Chapter 10 – The Wedding

1981 – Shortly after The Captain gave me the ruby engagement ring, we moved from my little apartment in Thibodaux to a rent house in his home community of Dulac, meaning “of the lake” because it sits on the edge of Lake Boudreaux.  Bayou Grand Caillou, which means “big rock”, runs through the community.  It’s the same bayou we traveled to the Gulf when I worked with him on crew boats the year before. Actually, there was so much water around, that every house seemed to have at least one boat sitting in the yard or tied up at the edge of the bayou.

Dulac, largely populated by French-speaking Houma Indians, was a fishing community. The men typically either worked on seafood-harvesting boats or in the oil field.  The women mostly worked in the shrimp factories and cared for their families at home. Jobs in the oil industry were plentiful, as offshore drilling and production were in their prime.  It wasn’t a very big leap to go from running a fishing boat to running an oil field boat.  For me, the jump went the other way, which I’ll talk about later.

Having left the work of a deckhand behind and my face turned back toward college, the fall semester began for me at the age of twenty-five.  Since I was in a new field of study–elementary education–I had to start at the first level for many of the education classes, making me the oldest student in most of them. During the semester, The Captain and I made plans to marry during the Easter break of my spring semester.

The wedding was initially planned to take place back in my home town of Bossier City, but when my future mother-in-law balked at making such a long trip, I opted to get married closer to home.  By this time, I had visited the Presbyterian Church in Houma a couple of times and felt welcome.  The pastor there agreed to marry us, requiring us to meet with him once beforehand.  I can’t remember why I made this decision, but in lieu of marrying at the church, I wanted to marry in the rent house we were living in at the time.  Sometimes, I wonder who that young woman was back then with her unwavering ideas about how things should go.  In hindsight, I guess I wanted to make attending the wedding as easy as possible for The Captain’s family.

So, the date was set and wedding plans got underway, starting with my idea of a wedding dress.  Houma wasn’t as sprawling as it is now with shops and boutiques, but I managed to find a fabric shop where I chose a pattern for my dress and The Captain helped me pick a beautiful champagne-colored fabric and matching lace for the bodice and sleeves.  There was a gifted Native American seamstress in Dulac who made the dress for me at a very reasonable price.  I don’t remember who, but I found someone to make my bouquet from silk flowers I had chosen to match my dress and the flower garland for my hair.

My only attendant was the wife of one of The Captain’s best friends, who had become my friend over the past year or so.  I picked a pattern and fabric for her dress as well.  Peach was, I know not why, the color I chose.  The house was decorated with silk flowers of the same peach color, and she helped me with the decorating.  The cake would be made by a local woman who was known for her baking and cake decorating skills.  The invitations were mailed, and we were all set for April 4, 1981 as our day to tie the knot.

The wedding came off without a hitch, but it seems strange to me now that I don’t recall having had any music.  With both of us being so musical, that does seem strange, doesn’t it?  The house was small, so maybe there was just no need to be so formal in such a homey space.  I do remember Daddy walking me up the hall into the living room, with the Best Man and Matron of Honor standing with the pastor, waiting.  As I looked around the small room, the closest of my family were there—Mom, Dad, Big Sis and her children; Lil Sis and her intended.  There was The Captain’s father, his oldest sister, his niece, his first cousin, but someone was missing.  His mother was not there.  Turns out, she felt The Captain was too old to be in love at the ripe age of thirty-two.  Besides, this girl he was marrying was from another world, and right she was.

But I didn’t let her absence upset me or spoil the evening.  Her absence didn’t seem to bother her son, so why should I let it bother me?  It was then I decided that I would always respect her decision not to be there, and that I would not let it come between us.  I would be the best daughter-in-law I could be, whether she wanted to have me as hers or not.  And now, some thirty-one years later, I have managed to live peacefully with the whole family. Considering The Captain had seven siblings, and all of them with spouses, children, and grand children, I think that is saying a mouthful.

While we were planning a wedding, my parents were planning their second trip to Hawaii, so we decided to go with them for our honeymoon. It was a great decision, and by booking a package deal through their travel agent, we got lots of perks we would not have enjoyed trying to wing it alone.  We left for Hawaii one week after the wedding.  The night we arrived, we drove up to the hotel, and not knowing where to enter, The Captain and my father got out of the car to inquire.  As they rounded a corner, a big Hawaiian man addressed The Captain in his native Hawaiian tongue.  With his dark skin and black hair, he was easily mistaken for an islander.

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With free car rental as part of the package, we were able to travel the entire island of Oahu over the course of our stay.  It was wonderful to get out of the big city of Honolulu and see the countryside and the seaside.  We experienced miles of empty beaches and had our pick of spots to bask in the sun and explore.  Of course, The Captain was the one wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt and a big straw hat—he didn’t need a tan anyway!  We visited small villages, and bought unique souvenirs from little shops.  We visited a pineapple farm, buying fresh fruit to take back home.  We went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, where I coined the new term “chorkel”, because I just could not get the hang of it and kept choking myself on sea water.

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We ate fresh tropical fruit for breakfast every morning and drank deeply of the rich, Kona coffee.  During the day, we sipped cool coconut milk through a straw, inserted right into the coconut.  At night, we watched native dancers and enjoyed other live entertainment.  We visited the historical remains of the U.S.S. Arizona and watched with mixed emotions as drops of oil floated up from the iron ship that served as last resting place for about 1200 navy men.  The botanical gardens were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

The Captain loved Hawaii so much that he said to me several times during our stay that if he could get a job working on a boat over there, he would just send for his clothes.  Even though the absence of mosquitoes and flies really impressed me; and even though it was a beautiful place to visit, I just had no desire to live there.  The bayou, even with its abundance of mosquitoes, had become my new home, and I wasn’t ready to leave it when my new life there had really just begun.

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Chapter 10 – The Wedding — 19 Comments

  1. You are weaving this story together in such a beautiful way and managing to capture the merging of not only two families but two totally different cultures. The photos add such a nice touch to time and place. So glad you did not loose them in all the floods your familiy has survived over three decades of living in the lower bayous.
    Keep writing and posting!

    • Lillian, these photos actually came from my mom and dad’s album, so they were never exposed to the flood waters. My album from the wedding and honeymoon got wet in the flood waters of Hurricane Juan, October 1985. Back then, I managed to dry them out and put them back in an album, and I have the negatives stored away somewhere! I wanted to put a wedding photo in this post, but they are in storage with ALL my photos and have been in storage since the week before Hurricane Rita. Now that our house is 12 feet off the ground, isn’t it about time I get my photo albums out of storage in Thibodaux and down here where we can enjoy them? 🙂 Thank you for the encouraging words, my friend.

  2. Ahhhhh…. here’s the context! What a wonderful story. You were one tough cookie, to not allow the absence of your future mother-in-law to upset you!

    And I must say – that description of the Islands has me primed to at least head over to the grocery and get a pineapple. I’ve only been to Hawaii once, but it was a beautiful place. I got a batik beach dress while I was there that I still wear around. It’s thinning out a bit after over 20 years, but it’s still a nice memento.

    I’ll say this – as much as I liked Hawaii and as many good qualities as it has, I wouldn’t want to live there. I don’t know exactly why. But Texas is fine for me, just like the Bayou is for you!

    • There’s no fruit quite as refreshing as a fresh, ripe pineapple, Linda! And those were the freshest and best I’ve ever eaten–before or since!! I’d like to go back, but only when I have absolutely no stress in my life. I love what one of the entertainers said about the difference between Mainlanders and Islanders: Mainlanders are always under pressure and in a hurry looking forward to the next season. Islanders are never in a hurry because their seasons never change–all they have to do is relax and enjoy!!!! So true, so true.

  3. Old lost buddy of mine (it seems they are all lost lately) was Navy in Hawaii. Lived on a sailboat for a bit and had another 12ft? that he toured the islands with. We used to carpool to college and discuss opening a $20 a bag grocery store over there. This before any of the Sam’s Aldi’s etc.

    Rumor is it is snowing here.

    What happened to the kewl icon jobbers?

  4. I am really loving your story. I would love to go to Hawaii and see the memorial for our service men and women. My father in laws ship was on its way to Hawaii when it was bombed and they were diverted. He always wanted to go but said he would never step foot on another boat or airplane so, he never made it there.

    And I would love that fresh pineapple, coconut and the other fruits that grow so abundantly over there.

    • Everyone has a story, don’t they? I had written so much in that chapter that I had to split it in half. So, it won’t be quite so long before the next chapter gets posted! I don’t blame your father-in-law after being in a war for not wanting to get on a boat or plane again!! Thank him for his service. The memorial is a silent reminder . . . there are just no words to say when you’re standing there. The reality of it all was almost overwhelming.

  5. Hawaii is a wonderful place but I don’t think I could live there either. I think you would like one of the other islands better than Oahu – with smaller towns an cities.

    Thanks for another chapter in your book! Again – I can’t wait to hear more.

    • Mom and Dad chose that island for some reason. I liked that we got to drive the perimeter and get out of the city. I don’t think we did one thing in the city, really, except for a couple night shows at nearby hotels–my mom was a big Don Ho fan! Remember him? And there are pictures of us schmoozing with Al Harrington who was on Hawaii Five 0 back in the day. Remember “Book ’em Danno” ? He played Danno. It was a great experience and I would really like to go back some day . . . . I was looking at the pictures of my mom and realized she was the SAME AGE then as I am now. Now, that is scary because time goes by so fast.

  6. I too, chorkled in Hanauma Bay! That is now how I will describe my experience. Getting away from the beach and exploring the Island and the local way of life was my favorite part of the trip. The coffee was great too! I could have done without the climb to the top of Diamond Head, my thighs still have not forgave me for that.

  7. What a great post! You are very talented at putting words to paper and tying everything together with a great flow…I look forward to the continuation….Will definitely use “chorkel”…very funny…Phil

  8. Well, I’ve never chokeled or been to Hawaii, but I like reading about you doing it.
    Get those photos out of storage and FIND TIME to put them on a disk!

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