|It is said that rain on your wedding day is lucky. If that
is the case, then Lori and Richard are two of the luckiest people alive.|
In the middle of the night, it began to rain. That morning, we could see the rain splattering onto the hotel pool from the window in our hotel room. The skies were covered with thick, gray clouds, and it appeared to be bitterly cold outside. According to the weather forecast, we were supposed to have scattered showers throughout the day, with a high temperature of 55°F - in other words, not the type of weather that I was used to.
John and I got dressed and went downstairs to breakfast. As we ate, Aunt Lotte came out of the elevator and invited us to go up to their room, where Bill and Erika were staying after having arrived late last night. (Grandma and Grandpa Chakowski were staying in the room next door to them.) We did so and found that their suite was a buzz of activity, with people coming and going and getting ready to go to brunch (another of the pre-wedding activities that we had been invited to attend). We stayed only long enough to say our hellos and chitchat for a bit before we returned to our room to shower.
Not that that was necessary. By the time we left for brunch, it was pouring. Some scattered showers.
The brunch was held at the Last Resort Bar and Grill, two blocks from the hotel. By the time we arrived, mimosas and Bloody Marys were already being served, and the rest of the family had already been seated. We spent two hours there, socializing with everyone and showing off our beautiful daughter; then, when the party broke up, the three of us left to share some quiet time before we had to get ready for the wedding.
The first thing we did was stock up on our vacation supplies. Each time we go on vacation, John and I usually stop at a grocery store and buy a Styrofoam cooler then stock it with Diet Coke, beer and/or wine, and orange juice (for breakfast) - and now that we have Mary, we also have to buy milk for her. Then, at the end of our vacation, we discard the cooler - usually, by that time, the cooler is broken anyway! This time, however, we decided to buy a real cooler, because we would have someone to donate it to before leaving.
We bought all of these supplies at the neighborhood Kroger's store, a few miles from our hotel. Kroger's, as you know, owns all of the Fry's grocery stores in Arizona, so we were interested to see that the stores do not go by the Fry's name in that part of the country. We were also interested to learn that we were able to use our Fry's VIP card there, which saved us some money!
After purchasing our snacks and drinks, we decided to take a drive, to kill some time - it was still quite early in the day, and the wedding wasn't until 5:00 p.m.
I'm not sure which street we took, but it wasn't long before we found ourselves outside of the city and into the residential areas.
Growing up in Arizona, I'm used to living in neighborhoods where all of the backyards are fenced in and the houses are spaced very close together. Our house, for example, was built in 1974, but even then, there is only twenty feet between our house and the one next door to us. Houses built more recently, however, are much closer together.
That is not the case in other parts of the country, specifically in the South and in the Midwest. John explained to me that, when he lived in Illinois as a child, it was not unusual for houses to have open backyards, or to have your nearest neighbor several hundred feet away, with a forest of trees in between your properties. That was also the case in Georgia, as we discovered during our drive.
The houses that we encountered were very impressive. We drove past many homes, old and new, some in the old plantation style, others more modern and constructed of red brick. We also found old crumbling barns and new red barns, as well as old country churches, with stately steeples reaching far into the sky and graves in the back. It was very picturesque - like something you would find on a jigsaw puzzle or on a calendar.
We had been driving for a half an hour or more before we began to realize that we were heading too far out of town. We stopped at an old church and consulted the map, only to discover that we had left our atlas at the hotel. Fortunately, we did have the map that we had received from the car rental agency, and from there we were able to figure out where we were. Using that map, we managed to find our way back to the interstate; and, following the signs, we easily retraced our path back into Athens.
The wedding took place later that day, at an old, stone Episcopal Church that was located about two miles from the Holiday Inn. Clad in our very best clothes, the three of us arrived at the church around 4:45, just as the photographer was taking the last of the pictures. We took a seat next to Grandma and Grandpa Chakowski, who were resting in the second to last row - that was where we were determined to sit during the ceremony, just in case Mary decided to throw a temper tantrum during the ceremony. (We're not stupid people, you know.)
More and more guests began to pour into the church, and the ushers seated them one group at a time. We laughed when we saw an usher escort Janice, Danny, and Joshua to the third row - "They are quite brave, aren't they?" I remarked. Just before the ceremony started, though, we heard various sounds coming from Joshua, and at the very next moment, the three of them sneaked to the back of the church. Good idea, for what happened next could have been much worse, had they not moved.
About halfway through the ceremony, during a split second of silence, Joshua - in his best Satan voice - began to growl…loudly! Danny quickly scooped him up and removed him from the church, while the rest of us did whatever we could not to laugh out loud. Even the wedding planner, seated behind me in the last row of pews, lost her cool composure and snickered softly behind her fingers.
The acoustics in the old church were excellent, meaning that everyone, except for the wedding party, heard Joshua's satanic growls during the ceremony. I was approached by several wedding guests who, when seeing me with Mary in my arms, asked me if she was the one who made all those weird noises. "No, that would be her cousin, Joshua," I replied to them all.
Immediately after the wedding, we left the church to go to the reception, which took place at the Taylor-Grady House, a quarter-mile up the street. The Taylor-Grady House is an old plantation house that was built in 1843 by General Robert Taylor. Major William S. Grady later purchased it, in 1863, and his son, Henry W. Grady, lived there during the Reconstruction period, following the Civil War. In 1966, the city of Athens purchased the house and renovated it. It is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Taylor-Grady House fascinated me, as I am intrigued by both the Civil War Era and by historic houses. For me, it was quite the treat to be able to mill around the various rooms of an old plantation house. I enjoyed looking at the antique furnishings and getting a feel for how the "Southern aristocracy" lived.
The wedding reception was fun, with lots of food and drinks - and yes, even dancing, outside in the tent. (John and I left Mary with Bill and Erika so that we could pop outside for a few moments - we danced to two songs before returning to the house.) The highlight of the evening, though, was when Mary and Joshua discovered the staircase. Under our watchful eyes, they both climbed upstairs and found themselves on the landing on the second floor, where there was plenty of space for them to run around. And that's precisely what they did! For about a half an hour or so, Mary chased Joshua around the second floor, in and out of bedrooms and studies and across the landing, giggling in high-pitched squeals. Whenever she caught him, she would give him a hug, which knocked both of them over; then, she would get up and run away, with Joshua chasing after her. It was perhaps one of the most precious moments of the whole trip, and we caught most of it on videotape.
By 9:00 p.m., though, the evening was beginning to wind down, and people were slowly beginning to leave. John and I had been invited to join his parents, Lotte and Richard, and their friends Rick and Shirley in their suite at the hotel - Janice and Danny would also be joining them, even though they were not staying at the Holiday Inn. Lotte offered to find us a babysitter so that we could join them - and so that Mary and Joshua could sleep in peace - however, by the time we left, we were so tired that we decided to skip the after-party in exchange for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. We politely refused the invitation, stating that we would see them in the morning, before Bill and Erika flew back to Phoenix.
John and Mary and I returned to our hotel room, and it wasn't long before John was asleep. In the middle of Mary's bedtime story, he laid his head down on the desk and fell asleep. Mary soon lay down in her crib and did the same, while I relaxed with a crossword puzzle. Suddenly, the phone rang, interrupting their slumber. It was Janice, wondering if we were coming up to the suite for the party! John cursed at her for waking them up and hung up the phone. He then crawled into bed, where he quickly fell back to sleep.
Mary, on the other hand, remained awake for another half-hour, playing quietly in her crib. I could hear her as I drifted in and out of slumber. Eventually, she was silent, and I fell fast asleep.
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