By Dr. Daisy Joy Espejo-Torina
My mother did not have a church wedding. But she married a constant partner: constantly caring, loving, supportive, faithful. After more than 40 years, they are still together, inseparable, not wanting to be apart for long periods of time. I think my father becomes helpless when my mother is not around and not just because he can’t take care of the laundry and dirty dishes. He worries when she travels alone because she frequently stumbles on nothing when she walks (he believes it’s because she’s flat-footed) and he wants to be constantly on her side to catch her in case she falls.
I remember my mother’s collection of Emilie Loring romance novels. I read all of them not just once when I was growing up. Those were the books my father gave to her during a long period of recuperation after her accident. The bus she was riding on fell into a ravine. She sustained a fractured femur. She had to undergo surgery and physical therapy. My father was still wooing her that time. He would be the arms that supported her while she was learning to walk again and the “bee” that would bring her presents in the form of romance novels to keep her company in the hospital. One particular book bore the words “From a bee to a rose…” My father’s name is Badong therefore “Bee” and my mom is Rose.
I think it was on their 30th anniversary that my mother wanted a church wedding. It must have been the little girl in her wanting to fulfill a dream. After all, her children’s lives have reached a certain stability at that point, it was time to indulge in a little bit of “me time.” But our family faced an unexpected turn of events, so she had to put that dream off and put her children’s needs ahead once more.
I did not have a church wedding. That must have given my mother heartache. What mother wouldn’t want her daughter to get married with the blessing of the church? I know it’s what I want for my own daughter. Somehow, I feel deprived of what must be a euphoric experience although I know walking down a church aisle would have horrified me. I want all that for my daughter: I want a diamond ring on her finger, I want the white gown and the veil, I want the church and the flowers. I want her to experience what two generations have been deprived of.
I thought a church wedding does not guarantee a lifetime of wedded bliss. Statistics show that fifty percent of marriages end in estrangement (look at the extravagant celebrity weddings that ended in divorce). I drew inspiration from my parents, their bond seemed perfect despite the absence of church blessing. But now I realize that how much a man gives must be directly proportionate to how much he loves you. If he deems it appropriate to sacrifice 3 months’ worth of salary to buy you an engagement ring, then he must find you precious enough to deserve such sacrifice. If he weds you in church in front of a multitude, then he must be so proud to have you for a wife, he wants everyone to know.
What made my parents’ love story last must have been love itself, nurtured from the time my father took my mother’s arms and guided her as she took unsure steps after her accident to the very last day that my mother will stumble as she takes flat-footed steps, his arms will be there to catch her, to support her, ever steadfast, ever constant.#