Mr. Pettit and I might as well have been married in the back of a covered wagon, with Pa Ingalls officiating.
When we tied the knot in our tiny South Carolina town almost, uh, quite a few years ago, we had a short and sweet ceremony in the beautiful little church I grew up in, followed by a reception in the church social hall. It was a mixed faith marriage, by Southern standards: Mr. Pettit was a Baptist, I a Methodist.
Tommy H., a member of Mr. Pettit’s church, had a nice voice, so he was often called on to perform at local weddings. He sang two songs: “The Wedding Song (There Is Love)” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.” I chose the first song and Mr. Pettit the latter.
I had assumed we’d include “We’ve Only Just Begun,” a hit by The Carpenters, but Mr. Pettit stood his ground on “Love.” He’s always had more sophisticated musical tastes than I: When he was spinning records by Janis Ian and Seals and Crofts I was buying the latest album by the Bay City Rollers or K.C. and the Sunshine Band.
We served sandwiches with a cream cheese and olive spread I loved, along with butter mints, punch and wedding cake, of course. I can’t recall there being any other food, but that might be due to the fact I didn’t eat anything, except for a bite of cake. There was no music, unless a participant was humming under his or her breath, so there was no “first dance.” Mr. Pettit has never been too keen on dancing, so it was just as well.
We didn’t have much money, so we put off our honeymoon until the following spring. We drove Mr. Pettit’s Mazda GLC down to Orlando to visit the Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney had talked about building this new thing, Epcot, that promised to be really fancy, but then he up and died so nothing came of it.
Back to 2019.
If you’ve followed this blog since its inception you know that I am a Hallmark girl. (See my column “A Hallmark Moment” from 2014.) I eat up those Christmas movies like they’re waffle fries and I indulge in their mysteries throughout the year. So when I saw that Sirius/XM had a Hallmark station for the month of June, I had to check it out.
The station’s launch coincided with the Hallmark Channel’s “June Weddings” programming, so all the music was supposedly tailor-made for the Big Day. I listened to Candace Cameron Bure as well as other Hallmark stars talk about their wedding memories. And at least four times an hour I heard about how important it is to find just the right song for the pivotal, all-important, go-straight-to-an-annulment-if-you-don’t-get-this-right first dance.
My favorite candidate from among today’s hits is “Perfect,” by Ed Sheeran. I’ve loved that song from the first time I heard it. It strikes every romantic chord in my Hallmark card heart.
But if Mr. Pettit and I ever renew our vows I have a truly perfect song in mind: “Something That We Do” by Clint Black.
I first referenced this song in the column “Life, Love and Lyrics” published in 2014. Its power for me hasn’t diminished.
When Mr. Pettit and I married, I had just turned 20 and thought I knew everything. The years since have taught me many lessons, including the fact that love isn’t a noun. It’s a verb.
Mr. Black and his co-writer, Skip Ewing, say it better than I ever could. I’d treasure the song for the first verse alone:
I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
I still believe the words we said
Forever will ring true
Love is certain, love is kind
Love is yours and love is mine
But it isn't somethin' that we find
It's somethin' that we do.
We don’t live in a Hallmark or Disney world. Things happen.
Good things: The birth of a child. The purchase of a home. The achievement of a dream.
Bad things: The loss of parents. Illness and injury of a child. Financial stress.
And the roller coaster keeps on rolling.
In the good times a soft, tingly feeling is sufficient.
But in the bad times—when the military deployment begins or the house won’t sell or the diagnosis is bad—real love acts.
And it is a many-splendored thing.