From time to time I wonder which of the Norman children is most like their father. Spencer has Steve’s sense of adventure. All share his love of God. Joel’s face might look most like his. Several like to camp. Catherine has his eyes, his intellect, and strong will. I’ve always thought David was most like Steve the athlete: always hustling, playing his heart out, making the most of his ability, unafraid to mix it up under the basket. At the rehearsal dinner Spencer told the story of David getting so emotionally heated that he removed himself from a pickup basketball game – something Steve had also done a time or two.
Saturday’s wedding of David to Beth Wilkening at the Perimeter Church chapel was a wonderfully sweet affair, which capped off an already emotional week for me. Matthew, Will, and I happened to sit with Cliff and Cindy Switzer. The always fun Cindy was most sensitive to the loss of W and M’s grandfather, and throughout the evening went out of her way to look out for the boys. In front of us sat the always tall Arps family, whom I enjoyed seeing. I quickly realized there were friends in attendance from most all the stops in my life: high school (Cindy Pitts), college (Fred O, Dale McLain), SPdL (Lyn and Juliann Acuff, Ashley Corbett and his daughter Rachel), Living Science (Joel Nels, the Baileys, Kellers, Masons, and Delenicks), North Point (the Hurts), Flight basketball (the Hoffers, Beckemeyers, Robinsons, Lanes, and Smiths), baseball (Josiah and Isaac George, and David Rajecki), and East Cobb (the Arasmiths, David and Will Bartlett, and Annie Blass).
When Spencer escorted Becky down the aisle they proceeded up to a photograph of Steve at the front to pay tribute. Amanda Arasmith sang beautiful solos and led the wedding-goers in singing hymns “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder”, “In Christ Alone”, and the Doxology. Joel played guitar, then joined the groomsmen in the front. In addition to the brothers and Catherine, the wedding party included Rob Kelly, Nicki George, Annie Blass, Catherine Beckemeyer, and best men Josiah, DJ, and Joel Nels. The twelve groomsmen and bridesmaids may have been the most I’d ever seen – I thought about joking that David & Beth may have children before the recessional was finished (but wisely did not).
As expected, Fred O did his usual masterful job officiating, mixing humor with personal memories and God’s Word. After David had placed the ring on Beth’s finger, Fred O proclaimed that he had once before held the ring that Beth would be placing on David’s finger: it had been the ring that as best man in Steve’s wedding years ago that Fred O had held before Steve wore it during his marriage. Like many of us watching, Beth then wept as she placed the ring on David’s finger. Fred O only stumbled once, forgetting to seat the congregation before the exchanging of the vows – but the result was an added air of seriousness and dignity to the sacred occasion.
While pictures were being taken after the service I was able to speak to several old friends. Debbie Keller just returned from New York and soon will be traveling to Africa. I finally gave David Bartlett the size 16 Pumas I’d found for him. Perhaps flustered by his gaffe during the service, Fred was uncharacteristically short. He did hit me with a good zinger: “What’s wrong with the Braves? Isn’t that YOUR department?” Took me five minutes to recover with an uncreative “Aren’t the Jackets YOUR department?” Matthew and I walked out with the Hurts, and chatted with young Rachel Corbett, now married with three kids, including the flower girl. They live in Greenville.
I followed the Baileys on our 16 mile journey east to the reception in downtown Lawrenceville. Since we had taken our time, we were lucky to find a table in the back corner - near the refreshing tea and lemonade. Father of the bride Hal Wilkening welcomed everyone with a semi-apology for the distant though wonderful reception hall. The wedding party was introduced, and most of the couples danced a jig as they entered. The tables were released one at a time to the delicious BBQ buffet.
As we waited our turn, Hurt, Ashley, Lyn Acuff, and I spoke of old times. Lyn reminded us of the road trip he and Steve took years ago. Steve “stole” Lyn’s car in an effort to impress Lyn’s girlfriend, and the police got involved. Fred O had told the story at Steve’s funeral. Just a few minutes later toasts were given by best man Josiah and Beth’s maid of honor sister. Josiah told of his and David’s own disastrous road trip to California. He spoke of being friends with David for over eleven years, through high school and college. Now they were both getting married within a few months of each other. Josiah spoke of the longtime friendship of Steve and Fred O, and how he hoped to have something similar to that as well. A very heartfelt and moving speech.
David Arasmith was sitting in front of me during the speeches. At one point he quickly checked messages on his phone. I decided to have some fun. I checked my phone, and had David’s cell number saved as a contact. I texted him “Someone’s watching you.” Over his shoulder I saw my message pop up on his phone. He looked around – and quickly slid his phone back into his pocket. I cracked up, slapped him on the back, and told him it was me. He was still shaken, but later told his wife how I’d gotten him.
Had a nice chat with several old friends. The Baileys are well. Sandy is now teaching at the JFBC Academy. Daughter Christy had a great summer dancing at Marietta’s Strand Theater, and is as peppy as ever (though she quit following me on Twitter). Josiah officially introduced me to his bride. He thought I was a journalist! DJ did not introduce me to his girlfriend. Jim Mason ate a healthy plate of ‘que and was ready to down Mary Hurts’ as well. I talked so much that I was the very last person to go through the buffet.
Father of the bride Hal set a high standard with his first dance with Beth. I’d better start taking lessons. David and Becky hadn’t practiced as much, but sweetly moved about the dance floor to Simon & Garfunkel’s great tune “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Annie Blass was a dancing machine – as were former Living Science teacher Andy Whorton and his wife. The Whorton’s traveled over from Birmingham. Andy and I complimented each other’s Facebook posts. During the dancing Sandy stayed busy talking to one former student after another. She was continuously introduced as “the best teacher I ever had.”
After Cindy Switzer danced with Matthew, spunky redhead Holly Smith grabbed Matthew for several dances – including a couple of slow dances. When I asked if he was ready to go, he wasn’t. Like me, Will stayed busy talking. Joel and Charles performed songs. I had a nice chat with Becky. Matthew and I finally left at 11:11 pm. A long, but wonderful evening.