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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some BIG News!

I'm writing from the McDonalds in Ottawa, Kansas. It's 104 degrees with a heat index of 114. Stepping outside from AC to this kind of heat is a shock to the system (and the sweat glands). It reminds me of that summer in Kansas back in June of 1980 when the ACTUAL temp was 110 or more for over 20 days in a row. Those days in Kansas were compared to the Dust Bowl itself.

How would I remember this meteorological data? Because our wedding day was a brief oasis of joy in that record-setting heat wave.

On June 28, in a small air-conditioned church in Melvern (the same little white chapel where Julie’s parents got married in 1954), we tied the knot, stepped out into 114 degree air, and headed to our reception at the church campground in Waverly. Here's the thing... the camp building had NO AIR! We had decorated it the night before when temps had cooled down to the 90’s. Everything looked perfect when we left.

I wish you could have seen us laugh as we stepped through the door and saw the 12-inch taper candles all lying on the tables. They were still in their glass-star candleholders, and the holders were in place, but the candles themselves had gone limp in the heat of the day. When the hostess tried to stand them up to light them, they just drooped back down as if to say, "Are you kidding! You expect us to burn in this heat?" I only wish we had taken a picture of them before taking them from the tables.

Every groom will tell you that his bride looked "hot" on their wedding day, but mine really was. (Since Julie reads here, I better add that she was no hotter [in the over-heated sense] than the other 200 people in the room, but she was and is "hot" in the complimentary sense.) Two enormous fans (the kind built into the wall of livestock sheds) created an indoor breeze and helped us enjoy a wonderful afternoon with family and friends. It also helped that Tim, Bruce and Bob (from the Kings Brass) were there to liven things up like a Tijuana trio at fiesta (without them, I'm pretty sure a siesta may have been declared. As it was, we wrapped up as soon as possible and headed for Branson, MO).

Okay, Tom… so it’s a scorching day in Kansas, and it was even hotter back in 1980—you call that SOME BIG NEWS? No, that's not the news, but the this news and today's temperature reminded me of my own wedding day 26 years ago. Thanks for your patience.

Here’s the really BIG NEWS:

Keith proposed to my daughter Emily Sunday night. I’ve been waiting to write about it here, but we were getting ready for this trip to visit Julie’s family, and this was my first chance. I don’t usually write about current family matters here at Patterns, but Emily said I could tell you all about it (after all the whole Northern Hemisphere and parts of Asia [Hi, Ben] have already heard the news).

I took Keith out to lunch (secretly, at his request) on Wednesday, July 12th, and after a nice conversation (that I won’t share here), he asked my permission to marry her. That may strike some as a bit old fashion, but so was the fact that he asked permission to date her four years ago. I think Keith would tell you she was worth it both times.

One thing I will share was that he told me that on their first date he told Emily "I’m in this for the long haul." He obviously meant it. [Kim later told him that line sounded like John Deere talk to an Iowa girl—and I said, "That’s okay, Keith, better to speak in John Deere than to listen in "Dear John."]

So we had a nice talk on Wednesday, but the hardest part was that Julie and I had to keep his plans a secret until he proposed, which turned out to be four days later. Keith was thoughtful enough to let both sets of parents in on the fun Sunday night. Here’ s how it went:

Keith and Em went to Lake Harbor Park just north of Maranatha, where Mona Lake connects to Lake Michigan. It’s one of their favorite places to picnic and hike. Just before they crossed over the dune to the lake, Keith called his dad’s cell phone at 7:00PM sharp and let it ring once. That was our cue to go to a predetermined picnic table tucked off by itself in the trees at the end of the trail.

Amy (Keith’s mom) had everything we needed to decorate the table in a picnic basket they had gotten as a wedding present: white linen, formal stemware glasses, sparkling grape juice, chocolate covered strawberries, etc. and Keith had three red roses in a vase. It was perfect. We took some pictures and then we took off. Several minutes later they finished their walk, which just happened to be at the picnic table.

"Oh, look, Keith," Emily said, pointing into the trees at the table, "I’ll bet someone is going to propose there. See… now that’s a romantic idea." She had no clue; she was only doing the same "hint-hint" routine that Keith has been enduring for several months. Her actual hope was that something would happen before her birthday in October. What Em didn’t know was that Keith had gone beyond "hint" mode and had entered into the "action" phase. When he walked toward the setting, she told him to get away before the couple came back. Then he took her hand and guided her over to the table.

Keith laughed when he later told us, "For all her hinting, she sure wasn't ready for the real thing. She just kept saying, ‘Nuh-uh…nuh-uh,’ literally pulling back until I sat her down at the table." He took a small ornately bound book from his cargo shorts pocket. In it he had written "their story," and he read it one page at a time from when they first met right up to that very moment. (That's six years—with over four of them as a couple...it's a long story.)

She sat watery-eyed across from him as the reality settled in. On the last page, he crossed to her side of the table, got down on one knee, and said the last lines of the book from memory. That was the part where he asked to marry her. She said "yes," and he pulled out a small box from his other pocket. (He’d been carrying the book and the box all day—even as Emily took him to a store after dinner to "walk him past" a half-caret diamond on sale just an hour before. He simply said,"I don't have the money to get that right now.") From the box he took a one-caret princess-cut diamond solitaire that totally blew her away—since it was far more that she ever dared "hint" for.

(Tempted as we were to spy on these storybook moments, we didn’t see any of this, of course. They told us about it later. When I get a chance I'll try to post some pictures of the event taken by a tattooed, shirtless, total stranger who was barbecuing chicken across the way. When he used up the film, he congratulated them and gave Keith the disposable camera his father had left with him.)

Both families were waiting at the iced cream shop at Maranatha. It’s a big "lodge-type" room, and we occupied the couches by the fireplace. At about 8:30PM, two happy 21-year-olds came into the place all smiles. We took lots more pictures, and then they sat on the big hearth and told the story from their different perspectives.

Emily was tearful a couple times but mostly elated! Keith was happy, too—especially that it was a total surprise. We sat and visited for a couple hours. [Thanks, Dave and Amy, it was great.] This year will have many similar gatherings with the two families and one really big gathering (to be announced) that we trust many of you will witness for yourselves.


Anonymous Jim Trunnell said...

Hello Tom, Make sure and tell them congratulations for us. It’s been a while since I have read your blog, but what a nice posting to return too. With Megan and Emily the same age, it is just hard to believe that they are old enough for this “stuff”. Tell Julie hi for me.

Jim Trunnell

25/7/06 2:07 PM  
Blogger Ang said...

Congratulations, Father of the Bride!
I was just telling a friend yesterday, the story of how Ryan proposed to me ...and remembering all the excitment and fun of sharing it with our families.

What a beautiful story!

25/7/06 4:11 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Hey, Jim, Great to hear from you. I know what you mean! "Tempus Fugit" as the Mayor's wife says in The Music Man. Nice to know you read here. Please tell your folks Hi from us.

You got that right. Julie has called me "Father of the Bride" more than once. Everytime a make a practical suggestion about the wedding or reception, she says, "Why don't you just put a chef's hat on and we'll have a cook-out in the back yard." But really I'm not being nearly as funny as Steve Martin--something tells me I'll be feeling more like him as time goes by. Thanks for reading.

26/7/06 7:44 PM  

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