The Story of Us

June 21, 2015

I watched as my Dad finished writing out the last of the checks for the wedding of my dreams. It was almost midnight on the night before my wedding and I was sitting at the dining room table with my parents. We were talking, laughing and reminiscing about the events of the day. We had the rehearsal earlier that evening and everything had gone according to plan including the wonderful rehearsal dinner with all of the wedding party plus the multitude of family that had flown in for the event. I was born in Maryland, grew up in California and now lived in Indiana so many of our family and friends had to travel a very long distance to join us for the celebration.

Yes, everything was going along as I had planned it and that was just the way I liked my life to go. I am a strong “J” on the Myers-Briggs personality test which means I am a planner. I love lists and I thrive on organization and planning in advance. Planning my wedding had been a huge undertaking, but I loved every minute of it. I had checklists from every bride magazine I could get my hands on. I would revise and edit and re-do the lists as the wedding got closer. I probably went a little overboard on the lists, but I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget anything important and didn’t want to leave anything up to chance.

While we were sitting there at the dining room table my mom and I started writing out our “to do” list for the next morning. Make up, hair, flowers for the sanctuary, centerpieces for the reception, bags to pack for the honeymoon, etc. There was so much to accomplish that I contemplated not even going to bed. However, I am not a very happy girl when I am sleep deprived and I didn’t think my fiancé, Dwight, would appreciate a scowling bride walking down the aisle towards him. The advice my dad gave to Dwight before we got married was “If she’s grouchy she either needs food or sleep … or both”. My dad knew from years of living with me that this advice would come in handy to Dwight. So whenever I am grouchy Dwight just hands me a cookie or suggests that maybe I need to take a little nap. Because Dwight, like most husbands, had realized there is a lot of truth in the saying “happy wife happy life”.

My father was a minister so he was not only giving me away but was also performing part of the ceremony. He was co-officiating with Stan Banker, the pastor of the church where I had met Dwight. We were both in the youth group there and had started dating when I got the nerve up to ask Dwight to the winter formal at our school. It was a Sadie Hawkins dance where the girls were supposed to ask the boys. Being shy and new to the school I was nervous to ask Dwight because I feared rejection and wanted to make sure he would say “yes”. So, I had a mutual friend of ours, Matt McGraw, do some investigative work to see if Dwight was interested. Matt reported back to me that Dwight would say “yes” if I asked him – all I had to do was ask. I was still a bit apprehensive about asking him so I decided to take the easy way out and write a note. Dwight sat behind me in Mrs. Wood’s history class so I wrote a note that said “Will you go to Winter Dance with me?” Below that I put a check box for “yes” and a check box for “no”. I carefully folded the note up, made sure the teacher wasn’t watching and tossed it over my shoulder so that it would land on Dwight’s desk. After what seemed like hours, but in actuality was only a few minutes, Dwight tossed the note back to me. I slowly unfolded the note to see that he had not checked the “yes” box or the “no” box but that he had made a new box that said “Yes, definitely, of course, I’d love to”. I smiled and felt my heart skip a beat.

The years since that day had flown by. Dwight and I finished High School and went onto college. Dwight was my high school sweetheart and although we had broken up a few times over the years I always knew we would end up together and I couldn’t imagine spending my life with anyone else.  We talked about our hopes and dreams for the future: graduating from college, finding wonderful jobs, getting married and having kids. We even picked out names for our future children and talked about what we imagined they’d look like and who’s personality they’d inherit. We knew they would be adorable, funny and very smart – perfect in every way. Of course, we had no idea that our hopes and dreams for our family and our idea of “perfect” might not be what God had in mind. In the years to come we would learn more about what it means to truly trust in God and have Faith even when things may seem hopeless.

I vividly remember the night Dwight proposed to me. He had taken me to Olive Garden for dinner and then we had gone for a walk on the boardwalk near our college campus. There on the boardwalk, underneath a starry sky, Dwight asked me to marry him and to become Mrs. Dwight Elliott. After I said “yes” he told me that he had gone to my parents earlier in the day to ask their permission to marry me. I didn’t know which amazed me more – the fact that he had thought to ask my parents’ permission or the fact that my mom had been able to keep it a secret. My mom has trouble keeping secrets … she gets so excited that it’s just hard for her not to share. I have realized that I may have inherited that trait from my mom because I also find it extremely hard to keep a secret and the more exciting the secret the harder it is to keep! I think Dwight knew that it might be hard for my mom not to share this news with me so that is why he waited to ask my mom and dad for their permission until just a few hours before he planned on proposing.

IMG_7502As my Dad closed his checkbook and my mom and I finished up our list I remember thinking that this wedding had been much more expensive and time consuming than I ever imagined. The last 9 months had been a blur of bridesmaid dresses, flowers, photographers, and reception details.   Even though I was having what I considered to be a “modest wedding” it still ended costing more than I ever imagined. I was shocked at how fast everything added up. “Wow”, I remember thinking, “no wonder some people just elope. Think of all the time and money that could be saved!” However, I had been like most little girls and had dreamed of my wedding day for as long as I could remember and I would never have been happy to just run off and get married at the courthouse or even on some romantic island. I wanted a wedding in a church with bridesmaids and all my family and friends in attendance.

The next morning I awoke with excitement and anticipation. I was just sure everything would go perfectly and the wedding would be one that everyone would talk about for years to come. The wedding was not until 2:00 pm, but the morning flew by and before I knew it I found myself standing beside my Dad at the back of the church listening for my cue to walk down the aisle to marry my best friend. Everything went perfectly during the ceremony and we were introduced as “Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Elliott”. We walked out of the church as husband and wife to the music of Harry Connick, Jr. singing “It Had to Be You”.   There was a limo waiting for us outside the church to take us to the reception.   I had never been happier in my life and the future was full of possibility. I could hardly wait to begin this new chapter in my life and looked forward to the life Dwight and I had planned together.

That was 22 years ago and we have been through a lot since then. As Dwight and I celebrated our anniversary last week I looked back over all that we have been through together. Things have not always been easy and life has not gone as perfectly as the wedding ceremony. (I guess I learned it was a lot easier to plan a wedding than to plan our lives!) However, I know there is no one else I would rather have by my side, in the good times and the bad, through the happy times and the sad. Happy Father’s Day to my sweetheart and best friend! Thanks for being such an awesome Dad to our four children and a wonderful husband!

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What’s That Smell?

January 27, 2011

Ethan came up to me the other night and asked, “Wanna smell my armpit?” I gracefully declined but he persisted and said, “C’mon Mom … it smells really good! I used some of that stuff Drew puts on his armpits to make them smell better.”  I chuckled and then said, “OK … come here and let me smell.”  I took whiff and told him he smelled great. “Yep”, Ethan said proudly. “Now I smell just like Drew!”

When Drew was a toddler his favorite show to watch was Jim Henson’s “Bear in the Big Blue House”. He watched it on TV and also had videos (VHS tapes at that time) and books so that he could visit Bears Big Blue House and hang out with Ojo, Tutter, Treelo, Bear and Luna whenever he wanted.  One of my favorite songs from that show was “What’s That Smell?”  The main character, Bear, would bring his big, brown fuzzy nose up to the screen , sniff and say “Do you smell that?” and then break into song.  “What’s that smell? Smells like cornflakes, or maybe pancakes, a glass of milk and something swell. What’s that smell? Smells like clean clothes, tickling my nose, warm pajamas and soap as well.” 

The song had a catchy tune but it also made me think of how smells remind us of certain people, places or times in our lives.  We may catch a whiff of a cologne or perfume that reminds us of a loved one or maybe we smell a food that reminds us of a memory from our childhood.  Some smells that bring back memories for me are the smells like the heavy chlorine from an indoor pool that reminds me of my days on the swim team in high school. Or the smell of Desitin that reminds me of when my kids were babies and I spent most of my days smelling of Desitin and spit up.  Then there are those smells that are just relaxing and calming, like the smell of fresh rain or the ocean breeze. Speaking of relaxing smells, when our kids are sick or they are having trouble sleeping I have found that if I give them one of my pillows it helps them to relax because, as they say, “It smells like Mommy!” 

Last Spring Emma and Ethan had a field day at school where they participated in lots of fun outdoor games and events.  They were, of course, very dirty and smelly when they got home so I gave them baths before bed.  Emma was in the bath to wash off all the sweat and sunscreen when she looked up at me, smiled and said, “I smell just like vacation!”