alarm I could not understand. Why, I was almost twenty-five! What is the problem? Most of all I just could not believe that she loved me ... why? I've always joked that we married quickly so that she wouldn't get to know me too well until it was too late ... but there's a kernel of truth in that joke.

2. My grandmother, Alma Osborn (Osborn is my middle name--our son's middle name), had arrived from Columbia, Missouri (where, a widow, she lived in a retirement community). The night of our rehearsal, she fell on the ice and broke her arm--an accident she fiercely concealed from us; I did not know it had happened until, at the wedding, I saw the cast on her arm. She refused to discuss it--wanted the focus on us. That was Grandma ...  In the official wedding pictures, she covered the cast with a stole.

with Grandma Osborn and Uncle Ronald Osborn
3. My aunt and uncle--Ronald and Naomi Osborn--were having a very tough time. Their only child, daughter Virginia, had been killed only a couple of years before while she was heading home with friends over spring break during her freshman year at Stephens College. I'd asked my uncle--a distinguished seminary professor (and fantastic man)--to deliver the talk at our wedding, which he agreed to do--teasing me throughout, calling it an "oration." But Aunt Naomi was having such difficulty. She'd so much hoped for a day like this with Virginia, and now ...  I could tell throughout her time in Ohio (they were living in Indianapolis) that she was trying desperately not to break down. (See text of Uncle Ronald's "oration" below.) Aunt Naomi could not bring herself to be in the picture above. I understood--and understand.

4. We had the rehearsal dinner at the old Holiday Inn on Grant Street in Akron. The toasts were fantastic (older brother, Richard, I recall said that he used to beat me in races down the sidewalk, and now I had beaten him down the aisle); afterwards, I toasted everyone in the room--saying something about all the varieties of good people there are in the world.

5. My two brothers--Richard and Dave--and I wept throughout Uncle Ronald's "oration"--and through much of the rest of it.

6. The service was in Akron's Concordia Lutheran Church; some of Joyce's ancestors, stonemasons, had helped build the structure.

7. Our reception was at the carriage house at Stan Hywet. Many people there, including Aurora physician and friend Dr. Fred Bissell (whose children I had taught at the middle school). He took up a collection for us--money that helped us on our honeymoon journey to New Orleans.

8. Serving as ushers were my two brothers and my great college friends (with whom I'm still in touch) Don Bartlett and Claude Steele. Best man was Bill Smith, another college friend, who was already at Duke Med School. He would later spend his entire career in Wooster, OH, as a family physician. I was his best man, too.

9. Waiting with my dad to come out to commence the wedding, I tried to think of a way to thank him. (Such a wonderful father.) And all I could think of--swear, swear, swear this is true--was a line from My Three Sons, that old TV program (1960-72), when Robbie (Don Grady) is getting married. He tells his father (Fred MacMurray), just before they go out to commence the wedding, something like this: "Thanks for making me ready for (worthy of?) Katie [Tina Cole]." So, that's what I said to my dad, too, hoping he didn't remember the line, for he, the father of three sons, watched My Three Sons each week.

10. I was driving a 1969 VW Fastback (dark green), and we left for our first stop on our journey to New Orleans while the reception was still going on. Our first night together as a married couple--at the Holiday Inn North in Columbus, Ohio.

11. We have had thousands and thousands of days together since then. I greedily hope for many thousands more. But as I get older, I more and more know this is impossible, and I more and more appreciate those wonderful lines of the Bard that end his Sonnet 64:

This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

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