You know about our blind date, our courtship, and the proposal. The saga continues! Now to our wedding!
We set the date! Saturday, September 18, 1999 would be the happiest day of our lives together to this point. Many months went into the planning of our "day to remember." No stone was left unturned, so to speak, and we were ready! Ready for anything! Anything? Well, not quite.
If you live on the East Coast in the Mid-Atlantic states, or on the Gulf Coast, you know what can happen during the months of June through November! That's right! Hurricanes! Leave it to me to pick a date during which we would have the worst hurricane in decades! Hurricane Floyd came as an uninvited guest to our wedding, and he didn't even bring a wedding gift to congratulate us!
Hurricane Floyd made landfall on Wednesday evening, September, 15, near Wilmington, NC. It was a Category 2 hurricane with peak gusts up to 138 mph. As hurricanes go, it seemed relatively tame, compared to others I have experienced, but what was extraordinary, was the amount of rainfall. Here is the overview of Hurricane Floyd from the National Weather Service in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Hurricane Floyd impacted the East Coast of the United States from September 14 to 18, 1999. The greatest damages were along the eastern Carolinas northeast into New Jersey, and adjacent areas northeastward along the east coast into Maine. Hurricane Floyd produced more human misery and environmental impact in North Carolina than any disaster in memory. The 15-20 inches of rain that fell across the eastern half of the state caused every river and stream to flood. There were 57 deaths in the United States directly attributed to Floyd, and flood damage estimates range near $6 billion. Many rivers set new flood records. Whole communities were underwater for days, even weeks in some areas. Thousand's of homes were lost. Crop damage was extensive. The infrastructure of the eastern counties, mainly roads, bridges, water plants, etc., was heavily damaged.
God spared us the flooding misery that affected other areas of North Carolina. Our county had some flooding in the eastern part, but the main damage was from high winds. There were trees down and some minor damage to structures, consisting mainly, of roofing shingles being blown off.
Our reception was planned for the front lawn of my family "homeplace." My grandparents lived there until their death and then the house was inherited by my mother's youngest sister, who then sold it to her oldest sister, who moved from Asheville, NC.
The front lawn was huge with large pecan trees that were planted by my granddaddy. It was a picture perfect spot for a wedding reception! Until the hurricane! Tree limbs and leaves covered the ground. Not much time for clean-up! But we began. My dad took his tractor and trailer with rakes and pitchforks and others came to help. When we finished with the clean-up with the front lawn, we had to go across the road to the church and begin again!
The church yard did not have as many trees, but one huge sycamore tree was blown completely down and uprooted. How were we going to clean it up in such short time?
Our plan was to ride in a horse-drawn carriage (like the one in "The Proposal") from the church's front driveway around to the reception just across the road. Great plan, but the flooding was so bad in the area where we rented the horse-drawn carriage, the owners could not get out! They kindly apologized and refunded our money! So there went a part of the "dream!"
Several men from the church just "happened" to show up with large tractors, chains, saws and other equipment for cleaning up the tree. I couldn't believe they were doing this for us, without even being asked! God's hands and feet were at work, showing His love for us and the marriage He ordained! How humbled we felt!
I was operating on adrenalin. I was so tired and I think my "nerves" were frazzled. My cousin's husband tried to lift my spirits. He has always been somewhat of a joker, so he was in rare form. While my cousin and I were finishing up with the folding of our wedding program booklet, he asked for K-'s cell phone number. I didn't know what he was up to or I would not have given it to him. He called K- and told him I left upset and crying, had run away and wasn't coming back, or something to that effect! I was right there and realized what he had done! Immediately after he hung up with K-, my cell phone rang. It was K-, crying, asking what was wrong! I had to laugh, but it was not funny to K-! I soon calmed him down and let him know that it was my cousin's husband's way of cheering me up, although I don't think he thought of how it might affect K_.
Another way he tried to cheer me was by putting a wooden cut-out of a frog, sitting holding a fishing pole, right next to my wedding portrait, that was to be displayed at the reception. I ignored it, but I gave my matron-of-honor strict instructions to have it gone by the time the reception started. It did cheer me, so he was successful in his attempt!
The rehearsal was set for 6:00 p.m. We wanted to get a "feel" for how the service would go, because it was also set for 6:00 p.m. the next day, but we didn't anticipate we would have to rehearse by "flashlight." We had no electricity at the church! The high winds had knocked out all power at the church, as well as at my aunt's house, where the reception was to be! We had electricity (never lost it) at my house just next door! Imagine that!
The BIG DAY had arrived! Last minute preparations were being done. Still no power at the church! What were we going to do? I was like a "walking zombie!" I was trying to think of a contingency plan if we did not receive power. I remembered a friend of the family who did contract work for the power company, cutting rights-of-way. I tried to reach him to see if there was any way he could find out when the power would be restored. He said he would see what he could do.
The clock was ticking. Still no power. I had come to terms with the fact that we probably wouldn't have any electricity in the church and we would have to get married by candlelight. Not so bad, I reasoned. Then I saw them! The power company trucks! They pulled into the church yard, then went down the road. Then back into the church yard. They were trying to locate the problem! In a matter of a few minutes, the power was back on, with about an hour to spare before the start of the ceremony! God does answer prayers! I often wonder if the friend of the family, who did contract work for the power company, called in a favor or two. I don't know, but I know God was ultimately in control!
A few other disappointments came our way. Two of the groomsmen were unable to get to the wedding. One could not get a flight into North Carolina from the Dallas/Ft.Worth airport and the other could not get out of his own driveway, except by boat! He and his family weren't harmed in the hurricane, which was a blessing. He lives in eastern North Carolina, where the majority of the flooding occurred. One of my bridesmaids could not get a flight from Washington, DC. either. We were able to carry on in their absence. I'm just glad everyone was safe from the storm!
K- gave me a wedding gift after the ceremony. It was a book by Joanna Weaver, entitled "With This Ring, Promises to Keep. K- wrote a note in the front of the book that included this, in part,
"I know there will be tough times ahead, but if we can withstand a storm like Hurricane Floyd and still "pull off" a wedding, I believe, with God's help, we can do anything!"
I'm a believer!