When my husband, Jim, and I married, I understood that it was a lifetime commitment. But I didn’t truly comprehend my promises to “love and cherish for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health; from this day forward until death do us part.” All I knew on that May afternoon was that I was Cinderella and Jim was my Prince Charming who was about to take me on a lifetime journey of perfect love.
That bubble burst about two hours after the wedding.
We had reservations at a boating resort on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas for our honeymoon. Jim owned a 22-foot Southcoast sailboat, and we planned to dock the boat outside our room. We had imagined its white sails filled with gusts of wind as we glided across crystal clear water during our first days together as husband and wife.
When Jim went to get the sailboat after the wedding, he discovered it up on cinder blocks—trailer and all. This not-funny prank delayed our honeymoon departure for a couple of hours.
When we finally began driving to the resort, sailboat in tow, we realized we had visitors. There was an undeniable chirping of a cricket, and soon it was joined by what seemed to be thousands of its friends performing a concert. Crickets started crawling around my feet, and creeping on the front seat of the car where my new husband and I were sitting. EEEEEE! This was not what I had envisioned on my wedding day!
My mom and I had tried our best to think of everything before the wedding, but we sure hadn’t looked up, “How to get rid of crickets on your honeymoon.”
Please understand that Jim and I love animals, and we’re very grateful for every insect and beast that God has created. But that day in May required drastic action. We went to a car wash and Jim vacuumed those pesky creatures out of our life.
Then we drove up some steep Arkansas roads and arrived at the boating resort around midnight. It was a sight for very tired and frustrated eyes. But there was a problem: There was no soft glow of lights in the office. Yes, the door was locked to the hotel’s lobby, and we wouldn’t be checking in that night.
So back down the road we went until we saw a hotel with a parking garage connected to it. As we pulled into the parking garage, the sailboat mast—which was laying flat on top of the deck—scraped the ceiling of the garage and was damaged. We checked in without uttering a word about it being the first night of our honeymoon. It was just Day One of our marriage, and we had already experienced the first test of commitment to our wedding vows.
The next day Jim somehow located an automotive body shop that repaired the damaged sailboat mast. We could almost hear the angels shout “Halleluiah!” … But not for long.
The good news was: That very afternoon we finally made it to Lake Ouachita for a wonderful afternoon of sailing.
The bad news came around sunset: We discovered that as we had pulled the boat trailer from the lake, it ran over some shards of glass and one of its tires went flat. As a young wife, I felt like we were going to be stranded on a deserted island because no one was in sight … and cell phones didn’t exist in that day. I wondered, How are we going to get back to the lodge? Will we die out here after just being married for two days? (Okay, I’m being a little melodramatic here, but you get the idea.)
I have just a faint memory of what happened next, but Jim remembers it clearly. Right after we discovered the flat tire, a rather tall and rugged-looking man was pulling his flat-bottom aluminum boat out of the water. With absolutely no effort he lifted his wheelchair-bound wife out of their boat and carried her, wheelchair and all, to their truck.
This man saw our predicament and offered to help. He said he’d be glad to take Jim and the tire to a corner gas station/grocery store up the road. I stayed with his wife at the marina.
Jim remembers looking at the man’s hands, which were the biggest he’s ever seen on a human being. Ever since then, we’ve called this stranger “Mountain Man.”
By the time they arrived at the gas station, it was well after dark. But you’ve probably guessed it: The gas station was closed.
However, Mountain Man knew the station’s owner, so he called him from a pay phone and asked if he’d come and fix the flat. He agreed! Neither of them would take any payment for it.
That was Day Two.
I don’t have any memory of Day Three. Do you wonder why?
Today, Jim and I can laugh about the beginning of our life together. When we look back at our “perfect honeymoon,” we realize that it was actually a good introduction to marriage. On many days there is no Prince Charming … no Cinderella at the ball … and no perfect life.
The truth is: Many days are filled with at least a couple of flat tires and more than a few unwanted crickets.
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