82: “Accidental” Wedding

82: “Accidental” Wedding

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

“Accidental” Wedding

Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail.

~Proverb

I was the second woman letter carrier hired in Kent, Washington, back in the fall of 1968. I’d only worked there a few days when I noticed a tall, handsome man who liked to tease and joke with his co-workers. My postal case of cubbyholes, where I sorted the letters and magazines for delivery on my route, was very close to Mr. Joker’s. I broke the ice when I asked if I could borrow his chair. During the next few days, I found reasons to speak to him. He spoke politely, but seemed quite shy toward me when he wasn’t around others. As the days passed, I noticed him stealing glances at me when he thought I wasn’t looking.

A couple of weeks later, my roommate and I decided to throw a party for a fellow letter carrier who was leaving for Army boot camp and heading overseas to Vietnam. We invited Mr. Joker, and I got to know him that night.

We liked each other and started dating. We found that we were like-minded about our personal values, many things that we both believed in and held dear, and how we wanted to live our lives. We were perfectly matched in so many ways. It was the beginning of an exciting romance that led to wonderful dreams of sharing our lives together. I fell in love with Mr. Joker, and he became Mr. Right.

Three months later, we decided to get married and bought matching engraved gold bands. We rented a miniscule cabin for $70 a month and spent all our free time gathering furniture and dishes from friends and family to feather our nest.

We wanted a very small wedding at a church that was on my postal route. The pastor agreed to perform the ceremony and counseled us on the sanctity of marriage. The pastor’s wife offered to play organ music for us and be our witness, along with one of our mutual friends.

I woke up the day before my wedding to gray clouds and a big snowstorm. All the freeways were clogged with spinouts and stalled cars, and the schools were closed for the day. It meant that snow plows would be out clearing roads and pushing the snow into big heaps in front of the mailboxes on my driving route, so I’d have to be very careful with my mail truck.

As I delivered the mail on that snowy day before our wedding, my mind flooded with thoughts of the ceremony that would take place the next morning, wondering what it would feel like to be married and anticipating the weekend honeymoon we had planned.

Because of the storm, it turned out to be a long, stressful day, but my heart was happy and filled with love for Mr. Right. At my last mail stop at a big apartment building, I picked up three trays of mail and got out of my mail truck. I didn’t realize the snow was so slick. When I stepped around the front of the truck, heading for the sidewalk, my right foot slipped out from under me and I fell, hitting my head on the bumper. I heard bones breaking in my right ankle and leg and felt searing pain. I knew I shouldn’t try to stand.

I lay in the snow for several minutes, worrying about how my injuries would affect our wedding, until a groundskeeper came out of the apartments. He hurried over to me, saw what had happened, and went for help. When he came back, he and a fellow worker linked arms, making a chair for me. They carried me into the apartment building and set me on a couch in the office. The office manager called the post office to let them know what had happened, and then called for an ambulance. They said there were so many serious accidents on the snowy freeways that they didn’t know how soon they would be able to get to me. The office manager found a warm blanket to cover me, pillows to elevate my leg, and a cup of hot tea to comfort me.

Mr. Right heard about my mishap and came to sit with me during the long wait. Two hours later, a mortuary’s “ambulance” came to get me. That’s right, it was the day before my wedding, and I was taken to a local doctor’s office in a mortuary’s transportation van. I know — icky, right?

The doctor took one look at my leg and sent me to Doctor’s Hospital in Seattle. They called in an orthopedic specialist, took X-rays, and then set the multiple fractures in my foot, ankle and leg in a toe-to-hip cast. But the worst news of all was that I needed to stay in the hospital for five days.

There went the wedding!

I was so heartbroken I cried. But I wiped away the tears and decided to see if we could get married in the hospital. I asked the nurse, who checked with the doctor, who said I had to speak to the hospital administrator. He said there had never been a wedding at Doctor’s Hospital, but gave us his blessing. We called the pastor to see if he would make the trek into Seattle the next morning if the roads were safe, and he agreed.

So we were back “on.”

The next morning, my mother brought a frilly white blouse for me to wear in place of my wedding gown. My brother brought a Polaroid camera so he could take wedding pictures. My new mother-in-law brought a cute little wedding cake. My new sister and brother welcomed me into their family. A patient in another room sent me her bouquet of red roses, and other patients brought in their flowers to make our wedding festive.

I didn’t know until later that my dad thought we were rushing into marriage too soon and tried to talk the pastor out of marrying us. My new father-in-law assured them both that we were very much in love and gave the pastor a second offering for his church.

Mr. Right and I exchanged our vows at our “small” wedding in my five-bed ward in front of a multitude of doctors, nurses, caregivers, patients (walking, on crutches or in wheelchairs), and their friends and families.

Despite all the unforeseen changes, it was the most wonderful and memorable wedding any new bride could hope for. And I have five faded Polaroid pictures, plus a yellowed, local newspaper article, to prove that dreams do come true.

~Carol Hurn

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