Rose had never thought of herself as beautiful but today she smiled at the image in the mirror. She knew she would never win a beauty pageant; her skin was far from flawless, her nose was slightly too large, her hair lacked luster. And although not necessarily overweight, she could stand some firming up.
But today, she felt like a princess.
Today she would become Mrs. John Williams.
She smoothed her gown and turned this way and that, observing herself at each angle. What would John think as she walked down the aisle? Would his eyes light up? Would he smile? Faint? Throw up? Rose chuckled at the thought. Now that would be a wedding to remember!
She reached for a brush and pulled it through her hair. Her thoughts turned toward her husband-to-be. She giggled. Oh, how she loved the sound of that! Never in her life had she dreamed she would snag herself such a thoughtful, handsome, distinguished man. She smiled as she recalled her parents’ pleased reaction when she had shared the news.
“My little Rosie – a preacher’s wife! Who would have thought?” Her mother had exclaimed.
Although John hadn’t proposed in any remarkable way, the words he’d spoken to her while he was down on his knee truly captured her heart.
With enthusiasm twinkling in his eyes as he slid the ring on her finger, John said, “I have such big plans for us, Darlin’. May I share three significant visions I have for our future?”
Rose nodded, eager to hear what he had to say.
“How does eight children sound to you?”
Eight children! She was taken aback. Rose definitely wanted a large family but she had to admit that eight sort of exceeded her idea of “large.” At that moment, however, she wanted more than anything to please him and his excitement was contagious. She found herself readily agreeing.
“On to number two...one day I will be a renowned preacher and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. And you, Darlin’,” he continued playfully, “will be the most gorgeous famous preacher’s wife in the world.”
Rose beamed. She wasn’t so sure about the gorgeous part but had no doubt he would achieve his dream.
“And one more thing, Rosie.” John’s tone grew serious. “I vow at this moment that on our sixtieth wedding anniversary, when we’re eighty-five years old and our heads are completely gray and our skin has more wrinkles than a cotton shirt left in a heap all night, whether we’re both in wheelchairs or even bedridden, if we have to be spoon fed or helped to the bathroom, no matter what...I will still love you. In fact,” he proclaimed, “I’ll marry you all over again.”
A soft tap sounded on the door. Rose turned, her tears glistening in the light. Catherine stood, smiling at her, tears forming in her eyes as well. “Are you ready, Mama?”
Rose swiped at her weathered cheeks. “I’ve been ready for the past fifty-nine years, Sweetheart,” she said. She glanced once more at her reflection and reached for her walker. Slowly, persistently, she inched her way down the hall and out the door. Once outside, her gaze rested on the groom, eighty-five year old John Williams, world-renowned preacher. She barely noticed his gray hair or his wrinkled skin or the wheelchair in which he sat. He was still as handsome as he had been the first time she’d walked down the aisle.
As Rose made her way down the white runner lain over the freshly mowed lawn of her own backyard and approached her husband of sixty years, she couldn’t help but notice the twinkle in his eye, still as bright as ever.
“My eyesight may be going, Rosie, but you’re still a vision,” he said.
She sank into the empty wheelchair waiting for her and grasped the gnarled hand of the only lover she’d ever known. Rose took a moment and looked at each of their eight children, seventeen grandchildren and four great-grandbabies. She marveled at how, although they’d gone through their share of hard times and heartaches, John’s vision for them had never wavered. They’d ended up exactly where he knew they would.
And for the second time in sixty well-worn, glorious years, Rose became Mrs. John Williams.
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