Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist
At last, my love has come along. My lonely days are over, and life is like a song ... For you are mine at last.
— “At Last,” Etta James
I looked my friend in the eyes and said:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say today can and probably will be used against you ... sooner or later.”
That got a laugh from him and his best man. Both were handsome, dressed as they were for the occasion. Somebody said they clean up pretty well.
She’s a good-looking woman to begin with, and on this day she was absolutely gorgeous (the same word everybody was using).
I told her it was a good thing he met her before I did.
But that happened a long time ago, as they say, in a galaxy far, far away.
For me to tell you why the groom means so much to me would take more time than we have. Besides, some of it is personal, and some of it involves things nobody else knows.
Suffice it to say this: Because of him, I know that my life, and what I have done with it, have meant something. The difference this has made can’t be explained to someone who hasn’t experienced it, and I’m not the same man I was before.
It didn’t take me but a few seconds to fall in love with her. She and I go off to talk once in a while, and I’ve told him she’s safer with me than with anybody else.
“I know that,” he said. So does she.
Last June, I wrote a column, “They’re getting just what they deserve,” about two others who are at the top of my list of beloved people. I called them “Harry” and “Sally.”
Harry and Sally had dated for a while, then broke up and dated other folks, but came to the same conclusion at the same time: None of them was you. So they got married, and I was there to see that happen.
I’ll refer to the new bride and groom as “Sam” and “Georgia” (as in “gorgeous”).
Sally and Georgia have become fast friends, and I frequently overhear their conversations, which often include their female buddies.
I asked Sam if he thought we could spend half an hour talking about shoes, boots, sandals, drapes, rugs, what color something should be, where to buy clothes, what type of cake to get and shopping in general.
“Hell, no,” he said.
With us, it would take the form of “Nice bike/gun/car, etc. Where’d you get it? What’d you pay for it?” followed by a simple answer.
He was looking totally ignored while a round-table chat about the upcoming nuptials was going on beside him, and saw me grinning.
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” he asked.
“Uh-huh,” I replied.
“Just wait,” he said. “Your day’s coming.”
I have told him that if I ever do fall from grace again, there will be a line of guys several blocks long, waiting for their turn to return some of what I have given them in regards to their womenfolk ... but I will make sure that he goes to the head of the line.
He has said I won’t be disappointed by what I hear from him.
In fact, one of our buddies has told me, “OK, we’ve got Harry and Sam married off. Now it’s your turn.” That might take some doing.
Not everyone is able to relish somebody else’s happiness, but I have learned to do that.
So it has been fun to watch and hear about this from both Sam and Georgia, and even more fun to observe the anticipation and eagerness — particularly on her part.
She’s been worked-up as all get-out. I’ve told her, “He’s probably more nervous than you are, only he doesn’t show it.” She said I probably was right.
Once upon a time, Sam and Georgia were in love, but he went off to Vietnam. They kept in touch with each other and, after the war was over, took up where they left off.
But he went away to school and life intervened. He married someone else. So did she.
However, life intervened again not long ago — as it occasionally does — and they wound up unattached and in the same place at the same time. That was that.
“I wanted to marry him when I was 15,” Georgia said. “I wonder what it would have been like if we’d been together all these years, and what we missed,” she said.
I told her it wasn’t meant to happen then. Things like this happen when they’re meant to happen, and not before. This was meant to happen NOW. You’re not the same people you were then. It might be that you’d have grown tired of each other and drifted apart ... but now, that’s not going to happen.
I told her that if you spend too much time wondering “What if?” and “What might have been?” all you do is drive yourself crazy. You have to concentrate on “What is” and “What can be?”
I told Sam there’s one who still haunts me a little, now and then, even after 45 years. I wonder what’s happened to her, and each night in my prayers I ask that she’s happy and having a good life.
Some folks have told me I should have married her, and maybe they’re right. But I would not have had the life I’ve had and, as I said before, it’s been worth living.
Hers was a voice I can still hear, and it infuriated her when I began to talk like she did ... in a southern West Virginia accent that gave even the shortest of words an extra syllable.
What would I do, if one day while sitting at my desk at the newspaper, I heard that voice behind me, saying, “Jee-um?”
I don’t know. Such things are not up to me.
Back in the day, Sam and Georgia were lovers ... something that, as I know from experience, is subject to change.
Now, they have become each other’s best friend. I’ve seen this, too, and it doesn’t go away. Love is one thing. Love is another.
While going through the reception line, I hugged them one at a time and said, “A day like this makes up for a lot of bad ones.”
We held each other and rocked from side to side, laughing like little kids at Disney World.
Later, after the cake and champagne, she told me, “It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”
“Honey,” I said, “I hope it never does.”