96: Honeymoon Havoc

96: Honeymoon Havoc

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

Honeymoon Havoc

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.

~Patrick Young

In 1966, I married a man who had custody of his three daughters, ages seven, five and three. The two older girls were our flower girls, all dressed in bright yellow and so excited to be in a wedding! The youngest was guarded closely by my husband’s parents so that she would not run out into the aisle and try to be a part of the festivities!

When it was explained to the girls that Daddy and their new stepmother would be off on a honeymoon just after the wedding reception, Donna, the oldest of the girls, cried. Daddy tried to comfort her and make her understand that we’d only be gone for three days, driving from Claymont, Delaware to Atlantic City, New Jersey and back. All three girls could not fathom why they couldn’t go with us! It made it hard to leave them, but we promised as soon as we returned that we’d be fixing up their bedrooms at the house we’d purchased and getting ready to move into it as a family. We said our goodbyes at the reception, witnessed some tears all over again, and tried to dry our own tears inconspicuously as we sauntered to our getaway car.

The only thing I really remember about the drive to Atlantic City in our car decorated with “Just Married” signs was a moment on the freeway that we passed a car packed full of nuns. All of them smiled and gave us the thumbs-up sign!

I remember being a shy, nineteen-year-old new bride, about to take on a marriage with three built-in children. I admittedly was a little frightened about it, but I already loved the girls and their father to the point where there was no turning back. My enthusiasm and faith that we could make a wonderful life together were giving me the hope to jump into this wholeheartedly.

Since it was the middle of June, I had a suitcase packed with summer things. I figured a nice dress to wear to an upscale restaurant, a bathing suit, and an assortment of tank tops and shorts were all I needed. The forecast called for a little rain the next day, but we figured it would be short-lived, and we’d have lots of wonderful time on the beach.

Boy, were we wrong! A hurricane off the coast of Florida took a different turn from what they had projected, and no sooner were we checked into our motel when the rain and wind started! With the television in our motel room tuned into the weather forecast, we discovered we were in for hurricane winds and heavy rain the whole stretch of our honeymoon. I’ll never forget the size of the waves, larger than I’d ever seen before! I used our movie camera to film wave after crashing wave from the motel windows. I wanted to always remember this!

When it got close to dinnertime, we’d decided on a nice restaurant on the boardwalk where we could eat seafood for dinner. I put on my dress and fancy shoes and realized it was sleeveless, and the temperature had dropped at least ten degrees out there! Poking my head out the door onto the balcony, the cold air and rain washed over me and I shivered. There was no jacket or umbrella available because I had not even thought I’d need those things in the middle of June at the beach!

My husband ran down the boardwalk to the nearest store in search of an umbrella or rain cover-ups that he could buy. No luck. He returned looking like a drowned cat.

All I could do was improvise. I grabbed the only “cover” I had — a large, gaudily striped beach towel — and wrapped it around myself. My husband grabbed a newspaper and spread it out over our heads as we dashed for our car in the parking lot.

I guess we turned a few heads that evening in the restaurant, but we had some great laughs about the whole situation! We went from dinner to a movie — the only movie playing on the boardwalk that night — The Ten Commandments. (A little irony there with the roaring waves in the background and the parting of the Red Sea!)

It wasn’t long after we were back in our motel room that we realized how much we missed his girls. Neither of us had to say it out loud, but we knew we were thinking the same thing. Why stay here another night in a hurricane when we could be back with them, getting ready to start our new life together as a family? As we snuggled close, I looked up at him and said, “Would you mind if we went home tomorrow instead of staying another night?” I could tell by the look in his eyes that I was a woman after his own heart and always would be!

And so we drove home to the delight of three little girls and began our life together. Forty-five years and six children later, I can say it was well worth a short honeymoon to begin our great adventure as the Walker family. We often unveiled the old movie camera over the years and watched the footage of wave after roaring wave coming into the beach at Atlantic City — not to forget the short clip of me running to the car in a fancy dress draped with an ugly striped beach towel!

~Beverly F. Walker

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