Wednesday, August 22, 2012
He asks them first, before he gives me a ring. We can't beleive they actually say yes. They say they will sign for me. We pick a date, quite soon, because he's up for the draft. We figure even a little time will be good. They plan the wedding. Quiet. My fathers church. He will marry us. I wear a plain wool suit, creamy white. He wears a suit. And his black cowboy boots. We have no flowers, no music. My sister and his best friend stand for us. Just before the wedding, he gets a letter from the draft board. It grants him a years deferment to finish his apprentiship in the Portland Bricklayers Union. We can't imagine a better wedding present.
As we are leaving the house to go to the church, my mother suddenly balks. She has noticed the black cowboy boots. No. She says she will not go to a wedding with black cowboy boots. Perhaps she has never heard of such a thing? I don't know that anyone cares about what the groom wears on his feet. It's a moment of horror. She cries. I can see by the look on his face that he will not back down. It will be cowboy boots or no wedding. My father is a very patient man. He sighs, from deep down. He has nine daughters. I am the first one to get married. I think he is seeing some long years ahead. He tells the groom to climb up on the kitchen chair. He walks around the chair, scoping out the situation. There is a stillness in the room. We are, none of us, sure what the verdict will be. He is gentle with my mother. It's fine, he thinks. He can't see any reason for her to be upset. She never argues with him. So we get in the cars, a sober bunch, and head for the church.
It is fine. We have been married for forty six years. Every day he wears boots. He still takes such good care of them. They last for years. He has many pairs. I wear cowboy boots, too. As soon as the weather cools down, and fall is here, I get out my boots. I wear them for sunday go meeting. They make me feel tall, and graceful, and I like the sound of them on the floor. I like kicking them off, at night, one after the other, and placing them by my bed.
We have a large family and we don't have much money. We wear hand me downs. Sometimes someone gives us things that don't fit and I take them apart and remake them. Pretty dresses for the girls, wool shirts for the boys. But always they have boots. Once we bought a brand new pair. The little boy laid them proudly near the wood stove at night. In the morning, we see that the puppy has chewed them to shreds. They are taught right a way to take care of their boots, oiling and brushing them, drying them. Our house has lots of boots. One winter he works on a job at the Frye boot factory. He saves and scrimps. He comes home with a pair of brand new boots from the discount room for each of his daughters. They are tall and shiny and stiff. I think he just bought one of every size, maybe. Any way, every little girl has cowboy boots. Do they want cowboy boots? He doesn't think about that. He only feels his heart swell with the joy of this wonderful gift he has given them. They wear them, I think they all get worn out. He still has a few pieces of the boxes that they came in hanging on the sugar house wall. He still cries when he remembers coming home with all those beautiful boots.
Now we have grandchildren. Some of them love cowboy boots. One of them has already crossed over Jordan. His small worn boots still stand on the mantle. When I go there, I touch them. Feel them worn and warm in my hand. I think in Gods heaven he has on his new boots, for dancing all over Gods heaven. I am always on the look out for cowboy boots at swap shops, yard sales, and thrift shops. If I find some, it always makes somebody happy. The teenage girls wear them, now, even, and feel so chic-y. Brooke shops long and hard to find her perfect pair. Tall, colorful, daring. She sends me pictures.
In the last couple years, I have met up with so many people. People that I have not seen for a long time. I wonder how many times I have heard, " Oh, Annie, I remember your wedding! Boone wore cowboy boots! I was young, and I wrote it in my diary...Went to Boone and Annies wedding. Boone wore cowboy boots. Why was that so shocking? " And we laugh, and wonder together, why was that so shocking? My mother is old now, and frail and shakey. The last time I went to visit her, she remembers. Why did I act like that? She thinks she was being silly. She hopes I didn't hold it against her. I love my mother. I pat her hand and we reminisce about my wedding. We only have gay and happy thoughts about that day. She still has never worn boots. No boots of any kind. No work boots, no cowboy boots. She doesn't know what she's missing!
That was then. This is now. All Gods chillun' got shoes (boots). Gonna walk all over Gods heaven.