In Windsor, it had been arranged for Gene to stay at the home of Jock and Lizzie McHallam, close family friends, so he wouldn’t get run over in the frenzy of wedding preparations at the McLelland home. Besides, it was traditional that the bridegroom should not see the bride on the day of the wedding until she walked up the aisle of the church to be with him.
He and Chris were able to have time together each evening until the 20th of June, and they enjoyed the great spring weather by walking through Lanspeary Park and along Ottawa St. They really didn’t focus too much on scenery or shops, for they were totally absorbed with each other. After their walk, they would always sit and enjoy the company of Jock and Lizzie each night, before Gene escorted his bride-to-be to her home.
Chris brought him up to date on happenings. There had been wedding showers put on by friends and family, and she told him that they now had all of the basic essentials for setting up house-keeping. He knew she had built up a large hope-chest full of bedding and towels etc, over the years, and he was proud of her and very pleased about her intelligent foresight.
The only time he had seen her show resentment during those pre-nuptial days, was when she talked about the up-coming formal wedding, and the satin gown, and the so-many invited guests. Chris was not a pretentious person, and was frustrated because her mom and dad had insisted on this “showy circus”, as she called it. Why, her dad had even arranged for a bag-piper to pipe them out of the church!
It didn’t matter to Gene. He just wanted to be tied to her legally, and if this was the way it was to be done, he was more than willing to go along with the whims of his future in-laws. He just knew he would be numb through the whole thing anyway.
So he soothed her ruffled feelings, enjoying the opportunity to do so, and got her mind off her frustrations for a bit by telling her of his arrangements for their honeymoon at Sauble Beach, and for the wedding night reservations at the prestigious, Norton-Palmer Hotel downtown.
During time alone with his two kindly hosts, Gene asked about his duties as groom, for the wedding ceremony and festivities. His dad had filled him in on some of the things usually thought to be groom responsibilities, such as flowers and beverages, so in a visit to Maggie and Allan he made arrangements to have a bouquet of red roses for Chris, corsages for Maggie and the four lady attendants, single carnations for the three male attendants and Allan and himself, heather for the entrance to the pews, and appropriate beverages for the predominantly Scottish guests. Allan was right there to help him on these things, and that was great!
The afternoon of the 20th was a busy time at the Giles Boulevard church, with a couple of informal rehearsals and a tired Chris going through the motions. Gene wanted to get her out of there to comfort her, and was also beginning to feel some strain, though he had not been caught up in the center of the action whirlwind as had she.
Then, 3 PM of the 21st was upon him!
The McHallam home was within three blocks of the church, so Lizzie shepherded the two guys through the morning and, lo and behold, at the appropriate time a benumbed Gene was taken to the church by his hosts.
At 3:25 PM, Gene and his party were assembled at the altar with the pastor, while the organ played softly, and the church filled with guests. Tom McNeill was giving Gene strong moral support by his calm presence at his right elbow, reassuring him that the ring was secure in his pocket.
Then, the notes of “Here Comes the Bride” strongly sounded out from the organ, and Chris glided into the aisle leading up to the front, accompanied by her dad, floating along in her beautiful satin gown with train, and wearing a satin and floral coronet. She was holding his bouquet of red roses and was followed by Helen McNeill as matron-of-honor, Nancy Weir as bridesmaid, and two little flower-girls.
Gene was awestruck! He’d never viewed such a gorgeous sight as his lovely lady was in that setting! Suddenly, she was at his side taking his offered hand, and looking up into his eyes with a hint of tears. Her dad retreated to a seat, and the ceremony began.
He was so glad to have her near him, and the vows were clear and strong in his thoughts as he expressed them. Then, it was marvelous to hear her sweet voice firmly committing herself to him. Finally he was able to take the ring from Tom without dropping it, and placed it on her finger, forever! As he looked into her soul through those beautiful eyes, he heard a voice back on earth saying, “I now pronounce you husband and wife, together. Gene, you may now kiss your bride.”
And he did that!!
Then the bag-pipes sounded out, very strongly, playing “Road to the Isles”, and the elated lovers walked down the aisle with the resounding music, and out of the main congregation area, into the little room where the wedding certificate was signed and witnessed.
And it was done! He could now get on with his dreams and plans, all of which were centered on his lovely spouse, this girl to whom he was now forever bonded, his “Once in a Lifetime”, special someone!!
They were piped out of the church by the bagpiper, to the front steps overlooking the gathered guests, where they had multitudinous pictures taken by a professional photographer, and others, and then they were driven to the photographer’s studio for many more formal pictures. After that they were whisked back to the church hall for the reception and the wedding supper and fun and speeches. Spoons rang often on glasses, and Gene never tired of holding his bride and kissing her sweet lips.
About 8 PM, the weary couple was able to slip away to the McLelland home, to change out of their wedding apparel and into travel togs, pick up their prepared luggage and get down to their reserved hotel room.
There, the lovers were alone for the first time in the wonderment of being united as husband and wife, and they tenderly, albeit awkwardly, consummated their love in the freedom of their union. And they clung together, expressing their ardent love for each other, and their consciousness that this was the perfecting of the blending of their souls. The initial fear of the unknown had dissipated in their passion, and they fell into contented sleep wrapped in each others arms.
Now he knew the reason, and the reward, in the discipline of waiting, for with this love-fulfilling act of marriage and nuptial completion was the consciousness of being knit together in body and in spirit, in a bond of fidelity which lifted them both to a level of love and dedication that became a firm foundation for 50 years and 7 months of devotion and commitment to the well-being of the other.
It was apparent to Gene that this was the substantiation of the “déjà vu” feeling!
Quoting the words of the great British statesman and orator, Winston Churchill, in a much different context then he used them, the marriage of Chris and Gene was not the end of his “Odyssey into love”, nor was it the beginning of the end … for it was just the end of the beginning.