Happy Anniversary, Fartbuster!

yellow rosesIt’s April 22, y’all!  Happy Anniversary to Fartbuster, wherever he may be.

We married in the backyard at my dad and stepmother’s house on a perfect spring evening.  Now, don’t be picturing some trailer park hoe-down.  Their backyard is SWANKY.  Boxwood hedges line a lush clipped lawn under soaring pecan trees.  Beside the midnight blue lagoon of the pool, bright clouds of pink and white peonies dance beneath a tumbling waterfall of yellow Lady Banks roses.  A yellow and white striped tent sheltered the buffet–cornbread and tomato bisque, pineapple sandwiches, and all sorts of Southern delights.  Sunflowers dotted the tables that were scattered around the pool.  My fairy stepmother is a genius at making things beautiful.

She planted 500 white tulips for the wedding.  But you know how it is with gardening…the Earth works on its own schedule and cares not for the plans of gardeners.  She called me about three weeks before the big day.  I could hear ice cubes tinkling in a glass of bourbon and the flick of a lighter.  She took a long inhale off her cigarette and said, “Heeeeeeey, Love.  You know those tulips for the wedding?  They’re GORGEOUS.  And they’re a teeeeeeensy bit early.  I swear, if your Daddy would let me use the pistol I’d walk out there in the backyard and shoot every one of their goddamn heads off.”

It’s fun to sit here today and think back to the wedding.  In the wake of the bad times that came five years later, some of the details of that day were overshadowed, but they deserve their due.  My mother made my dress for me and it was exactly what I wanted–a French lace bodice, eight layers of tulle for the skirt, with beaded medallions and seed pearls scattered here and there.  Wally played “Ode to Joy” for the processional and “Zip a dee doo dah” for the recessional.  My brother lugged chairs and tables and anything else that needed lugging.  The ladies of the garden club arranged flowers in silver punch bowls, crystal vases and anything else that would hold still.  Jan baked both cakes, lemon with white butter cream frosting in a basket weave and chocolate fudge with sugared grapes.  My sister made table arrangements of sunflowers and stattice and sent me off to the spa for a mani/pedi/massage.  She even wore dyed to match shoes and I still owe her an apology for that.  Mandy came down from Baltimore to read a poem.  Rhoda sent over a spray of green orchids.  Laura performed the service and would accept only a bouquet of peonies as payment.  So many people, so many hands, such light work.  It rained, then it stopped and everything was fresh.

The focal point of the backyard is a magnificent pecan tree, so that was our cathedral.  My stepsister had married in the same spot the spring before.  We called it “The Marrying Tree.”  Later, after two divorces, we renamed it “The Tree of Doom.”  When my sister got engaged a few years later, Daddy and Gay said, “Don’t even THINK about it.  We’ll cut it down ourselves before we let anyone else get married down there.”  They ran off to Vegas and are happy as larks.

I would show you pictures from the wedding, but I packed most of them up after the divorce and put them in the attic at my dad’s house.  I didn’t want to throw them away because they chronicled so much love (from the people who made the day possible), but I didn’t want them around me.   It might be time to dig them out.  I’d like to see my great Aunt Eula again.  She was always so dear to me.  When it was time for wedding day portraits, I had one taken with my grandparents (with whom she lived in a little spinster apartment) then I asked Aunt Eula to pose for a picture with me.  She lit up in her little pink dress and pearls and said, “I’ve never had a picture with the BRIDE!”  Later, when I threw the bouquet and they asked all the unmarried ladies to gather around, Pop hollered, “Get up front, Eula!”  She was about 80.  I did my best to throw it right at her.

In all the fuss and hubbub of that day, there are two moments that stand out in my mind, because they relate back to that idea of “When people show you who they are, believe them.”  There were so many words exchanged that day, and Fartbuster and I had chosen the words of our ceremony very carefully.  He said the vows….but they were just talk.  After Laura pronounced us married and invited us to share a kiss, I reached up to fling my arms around my new husband’s neck.  He held my arms down.  In the picture, he’s holding my arms down like I’m a lunatic and I might hurt someone with all that joy.  That was his first action to me as my husband–tamping down my enthusiasm.  When the pictures came in weeks later and I saw the awkward way he was pinning my arms to my sides, my heart was heavy.  But I buried that feeling and took what I got.  For a while.

I rarely think of that moment anymore.  This next one, I think of frequently.  It’s another case of a man showing me who he was and me believing him.  I can’t convey how hard everyone had worked to put together this wedding.  It was a feat.  A miracle.  A gift.  At the moment when Wally started playing the opening notes of “Ode to Joy,” my Daddy took my hand and tucked it into his arm.  We stepped out on the porch and I got my first look at the finished product…my wedding that I had dreamed about for so long.  I was overwhelmed by the moment.  It was my wish come true.  I whispered, “Oh, Daddy!  It’s perfect!”  He patted my hand and said, “So are you, Sugar, so are you.”

Some people hold you down.  Some people lift you up.  

21 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary, Fartbuster!

  1. maryhelenc

    I wish I could look back on my wedding day as a culmination of my friends and family putting together an amazing day. My wedding was a nightmare, with in laws taking over the plans, the MoH dropping out (later I learned because the groom put the moves on her) a month before and then it rained on my outdoor wedding so everything got moved inside and looked awful. When we split, I gave him all of the pictures, in case our daughters wanted to look @ them some day and then lit my wedding dress on fire (after my daughters said they didn want it). It’s not even a day I think about. Kudos to you for having such a great attitude!

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      I think I have a good attitude about it because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been where I was on that day. I spent 45 minutes lying on the couch with my son on my chest this morning and when his TV show mentioned Earth Day, that’s when I remembered that it used to be my anniversary! Can’t pick and choose what got me to this place.

      1. Debra Helwig

        A very close friend of mine messaged me on Facebook today and said, “Ashley’s post brought back a lot of memories…good and bad…. It was cathartic to read and I’m still kinda processing it all. So thank you for liking that post….and thank you to Ashley for writing it…and reminding me once again that I am not alone in what I went through.” Your voice is reaching and helping people you have never met and may never meet, in places you may never go. Treasure that fact, my friend. (It’s also damn fine writing, by the way. I feel like I was there. OH – and you have the Most. Awesome. Dad., except for maybe mine… :))

      2. Baddest Mother Ever

        I just did the little SQUEEEE! dance. Thank you for passing that along! My dad is prone to “squalling” so he’s probably in a puddle on the floor with my stepmom fanning him with a newspaper.

  2. Miss K

    A friend introduced me to your blog a few weeks ago and I have been reading your posts eagerly, finding so many parallels. My “fartbuster” has been redubbed “the asshole” by my father who refuses to speak his name any more. My wedding was also a sweet and spectacular Southern affair at his grandfather’s plantation home, with all the special little touches I had dreamed of. His words to me on our wedding night? “This morning I was worried I was making a mistake, but I am okay now,” or something to that effect (the rushing sound in my ears may have distorted them somewhat). Those words dampened my bliss that day and haunted me the entire time we were married.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      Gee, it’s those little words every woman dreams of hearing on her wedding day! This reminds me of what Fartbuster said to me after the wedding…I think I feel tomorrow’s post coming on!

  3. Kris Pereira

    My wedding was 14 yrs ago minus two days and performed in the employww garden of ARMC. Beautiful and funny, wouldn’t have had it any other way. I was not disaoointed either He was fantastic when I married him and he is fantastic today. That being said he’s busted a few farts here and there, but hell so have I. lol great column!

  4. Susan Fliegel

    My first wedding was beautiful, put together with love by my mother and grandmother. The photos show warm candlelit perfection. The actual marriage was a short-term disaster.

    My second wedding was funny, disastrous, and real. We had to have an outdoor ceremony, in order to carefully not offend my predominantly Southern Baptist family or his predominantly Jewish family. My pianist, who was (I thought) my dearest friend, backed out less than two weeks before the wedding, leaving me scrambling for music. My dress, which needed major alterations, got lost and didn’t arrive until the day before the wedding (and didn’t ever fit right). The morning of the wedding, my contacts developed a fungus. And you know how all the “experts” tell you that for every 100 people you invite, count on 50 showing up? Try 85. I instructed my friends cutting the cake to make the slices thin enough to see through. The minister conducting the carefully planned 30 minute ceremony got confused (it was his first service since leaving the priesthood) and had us kneeling when we were supposed to be standing and vice-versa, then read a whole chapter of the Bible when he was supposed to read a verse.

    But everyone had fun, there was a lot of laughter, and 33 years later we’re still laughing. A wedding is one thing–a marriage is another.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      Amen, amen, amen!!! If you’d like to read about my lovely second wedding, read the post “The ARtist at Our Wedding.” It’s got a sad ending (the “until we are parted by death” was a given), but such a happy day!

  5. Heart To Harp

    What a great story! And how wonderful that you can mine the gold from that day, and appreciate the gifts of all that went into making it a wonderful wedding (even if the groom sucked.)

  6. Gay (BIG) Garrett

    A wedding does not a marriage make. The great joy of the day was being able to surround you with the love and support you have given all of us always. About the gun…it’s probably good that I don’t know how to shoot as I would only be able to see you on visiting days.
    Keep writing and feel the love.

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  11. Kecia

    This was great, thanks for sharing. I call my Farbuster “a dud” since he was someone who seemed to work well for a while but inside was defective and subsequently just stopped working as a partner. My “believe him when he shows you..” story was after the fantasy wedding, we get to the country club for the reception and he leaves me in the limo! The limo drivers have to call out to him to wait for me and help me out of the car. The second message was he was too busy to kiss me when our guests clinked their glasses during the reception. Things starting going wrong early, but I am still close to everyone who participated and helped out that day. True friends are never duds!

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