It’s a morning wedding. A simple one. There is Spanish moss in the trees. The birds are out. This is John’s first marriage. He's forty-five years young. It’s the biggest day of his entire life.
And I forgot a wedding gift.
This is his cousin’s hunting land, a place John thought would be a perfect spot for a shindig. He was right.
John’s new wife has two kids. Boys. They are pure energy, but well-behaved.
John has no family at the ceremony. No mother, father, uncles, aunts, cousins. There are only two older men standing for him. They are wiry and weathered.
They used to work on oil rigs with John. He calls them the only family he’s ever had. They treat him like a sort of son.
The bride’s family is in attendance. They are salt-of-the-earth folks. Khakis and button-downs, cotton dresses. Simple.
“I look forward to being a dad to her boys,” says John. “I grew up without one, I know how bad kids need a
John knows a lot more than that. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. It was bad. He went through surgery, chemo, nausea, hair loss, weight loss. The works. He’s been in remission ever since, but it’s changed him.
“Scared the you-know-what outta me,” says John. “Now I wake up each day and think, ‘Man, is it gonna come back?’ It plays with you mind.”
She is the picture of loveliness. She was married once before. Her husband left her. She and her boys moved in with her mother.
John was working on a concrete crew, laying a driveway for her mother’s rental house. Her kids befriended John right away.
“He was all they could talk about for days,” she says. “I thought, geez,…