Weddings and Road Songs

Today is my wedding anniversary! It was sweet of God to arrange for me to attend a wedding last night, in the neighborhood where my late husband and I honeymooned so long ago. I drove down after church yesterday and listened on the way to Alexander Hamilton on Audible. I’m more than halfway through that book now, only 17 hours to go 🙂

The wedding stirred up memories of our own youthful idealism and exuberance. I often think about weddings Then and Now and will probably have enough material for a very irritating book before long, so I will leave that topic, except to say that I am comforted that there are still weddings happening, and that one still encounters couples who have a vision of what a marriage can be.

When we left the wedding hall in the Santa Cruz mountains the sky was cold and clear, and Orion and the Big Dipper were sparkling up there as huge and bright as could be. I had to be careful walking the 1/4 mile in the near dark to my car, hungrily craning my neck at the stars with an eye on the mudholes below. Then it was only five minutes back to a humble Airbnb room where I slept soundly in a good bed.

This morning I made use of the organic coffee in the fridge and a French press to brew it in… I indulged in a carafe full. As I was packing my car and finishing my coffee I got a text from a cousin who lives just up the hill from where I had stayed. Yes, he said, we are home, please come.

The house that he shares with his wife is a mountain cabin only a few doors down from the little place where we newlyweds spent a few nights back then. This very cousin had been visiting his parents’ cabin while we were honeymooning and had stopped in to say hello one morning; I remember it vividly. Now here I was with them in that cabin that has been their home in retirement. It was almost as good as being with my children, to be with this man who knew my husband long before I did and misses him, too. They gave me coffee that was even better than my first cups, and listened to as many honeymoon or deathbed stories as I wanted to tell them.

When I made a pit stop on my way out of town I tried to eat some sunflower seeds; my hand shook and I scattered them around in my car. Hmm, I thought, being this buzzy from coffee might be as bad for my driving as being drunk. I texted my friends and asked for prayers that angels would keep me, and calm me.

My whole eight weeks of traveling to Wisconsin and India, I felt that angels were carrying me on their wings, or God was keeping me wrapped in a protective cloud, or however He handles these matters. I had accidents, things went wrong, but no disasters… For decades I’ve believed that on the highways, heavenly hosts intervene constantly between all the hunks of metal barreling along, carrying tender flesh — otherwise all of our distractions would cause many more collisions than actually happen. So it was natural for me to count on angels to shield me from harming myself or others through my foolish coffee-drinking.

I didn’t listen to Hamilton at first, because I had to drive on Highway 17 from the coast to San Jose, which always feels like a fast slalom course through the hills. I knew it would take all my concentration and I wouldn’t be able to pay attention to American history at the same time. So I let the music play through my phone as iTunes always insists on doing, and it began to shuffle through a hundred or more songs in one folder.

I’ve written before about how my husband had been the owner and manager of the iTunes account; in the last three years I have occasionally sorted through and weeded out, and added new songs. Mr. Glad had several songs by Fernando Ortega, and I heard one of them today. It reminded me of the last weeks of my husband’s life, and the many hours when, wanting to play music that was restful to him while not annoying to me, I settled on the songs of this gentle man.

Nowadays I only have one left in my playlists. It doesn’t come up very often, but when I was just getting in the groove of rapid steering wheel work on the curvy road, there he was singing “Road Song.” I’m sure some of you know this song — don’t you think he is singing about angels? I always do. By the way, I never felt the jitters at any time during the next two hours.

I let the music play, and thought about how the words of so many of the songs expressed my experiences of the last hours, or of my marriage, on this day of remembering it in particular. Gordon Lightfoot was singing about “Rainy Day People” and how “They don’t talk back, they just listen till they’ve heard it all.” That was my cousin and his wife whom I had just hugged good-bye.

Tom Petty sang, “We were built to last, on until forever. The world is changing fast, but our love was built to last.” Yes, the love between my husband and me was “built” by Christ Himself.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13)

It was not a nature-study sort of trip I was on, but I did wish I might capture some of the colors around me on my way. Driving home I stopped at a rest area south of San Francisco, down the hill from this statue of Father Junipero Serra who in the 18th century founded the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California. I have seen the statue hundreds of times from the highway but never hiked up the hill before for a close encounter.

The friar had a string around his finger — was he trying to remember something? I stood directly under his pointer to get this view.

Ceanothus (California lilac) was at its peak of bloom right by my car,
and I even got a new bee-at-ceanothus pic (top of page).

California poppies also dotted the hillside, but my favorite display was farther up the road. When traffic came to a standstill on 19th Avenue in San Francisco, I saw out my window by the trolley tracks a crop of those orange flowers brightening that drab space.

Now I’m home again and just under the wire getting this short report done when it is still the today I began to write about. Tomorrow is another day, if God gives it to me, another morning when the mercies of God are new again. That has been my experience, and as long as I’m on this journey that will be my Road Song.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Glad!

19 thoughts on “Weddings and Road Songs

  1. Happy Anniversary, Darling Friend! The first b-day present I gave my husband was a VCR of Fernando Ortega’s “Home” tour. He is now touring with the Irish band Getty music. His hair is grey and he sports a white goatee. He still sounds smooth and assured. Time flies when you’re having fun!! I still play that old VCR tape with joy! Love You

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so filled with a strange sympathy that both sheds tears of joy and grief for you… Your journey down the mountains of Santa Cruz reminds me of my childhood getting sick-feeling in the back seat while Dad navigated either to or from the beach! I’ve also a fear of that drive now, as you so aptly describe it! My sister and I call it “the chariot race.” I was born in S.F. and lived 45 minutes away in Cupertino all my youth…the descriptions of the rest stop correspond to my own memories, my favorite flowers…poppies and mustard grass! It is my parents’ in-laws’ anniversary today…March 20, 1946! 72 years together! Both have lived in Christian love and obedience all their long lives. She has been a great example to me of real love…. Have a joyous day and thank you for faithful sharing!


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  3. Happy anniversary! I hope you thought of the many happy times you had with your lovely husband. Your thoughts on marriage are lovely and I too am always glad when I hear of people wanting to get wed still and not just cohabiting!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Gretchen. Reading this made me think of the reason I started reading your reflections regularly a few years back. I was amused, then pleased, then a bit inspired to hear you call him Mr. Glad. That, combined with the title “Gladsome Lights,” made me realize that, when documented, love and quiet joys in the home and its environs can multiply and bear fruit even in unknown soil.

    I appreciate the effort you put into your posts. I share your feelings too, insofar as that is possible. So now i look for gladsome lights everywhere, and find them often in my own home and family. Gratefully,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Gretchen, I tried to leave a comment on your post about James Le Fanu but I couldn’t see it afterwards. Thanks for leaving your link on my blog. Always enjoy your articulate comments! Loved this post also – we listen to Fernando Ortega too but I haven’t heard Road Song. I’m partial to Traveler:
    Thank you for sharing your Anniversary thoughts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a bit late … but happy anniversary to you both! I feel that phone call from your cousin, and your time with them, must’ve been a divine appointment. How sweet. I’m glad God guarded you while driving, and you are home safe. You sound so thoughtful. I know these last many weeks have stirred up your life, and you are still waiting for the residue to settle. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Orion is one of my favorite constellations. It’s definitely true that marriages have changed over the years, even the thought that a huge reception is necessary. I enjoyed reading all your details of your trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy Anniversary! This is a beautiful post. It sounds like a wonderful weekend in all kinds of ways. Thinking of you also on the anniversary of your husband’s passing.

    I have often been grateful for guardian angels while driving – and especially when sending my teenagers out on the road!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m very behind as usual, but I loved reading this. My husband and I are big Fernando fans, we managed to see him in a small concert on our honeymoon in Pennsylvania many years ago now. Love all these songs you shared and what they brought to mind for you. So thankful that you have had traveling mercies in recent weeks. Happy Anniversary to you and Mr. Glad. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

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