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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is This Perhaps the Most Disastrous Wedding Ever?

From my dear friend, who's led rather an, um, adventurous life with her geologist husband...

Well, I wouldn’t call it funny but after Timor (Melissa's note: my friend and her then boyfriend escaped the massacre of East Timor in 1975 by sailing back to Darwin on a boat) we went down to Tasmania to reassure his family he was still alive, despite having been shot at and held hostage and losing so much weight. While we were there I ended up in hospital with malaria misdiagnosed as hepatitis, and needed an urgent blood transfusion.

In the meantime we’d talked about moving to Perth, so I applied for and got a job a job at Fremantle Hospital near Perth. Naturally my folks were worried about me too, even before the malaria, so I left Tasmania first to spend three weeks with them in Adelaide before heading west and starting my new job. I’d only been there a day when Randall phoned and said, "let’s get married before we go to Perth." Very romantic proposal...but given what he'd been through, I accepted it at face value.

There was a mad panic to organise a wedding in that time but I did it, church, invitations, flowers, reception, dress, bridesmaid, best man, rings, the lot. Having been forced to leave behind everything we owned in Timor, all I had was what I’d earned at Darwin Hospital after getting out of Timor. I spent the lot on the wedding, which meant I’d have to hit Dad for a loan to get to Perth.

Less than a week before the big day, my fiance was yet to leave Tasmania. Then his grandmother has a TIA – a trans-ischemic attack; that’s a minor incident like a mini stroke in which there’s an interruption to the blood supply to a portion of the brain but not enough to leave any lack of function. His family weren’t coming to the wedding anyway, but he said, "how about we put the wedding off and get married in Perth?" I said, “Fine. I’m going to Perth with or without you, but if I’m not getting married in Adelaide I’m not getting married in Perth. Your choice.”

Two days later he was in Adelaide looking to hire a suit for the wedding.

That close to the date all he could get to fit his still way-too-skinny frame was a heavy velvet jacket, burgundy, and black pants (touches of Saturday Night Fever?). OK, so the photos would be a touch colourful but hey, it was the 70s and we were getting married. Except that it was the height of summer...

As I'd almost expected by this time, the maximum of 42 degrees Celsius (about 105 Fahrenheit) on our wedding day arrived right on time for the ceremony. I was still pretty weak and anaemic after the malaria, so I felt cold when everyone else was hot. Yet even I was sweating under my dress and veil, and my groom's chin was like a trickling tap.

So there we are in the church and the minister’s performing the service - but within a few minutes I’m not hearing anything, because I’m feeling so woozy. I try to lean on my groom, but his shoulder suddenly disappeared – Yes, he was also faint. If my brother (the best man) hadn’t caught him he’d have hit the floor and splattered us all with sweat. I quickly dropped my head between my knees...

The minister cleared the front row and, bless him, married us sitting down. The photos look a little damp – and burgundy – but the reception went off without a hitch, then the wedding night. We had nothing, remember. My husband came out of Timor with what he was wearing. So our wedding night we spent at my parents’ house, in a room right next to theirs with a single bed that squeaked with the slightest move, so we slept on the floor. Next day we flew to Perth and a few days later I was working. We never did get that honeymoon but who cares? We still have each other, 33 years later, and that’s worth far more to me.

Wow. Doesn't this tale make you smile and think, wow, the disasters surrounding my wedding weren't so bad - or do you have a tale to out-tale this?

Melissa J


Anonymous Hannah said...

Wow Melissa, your friend's wedding (and everything leading up to it) certainly was an adventure. Clearly this couple was meant to survive anything!

Nope, can't top that. :)

September 23, 2008 at 4:17 AM  
Blogger Melissa James said...

It was, wasn't it? Crazy stuff, that's for sure. Yet they're still happy, so shows having a perfect day isn't required for a lifetime of happiness.


September 23, 2008 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Myrna said...

These are the types of stories that inspire me. People whose relationships survive and thrive despite hardships are what romance is all about. The extras (decorations, the perfect cake, the perfect flowers, etc.) are great, but they're really not necessary when your relationship is this strong. Love it! Thank you for sharing.

September 23, 2008 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Brandy said...

Whoa! Talk about a series of disasterous events. Glad to hear their love survived it all.

September 23, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Perth Deb said...

What a fantastic tale...one of those stories people probably wouldn't believe if they read it in a novel. And 33 years and still going strong...now THAT'S what I call a true romance.

Deb xxx

September 23, 2008 at 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

Hi everyone, it's Melissa's friend here, just to say I feel privileged that she's including my story. There's a whole lot more she hasn't heard about yet, like the people (all now divorced) who warned us it would never last and tried to split us up, and the death threats and daring rescue mission that saved my then fiance when he was held hostage. We had tried to get married in Timor and invited our parents for the big day that never eventuated. Mine came, his didn't even get their invitation but that didn't matter because at the last minute the priest refused to marry us - long story. So we had a lovely party instead, and then...another long story :)

September 23, 2008 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Gail Fuller said...

Wow, Margaret! That's an amazing story! Congratulations! You two can survive anything! WTG!

All the best,
Gail :)

September 24, 2008 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger Melissa James said...

I've been away a couple of nights, no net connection - hi Marg, you mean there's more??? When do the steak knives appear? :-D Crazy stuff, girl, but your love can obviously survive against the odds!


September 24, 2008 at 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

Melissa, I could have happily stuck a steak knife into one female who stole money from us then tried to distract me by claiming she'd slept with my fiance - except then the drunken letter she wrote him finally turned up (languished in the dead letter section of the Timor post office for a while), warning him she'd get him back for turning her down! We sure had some fun, but I really believe things like this just made the relationship stronger.

September 26, 2008 at 1:52 AM  

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