Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. Yay!!   What an interesting time that was so long ago. (I have added three silly bonus stories at the end of today’s article. They make the posting really long, so read them or not – your choice.)

In October of 2012, John and I had gone to his class reunion at the Naval Academy when we found ourselves wandering through shops in Annapolis, Maryland. At some point, he asked me what I would like for an engagement ring. It was clear to us that we were going to get married, but he had not officially “asked” me. Our plan was to get married right after I graduated from Florida State University with my doctorate and just before he started a long Navy deployment that would include stops in places we wanted to visit as a married couple. At the end of our weekend in Annapolis, he returned to San Diego where he was stationed and I returned to Pensacola, Florida where I lived.

During a phone call the next week, I began to share a little more about what kind of an engagement ring I would like when John said calmly, “You input is no longer required.” I was a little shocked and very embarrassed. My inside voice was shouting, “HE BOUGHT ME A RING!! WE ARE GETTING MARRIED!!” My outside voice said something like, “Oh, OK.”

We made our plans quietly. I found flights to bring our parents to Pensacola, made arrangements with a chaplain friend, and booked the chapel. We planned to have a private ceremony in time for John to leave on his long deployment; we would do something more official and public later. My Mom sent her wedding gown to me (I had always wanted to wear it) and in a single afternoon I bought a veil and my bride’s bouquet (silks) and drafted a wedding announcement.

And, then John called me with bad news. He didn’t provide lots of details – I was used to that – John is a submariner, they don’t give lots of details. Bottom line, we could not get married in the place or on the day that we planned. He said that we needed to get married in San Diego and he gave a range of dates. My planning started over.

Soon it was THE WEEK.

I arrived in San Diego on Tuesday before Thanksgiving. John proposed to me and put a beautiful engagement ring on my left hand. (WE WERE ENGAGED!!) We immediately headed to get our blood tests done and our wedding license purchased. The next day we talked with the chaplain who was subbing for the chaplain whom we had scheduled. Then it was Thanksgiving Day and the day before our wedding. We had five family members who flew in that day so Thanksgiving dinner was a salad at the San Diego airport. And, our supper that evening was chicken on the grill.

Our wedding day (the Friday after Thanksgiving) was amazing. It was perfect and over so very, very quickly. We had a beautiful ceremony in the NAS North Island chapel; there were eleven people at the ceremony; and, I wore my Mom’s wedding gown as I promised to love John forever and ever. After a sweet evening meal with the small group of family with us, we set our alarm clock. My sister and folks had an early flight the next morning and we wanted to drive them to the airport to see them off. John’s folks stayed several more days and then they were gone.

We were married. It was crazy and amazing and wonderful. And, John left for what was later called “Desert Storm” less than two weeks after our wedding ceremony.

CAPT SteinAs I think about it now, I know that we did it our way. No other couple would have been married in this crazy way – only us. As you reflect on your “gatherings” of past years, rejoice in the fact that your experiences are unique. You have been blessed with memories that no other person or family has. If you can, take a minute to make a quick call to someone you love and do a “do you remember the year…?” time of rejoicing. Our memories can help us to bind family and friends together in love.

Happy anniversary, Darling!!

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  (Genesis 2:23-24)


Silly Story 1: When we arrived at the government building where marriage licenses were issued, we found that the line to get a marriage license was very long; we might be waiting for an hour or more. As we stood there, we noticed that the line next to us was much shorter. In the end, we stayed in the marriage license line, but we were pretty tempted to move over to the “Register an Alias” line! (Only in California!!)

Silly Story 2: Because we had limited time, we had our blood tests completed at a lab that promised “express service” for an extra $50. It was while we were sitting in the hallway of the medical building that I realized that I needed to “fess up” to John. You see I had been diagnosed with a medical condition many years before meeting John. He knew all about my health issues but I had never told him that the literature indicated that a blood test might give a “false positive” result for syphilis. As I shared this information with him, we both got the giggles. How would the medical tech share the results with us: Would I be called into another room? Would John be called into another room? Would we still get a marriage license? In the end, it must have all been fine because they gave us the right paperwork and we got our license.

Silly Story 3: The chaplain (a Navy Captain) we had talked with about performing the ceremony called us at the last minute and told us that a family emergency had called him away; he made arrangements for another chaplain (a Navy Lieutenant) to perform the ceremony. A couple of days before the ceremony we met with the Lieutenant to work out details. As we started talking through ceremony options (e.g. taking communion or not, wording of the marriage vows, etc.), the Lieutenant would turn to John with each decision and ask something like, “Sir, Is that what you desire?” After this had happened a few times, I started laughing and accused the Chaplain of being a fraud; I was concerned that I was the victim of two sailors working out some kind of pretend marriage ceremony scam. John laughed with me but I think that the Lieutenant was either a little offended or afraid of me. Poor guy, here he was being appropriate to the rank structure and I was giving him a hard time!!

{John writing – attested: the above “silly” stories are true, to the best of our recollections; if not, they should be.} Love you too, Sweetie.


1 thought on “Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

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