Forty years ago, today, I made a big change in my life.
I got married.
I had already graduated from college.
I had already gotten a job.
Now was the next step.
I met her as one of the Williamsburg girls.
Four roommates who entertained us and kept us fed through large amounts of hallucinogenics and craziness.
Yet somehow the group started to fracture and I choose Ms. Rowan.
We had little in common and only communicated by letters.
Long bus rides brought us together for brief moments, but she was the right age and the time was right to settle into a normal behavior.
Since never having a "girl friend" or a "steady", I figured getting married guaranteed a constant companion.
It was another party to me.
I guess she planned the whole thing. I don't remember much about getting the Wren Chapel or invitations or any of that planning stuff. Don't how she and her mom planned all of this.
But, first, we had to get the rings.
We went down the street to a custom jeweler and ordered two rings. Each was to have circles to indicate lasting love.
I had gone out and bought a off white linen suit to wear with a crape black ruffled shirt and red velvet bow tie.
The night before the occasion, we went into a hotel room (don't remember how we got the room but there were a bunch of friends and I in this swanking room). We drank a little wine to cheer the next day and then everyone (but one of my "best" men) split, so he stayed in my room as a cheap place to stay the night or to keep an eye on me to make sure I didn't leave.
The morning of the wedding, I remember getting dressed in this outfit like a gun fighter getting ready for a show down on Main Street, but when I looked around, I didn't have any BLACK socks.
I normally wore tennis shoes and white socks, so when I when into my bag of tricks, all I had was GOLD socks.
My friend and I walked down the Duke of Gloucester Street as if we were gunning for the James Gang sending tourist to the side in wonderment.
The Wren Chapel had been chosen as the occasion site.
I remember choosing songs for the wedding, but I don't remember the list. "A on a G String" was one, but I'm sure they were appropriate for the time.
As the crowd gather, which was small due to the space, mostly family and friends, I climbed into the upper level to find that the student of J.S.Darling had been replaced by the master. I sat in awe of the pipe organ until I was reminded "I was getting married."
We did not want a traditional ceremony, but it was.
She had a wonderful gown. Her brides maid accompanied her with her strawberry smile.
We walked together into the chapel to my mother's brother who performed the ceremony.
August 7, 1971
“We have gathered here to ask God’s blessings upon Clifford and Linda as they become one in the holy union of marriage. In the beginning God who made Heaven and Earth and then created man, saw that it was not good that man should be alone in His creation and so He made a woman and brought her to the man. This coming of woman to man constitutes holy marriage which is instituted by God and regulated by His commandments. “
“In the second chapter of Genesis, verse 24, we read, ‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and the two become one flesh’.”
“Each man, though an entity unto himself, is part of God’s greater creation. The love of God unites all men in spiritual brotherhood. Within this brotherhood a man and a woman find each other and desires to become husband and wife. A separate love is vowed between the man and the woman, which brings them together in spiritual union. This man “Clifford” and this woman “Linda” ask us to join them in the presence of God as they exchange their vows of love for one another.”
Let us pray.
“Almighty God, we pray that you will favor these two who come before you to be joined in marriage. Help them to grow together in heart and mind that they may move through life as one under your guidance and protection in the name of Christ our Lord. Amen.”
“Clifford and Linda look to each other for companionship; they wish to share the everyday hopes and failures, joys and sorrows of life together. With respect for one another’s personal rights, they willingly give and thankfully receive the spiritual, psychological, physical and material blessings of marriage. “
(Minister takes Linda’s right hand and places it in Clifford’s right hand)
“Clifford and Linda, do you understand that to this marriage you must bring in addition to your love, the will to work together, the will to accept sacrifice, the will to reach compromise and the will to dream?”
Clifford: “To you, Linda, I give my love, my will to work, to sacrifice, to compromise and to dream.”
Linda: “To you, Clifford, I give my love, my will to work, to sacrifice, to compromise, and to dream.”
“What symbols of love do you have for each other?”
Clifford: “I give this ring.”
Let us pray.
“Bless, O Lord, this ring that he who gives it and she who wears it may abide in your peace, and continue in your favor unto their life’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
Clifford: “To you Linda, I give this ring of circular design, representing my unending love. I give it willingly and joyously, as a promise of the greater existence and fuller life I wish to begin with you.”
Let us pray.
“Bless, O Lord, this ring that she who gives it and he who wears it may abide in your peace, and continue in your favor, unto their life’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. “
Linda: “And to you Clifford, I give this ring of circular design, each circle represents a phase in the life we begin together today. The various phases of our life will be bound together with unending love, just as the circles in this ring are bound together to form a greater whole.”
Let us pray.
“Most merciful and gracious God, of whom the whole family in Heaven and Earth is named; bestow upon your servants the seal of your approval, and your Fatherly benediction; granting unto them grace to fulfill, with pure and steadfast affection, the vow and covenant between them made. Guide them together, we beseech you, in the way of righteousness and peace, that, loving and serving you with one heart and mind, all the days of their life, they may be abundantly enriched with the tokens of your everlasting favor, in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
“By the authority committed unto me as a minister of the Church of Christ, I declare that Clifford and Linda are now Husband and Wife, according to the ordinance of God, and the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia; in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance to shine upon you, and give you peace; both now and in the life everlasting. Amen. *”
*The Book of Common Worship, pp. 186-188.
**NOTE: A lot of the "God" stuff was added due to the fact my uncle was a preacher and would not perform the ceremony without it.
We left the chapel to a welcoming crowd, then were whisked away to the hotel (that I still don't remember) and a reception that I was not prepared for.
After the cake ritual, she changed and we were back to Richmond.
A married couple.
In September 1979, we separated.
On November 21, 1983, it was over.