Saturday, March 10, 2012
Slice #10 of 31
It's actually kind of a crazy story. My sister, Betsy, met her husband, Paul, when they were in high school. Paul lived down the street from us. Every afternoon, after school, he had to take Cherie, his mom's standard poodle, for a walk. Paul hated that dog (he still doesn't like dogs) and he used to walk Cherie down the street, out of his mom's sight, tie her to a post, and hang out at a convenience store by our house. My sister and mom watched "the cute guy with the dog" for several months, and then my mom convinced my sister to go meet him. And she did. And the rest, so they say, is history.
Paul and Betsy started dating during their senior year in high school. My bedroom was right above the front door, and several nights a week, I was privileged to their torrid love scenes, or squabbles, depending on the night.
Neither of them was a big fan of school and when they graduated, Paul went to work managing the pro shop at a racquet ball court. Betsy tried college, but only for half a semester, then came home and went to business school. She became an executive assistant at a bank.
And they got married. When Betsy was nineteen and Paul was twenty. I don't know if anyone thought it would last. They were both so, so young.
Paul and Betsy have been through a lot. When they were married, my sister was an anorexic. Paul walked beside her through several very rough years. And then my dad had stomach cancer. My dad wasn't about to let any of us, the three girls he had always protected, take care of him. And Paul, the son my dad never had, along with my mom, became the primary caregiver. And he was so, so good to my dad.
The last seven or eight years have been especially rough. Paul and Betsy own the business my dad started fifty years ago. The business is connected to the construction industry. The economy has really impacted them. And it's been super, super hard to keep things afloat. Paul and Betsy have had to shut down branches, lay off valued workers, and pray a lot…
It's been a hard time for their family, too. Their kids, now young adults, have both struggled. Are still struggling. My niece and nephew will be ok, eventually, but they have been through some really, really tough times. And Paul and Betsy have had their hearts broken again and again.
Today, they are going to put that all the sadness and hard times of the past few years aside. Because today, Paul and Betsy are getting married. It's kind of a complicated story…
Paul's family was Catholic. His mom was a devout, devout woman of the faith. She worked for the Catholic church for many, many years, first in Colorado, and then in California. Paul and his brother were raised Catholic. They attended mass every week and went to the Catholic high school. My sisters and I were raised in a variety of Protestant churches. Our family was not nearly as devout.
When Paul and Betsy got married, they crossed those faith boundaries. I am only now beginning to understand what a big deal it probably was to his family. Paul and Betsy raised their kids in the Protestant Church, then when the kids were teenagers, the family pretty much stopped attending church.
A couple of years ago, when things were really hard, Paul went back to his Catholic faith. He started attending mass on Saturday afternoons. Soon, Betsy started accompanying him. She decided she would convert to Catholicism. And she has spent the past six months or a year preparing for this change. Betsy and Paul, married for 28 (I think, although it might be 27 or 29) years, have attended classes on marriage and family planning.
I have to confess, I don't quite understand it. I am a follower of Christ. I read my Bible and pray every day. I attend church pretty much every Sunday. I have several friends that are Catholic. But I don't quite understand the tenets of my sister's new religion. I don't understand why my sister and brother-in-law, who have been happily married forever, are not recognized as a married couple by the Catholic church. I don't understand why my mom, who is not Catholic, cannot read scripture in the ceremony.
But today, my sister and brother-in-law are getting married. And I am going to a wedding.