Thomas devoured his bean burrito with enthusiasm pausing now and then to glance at his intended bride. He was glad Aunt Naomi had introduced him to this place and it had become the favourite haunt of them both now. The more he thought about Kate the more obsessed he was about making her a lifetime commitment. His feelings for her were strong.
Kate watched him out of the corner of her eye with satisfaction and apprehension. It was an issue that had to be addressed but she hesitated, wondering if this would destroy her dreams. Life had been tough lately and she realized just how much he’d added value to her life after she’d re-discovered him. She needed him. Finally, she gave a sigh and decided to bring the issue into focus. Thomas looked up in surprise as he heard her sigh.
“Tommy my Mom has been pestering me about the wedding arrangements. Because of all the problems I’ve had at work I haven’t had a chance to start thinking about it. We were suggesting early next year would be a good time considering most businesses will be in holiday mode around the world after Christmas. We need to set a final date so I can work on bridal preparations but there is an issue we both need to talk over. My Mom is keen for Father Murphy to perform the wedding. How do you feel about that?”
Thomas chewed on his burrito as he stared at the ceiling thinking. The more he thought the more alarmed he became. He had no issue with Catholics, as a matter of fact some of his close buddies were Catholic and they shared many things in common in business and sports. For the first time though he realized what a great gulf there was between their cherished beliefs. He compared in his mind the cathedrals with their mystical silence and ritual with the relatively low roofed suburban churches he’d grown up in. The joy in association, the music, the camps. He recalled Aunt Naomi waving them off as Campbells went to church each week and how Naomi and Stella had talked about displays at Easter and Christmas at the Catholic Church. They were inseparable friends, and yet each went their different ways in religious practice accepted by each other nevertheless. But how to combine those diverse religious practices in a marriage? What about the issue of children? This was a serious issue. He looked at Kate helplessly as he processed all these thoughts.
Kate’s two hemispheres were working at top speed as she watched his reaction. She dare not talk about conversion after watching his reaction. She felt wretched, what should she do now? She quickly decided to lighten the mood and laughed, but it was a laugh stripped of joy.
“Tommy your food is getting cold. Eat up! We’ve got lots of time to settle questions like this and I want to have fun this evening to take my mind off all the business and legal issues I’m facing now.”
Kate reached across the table and took his hand reassuringly. But for the rest of the night there was a formalism between them that had not been present before. She trembled a little inside at the change of mood. She needed him so badly and struggled with whether she’d be prepared to sacrifice her identity. Her family went all the way back to the Conquistadors those proud Spaniards who’d invaded the Americas centuries ago. They were Latino and they were Catholic, that was in her DNA though she cared little about the attendance and rituals it was who she was. Each completed the evening with faces that masked internal struggles they were going through. Each were relieved when the evening ended, they’d lingered longer than usual in each other’s company as if this would be their last night together. The warmth of that good night kiss was the same though tinged with an element of sadness.
After Thomas had returned Kate to her apartment she waited for a few minutes until she could be assured Tom had left. Then went outside and found a safe lighted place on the street where she could observe those still coming and going and took out her cell phone. She couldn’t go to the apartment and face her Mom who she knew would be waiting for her to return and watching TV. Tears welled up in her eyes making it difficult for her to see numbers on the cell phone. She dialled Stella Campbell and when she heard that familiar voice on the other end of the line burst into sobs. In the next five minutes Kate poured out her emotions on the phone to a sleepy startled Stella who attempted to comfort her soon to be daughter in law.
Stella waited for Kate’s emotion and the torrent of words to come to an end and then spoke calmly.
“Kate you have always been our daughter and I’m so glad you had enough confidence in me to phone as you work your way through this seemingly difficult question. I guess none of us had taken the religious difference seriously in the excitement of seeing you and Tom together. Obviously, we have a religious belief that is different to yours, but you and Tom need to work this out between yourselves and we and your Mom must accept that and not interfere. Regardless of what you two choose to do you will always be our daughter and we will love you, so you must decide the matter yourselves. You can count on our support in whatever you decide to do as a couple.”
Kate thanked Stella and shut her cell phone. She was composed now, this had been a bad month and she needed the calmness of her future mother in law to relax her. It was good to know Stella would be in her corner no matter which way decisions were made. Her love for Stella had been reinforced in that phone call. She now headed inside to face her Mom’s questionings. Up the elevator, through the door and right up to her Mom she went.
“Mom, I want you to listen carefully and not interrupt. I’m going to marry Tommy and a Celebrant will perform the marriage, not Father Murphy. I know this will disappoint you, but you must accept that. I phoned Stella this evening to get her reaction and she said it would be a decision I and Tommy would have to make and whatever we chose to do she would accept and support. I want you to do the same. Will you?”
Naomi shook with emotion. “But you’re Catholic Kate how could you not want a Priest to officiate at your wedding? Your marriage will not be recognized by the church and that will bring shame on us all.”
“Mom I’ll remain a Catholic, have no fears of that and I’m not concerned if the marriage is recognized by the church or not. I know it will be legal and right. But I cannot force Tommy to do something he’d never be happy about. I want ours to be a marriage of love and mutual respect.”
“What about the children?”
“Mom that’s something Tommy and I have to sort out and it could be a sticking point for us going ahead with a marriage. I don’t go to church, you rarely go so we’re hardly qualified to insist on something we’re not prepared to do ourselves. Perhaps they could be exposed to both and leave it to them to make their own decisions when they mature. I don’t know. Tommy and I will have to discuss this. I want you to be happy and support us in whatever decision is made. Will you?”
Naomi nodded unhappily. She became a regular attendee at the local Catholic Church after their conversation much to the delight of Father Murphy. She’d often invite Kate to join her, but Kate only smiled. She understood this as another attempt by her Mom to influence the decisions that had to be made between Kate and Tommy. Slowly Naomi’s resolve to attend tapered off and things returned to normal. Looking around she could see secularism was making inroads in the traditions of the past and she shrugged it off. She still wanted the wedding to go ahead and looked forward to a new campaign to produce children for her to spoil and potentially sneak off to the Catholic Church whenever the opportunity arose.
The day after Kate’s phone call to Stella she texted Tommy to ask if he had time to meet her that evening but learned he had some business meetings to attend to. He mentioned in his text return that his Mom had phoned the evening before and he wanted to talk with Kate about that conversation. Could they meet the next evening? Kate texted back that it would be OK. But as she texted she wondered if Tommy had bad news for her and didn’t want to meet that evening to deliver it. She was depressed the whole day and anxious to get it over with whatever that should be.
So, two evenings later she was relieved when meeting him to see that same love light in his eyes and to feel that special touch that indicated he loved her. Was it enough though? When they were settled at the table Tommy began to speak, but Kate put her finger on his lips.
She spoke. “Tommy my soul has been knit with yours since we were children so I’m not going to let you go easily. How about we get married by a celebrant and I know the children we’ll obviously have are part of the questions you’ll want resolved. I’ll always be Catholic, it’s in my ancestry and blood though I don’t seem to practice my belief very well. You should be equally committed to whatever you believe. Our children should be exposed to religion in some way as I think that’s very important. Perhaps you could take them to your church when you go and I’ll take them to mine when I go. Education can be cared for through regular schools and when they’re mature they’ll have to make their own decisions. We should give them the same respect our parents give to our decisions. How do you feel about that?”
Tommy exhaled in relief. He was not prepared to compromise his beliefs just as he expected Kate should have the freedom to believe what she wanted to. It was not a matter of who’s God was true but how to worship Him and each would continue to feel strongly about that. He’d dreaded this evening and was so glad Kate had silenced him as he may not have expressed his feelings without hurting her and he didn’t ever want to do that.
“Kate how important is it for you to have a big wedding with all those trappings and people from everywhere making clever speeches at a wedding reception. I want to be married to you now, I don’t want to wait a year for all that stuff.”
Kate got up and came around the table to him. “Tommy stand up.”
He got to his feet and she wrapped herself around him and held on tight. They swayed as the waiter cleared his throat and asked, “Can I get anything for you?”
They unwound, and each gave their order while the waiter looked at them with a smile. “It is a cold night isn’t it? One needs to be well wrapped up for it!” He departed chuckling at his own joke.
Kate laughed, the weight had been lifted off her with Tommy’s question.
“OK Tommy, it is important for a girl to have a big wedding with all those trappings and people from everywhere making clever speeches at the wedding reception so I’m going to have to insist on that. Why don’t we compromise on the after Christmas suggestion? When would you like to have the wedding and be practical remembering when your busy time at work is and mine.”
“How about tomorrow? Said Tommy hopefully.
Kate went into a fit of laughter. “I said practical Tommy. Let’s make it Thanksgiving then. That will be quite a stretch for us to get ready by then but let’s go for it. I might get a bit snippy under pressure but that will be a good introduction to married life.”
At the wedding Kate and Naomi were resplendent in the dresses Kate designed and made and the design was immediately snapped up by a fashion house representative Kate had invited to the wedding. Relatives, friends and business associates were there to wish them well and all those clever speeches Tom hated were made. When Tom got up to make his speech he related the story of their childhood wedding, the old wire wedding ring hastily constructed and how it had resurfaced under strange circumstances to have that vow renewed many years later. He told of the long friendship the Renaldo’s and Campbells had from as far back as he could remember and paid tribute to Ricky Renaldo now deceased. He paused in respect, then acknowledged Naomi who smiled proudly.
The honeymoon, a wedding present from the Campbells was in Rome where Thomas had his first introduction to the fashion houses Kate dealt with regularly and then he was introduced to the history of this ancient city.
They paused at the fountain where coins had been thrown in for centuries and watched as tourists made their wishes. Tom reached into his pocket and threw in three coins.
“What did you wish for?” Kate asked smiling.
“That our lives will always be this happy and our children will look as beautiful as you!” Tom grinned.
“Your wish is granted,” the voice was loud and definite.
Both spun around to see who’d spoken but they were surrounded by tourists and no one seemed to be looking their way.
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