Wedding Day, August 14, 1976
I saw “The Music Man” when I was 10. That night I sat in my bedroom window, looked up at the stars and sang “Goodnight my someone, goodnight, my love” just like Marian the librarian. I imagined at that same moment my future husband was thinking about his future wife. I hoped he wasn’t any boy I knew because I couldn't stand any of them. The thought came to me he lived in Chicago. The next summer we went there on vacation. When I saw how big it was, I wondered how I would ever find him.
Eight years later I arrived late to a meeting. I didn't want to be there but felt compelled to go. The only open seat was in the front row. I kept my eyes fixed to the floor and sat down. There was a college choir performing and when I looked up a young man was singing a solo. A voice inside my head said “This is the man you will marry.” The voice was so strong and clear I looked around to see if one of my friends was pranking me, but they were sitting several rows back. Later I introduced myself to him, thinking he might take my hand and say “Did you hear the voice too? When do you want get married?” He didn’t, but I learned he was born and raised in Chicago.
His name was George and he proposed a year and four months later. I shouted "Yes" before he got the words out, then told him about "the voice". It was to be the first of many premonitions I would share with him over the years. He no longer gives me the "what planet are you from?" look. He trusts my intuition more than I do.
We’ve been together over half our lives. We still love and like each other. There have been a few conflicts, especially that first year when we divided the household chores and he agreed to do the dishes, then waited until every dish in the house was dirty. Or when I refused to talk when something upset me. (Yeah, I know, what else would you expect from a mime?) He discovered putting fake nose and glasses on made me laugh and once the silence was broken I could finally tell him what was wrong and overcome the fear that disagreements could end the love. That was something I had to learn.
As stupid as this now sounds, I thought when we married I had to give up my dream of being a mime performer. It was George who pointed out that was ridiculous. He asked why marriage to him meant that? I had no answer. It was one of the best moments of my life.
When I became obsessed with the atrocities committed by white people, George asked why dwell only on the negative. Whites were also abolitionists and freedom marchers. He helped me lift my eyes and heart to a larger view.
Today is our thirty-sixth anniversary. Our wedding cost 75 dollars. We were married in our favorite park with a "bring your own picnic" reception. I made the invitations and found my dress on a "under five dollars" sales rack. Friends sang, recited poetry and chanted prayers. We were an hour and a half late, I forgot our picnic basket and a kid fell in the pond. Other than that it was perfect.
We were married at a time when even well meaning people said, "But what about the children?" Some suggested it would better for us to not have any.
Fortunately we didn't listen.
I'm not going to say racism didn't affect our children. It did and does. And it was hard explaining it to them. At first they thought I had to be joking. They had them same reaction when I told them how babies were born.
Now they are both writers. I think soon the world is going to find out the kids turned out better than anyone (even me) could have imagined...
Our daughter, Bahiyyih & grand-daugher...Bahiyyih has a story published in a literary magazine and is close to finishing her book (writing every night after her four kids are in bed)
Our son, Nathan, has just returned from a week at the Kennedy Center where his play "The Wind and the Breeze" was workshopped.
The day George and I got married was a happy day. But I had no idea I would be even happier thirty-six years later.
African Proverb: Happy is the man who is happy with his children.
and I'll revise that proverb a bit: Happy are the grandparents who are happy with their grandchildren...
Thanks, George. We have made quite a pair.