Juanita, life partner of Thom who passed away over Christmas, sent us a card of thanks for the flowers and my blog commemorating the celebration of his life. Nestled in the fold were two photographs from 1991. That was the year hubby and I married; as a matter of fact, only a few days before these pictures were taken.
The wedding was a last minute decision with immediate family, I do’s and a cake at the house with immediate family. We didn’t have much of a honeymoon, one night at the Mountain Gap Inn overlooking the Tidal Annapolis Basin spent watching TV. We were rushed for time, preempted by the preparations for the Marblehead yacht race that he was leaving for. I didn’t mind that my new husband would be spending his honeymoon on a 33’ C&C sailboat called “Irie” with a bunch of sweating, snoring, flatulent men; I got the ring on my finger so fair exchange! The plan was to have a large reception when he returned….if he returned….
Back then, I was frightened out of my gourd when it came to the ocean. A non-swimmer with a fear of the water instilled by my father’s neurosis, the sea was a foe not a friend. Living close to Lunenburg with its rich fishing heritage, I was well aware of the scallop draggers sinking to the bottom of George’s Bank, even knowing some of the men that perished at sea. Without any knowledge of recreational water sports, all I could imagine was their tiny boat bobbing up and down like a cork in a bathtub. Ironically, during my first tumultuous marriage to a scallop fisherman, there were times my battered heart wished his boat would go down. Now that I was married to a kind and gentle soul, I worried those past, evil thoughts would come back to haunt me.
When hubby first told me about Marblehead I was not impressed. Sailing there, and racing back to Halifax was a concept I couldn’t fathom. Moby Dick disasters and large freighters crashing into them along the shipping lanes were top of the list of objections. Why he mentioned they would have to cross them going in and out of the Bay of Fundy along the route is beyond me; it only served to add to the gloom I was racking up in my imagination that caused me to be on pins, needles and porcupine quills the entire time he was gone. This doomsday attitude tainted every aspect of the trip even putting a shadow over our recent nuptials.
Back then I was about as worldly as Opie from Mayberry and my irrational fear was the reason we rushed to marry. We’d been living together for some time in one of the apartment units in a building hubby owned and without any legal rights, if he didn’t come back from the sea and I couldn’t make rent, I would have been biffed out on the street with no place to live. That might sound like a selfish reason to tie the knot but I loved this guy to the nth degree, we were going to get hitched anyway, so it gave me peace of mind and got me off his back, what I called a win, win! How I managed to hold it all together until he returned, all salty, tanned and tired to the bone is a mystery.
So I was pretty sullen that morning while waiting for the boat to cast off from South Shore Marine and disappear over the horizon. The photograph of our goodbye hug shows a half-hearted smirk, I was trying to look brave but couldn’t understand the frivolity of the wives and excitement of the other men about to leave. Didn’t they realize the dangers ahead? Didn’t they look at the size of the boat and think holy crap? Whoever said ignorance was bliss was so wrong because I was being tortured from a lack of understanding. On the flip-side, hubby was an experienced offshore sailor, knew the ropes and was ripe for the adventure ahead. I watched the boat grow smaller in the distance until it disappeared behind Shaw Island. My heart sank, he was gone. It was a lonely ride home; I actually cried.
In a rush to get married, we hadn’t thought much about photos, I planned to have them taken at our reception so these pictures are really appreciated. Both of us in big glasses, framed windows perched on noses totally dominating our faces. We look so young……we had more hair……how time flies!
The other photo is of Captain Thom at the navigation table and of course happy hubby, sailing being the #1 passion in his life….I’m not delusional about my #2 position. He probably had more fun honeymooning with the guys than he would have had with me considering we both lack the romantic gene. We joked the honeymoon was over before we married anyway, considering we’d lived together for over two years before saying I Do.
After the Marblehead/Halifax race, if he made it back, we were supposed to have a wedding reception but my mother suddenly passed away from infection from surgery and the plan died with her. I couldn’t celebrate our union with a numb heart. My only solace is that she saw me marry a guy she really loved and respected, knew my life had finally settled after so many years of struggle and unhappiness.
I often wonder how my life would have played out if I hadn’t met my special guy. Through him I have a more open mind, love the water and look forward to lots of sailing in 2015. He is one of the best things that ever happened in my life and I love him even more today than the day we wed. I’ve come a long way baby! Juanita, thank-you for dusting off these memories.