January 18th is my mom's 79th birthday (should I tell her age?!) She lives in New Jersey and is about as active as anyone I know--sometimes I say she has more of a social life than I do! She runs around with her friends, volunteers, babysits her grandkids, travels to Wyoming and Alaska and exotic islands, reads lots of books, and enjoys life. We don't get to see her as much as we'd like to (I think you have to get on her schedule a couple of years in advance haha) but we always have fun when we do. Happy Birthday, Mom...we have to start planning something big NOW for your 80th next year! We love you!
January 18th also marks 5 years since Rich and I got married. We had kind of a crazy long distance relationship for a few months and then I packed up and moved to Unalaska. Some of my Texas friends thought I had lost my mind. My friend Jim even said, "You don't know how many other women he's lured to Alaska and buried in the ice somewhere." I think he was only halfway kidding. At that time, none of us were familiar enough with Unalaska to know that there's very little, if any, ice! Originally I wanted to come back down south so my girls and my good girlfriends could be present with me at my wedding--OR I wanted everyone to come to Alaska. With airfare being what it is, the second option soon disappeared. For awhile I still held out hope that we could have a wedding somewhere that all of our loved ones could attend but it just started seeming less and less feasible. One day we were discussing what to do about getting married and it suddenly hit me that my big wish was not going to be very workable. So we decided we would just have a simple ceremony at the courthouse in Unalaska. I was working at the Community Center at the time with a rotating schedule. Rich asked, "When's your next day off?" I said, "Tuesday." It was kind of a happy synchronicity that Tuesday was my Mom's birthday as well. We had a couple of days to plan. Went and got a marriage license. Started looking for rings. Could not find any that we liked. Who wants to spend a fortune on rings you don't even like?! We then decided we would buy anything just to have a ring for the ceremony and would get something better next time we traveled. It then became a funny little adventure. We almost bought "mood" rings but I couldn't find one to fit. We then settled on a $3.50 thin band for me (that was too big and kept falling off) and a weird looking tiger head ring for Rich. We were cracking up.
Because I couldn't have my girls, I decided I didn't want any "bridesmaids" (which sounds a little silly when you are 50 years old, right?) so we just asked a couple of Rich's coworkers, Willie and John, to be our witnesses. We did not want to have a big deal so we did not invite anyone else. The day of the wedding, we couldn't find John anywhere, so at the last minute, we asked another of Rich's cooks, Ceasar, to fill in. My Texas friends sent us a big vase of flowers, from which I picked a few to make a small bouquet. Off to the courthouse we went and John rushed in at the last minute. In the blink of an eye, we were married. As we walked out of the building, we were surprised by several of my coworkers and a bunch of the Kindergarten and 1st grade after-school kids. They had filled our car with balloons, painted the windows and tied cans to the back bumper. My coworker Terry put a fuzzy tiara on my head and one of the little girls started singing "here comes the bride, all dressed in.....brown??..." I was wearing a beige skirt and jacket and she thought that was very odd.
The following weekend, we crammed a crowd of people into our duplex for a little reception. Such fun! Five years have just flown by and we are still having a big ole adventure, whether sitting in the living room reading, enjoying community activities in Unalaska, or traveling across the country together. Life is good every day. It was a major leap of faith for us but the best leap of faith I've ever taken. Thanks, Rich, for a happy, peaceful life. I love you!