“We just got married,” said the young couple in the supermarket checkout lane.
The newlyweds were ahead of me in Checkout Lane Six, dressed in beach attire. Their faces could have doubled as stadium lights for a Fenway Park night game.
Just married. These words set off a chain reaction of responses among those of us in line. The news immediately traveled, single file, moving from person to person like that old game telephone.
Everyone heartily congratulated them. And I do mean heartily.
“Congratulations,” said the bearded guy, holding a toddler in his arms.
“Congratulations,” said the woman who was dressed in an EMT uniform.
“Congratulations,” said five or six others.
“Mazel tov,” said the supermarket bagger—who looked maybe 95 years old.
“We’ve been dating for a year,” said the newlywed woman. “But on Wednesday we just thought, ‘You know what? Let’s do it.’ We went to the courthouse and…”
She showed the ring.
“Then we drove here to Florida this morning, spur of the moment. We don’t even know where we’re staying tonight. But we’re married.”
Her husband slipped an arm around her. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said.
The EMT lady was first to jump in the conversation: “I remember when I got married. My husband and I took a honeymoon cruise to Cozumél. Best week of my life—from what I can remember of it.”
The guy with the toddler said, “We went to San Francisco. Each morning I kept waking up and saying, ‘Holy cow, I’m married. We’re really married.’ You say that a lot in the beginning.”
Everyone agreed with his last statement. Again, heartily.
The elderly bagger chimed in. His voice had an old-world lilt to it.
“When I was growing up in New York, I met a girl when I was 12, she was 14, she lived in my neighborhood. She was the most beautiful girl I ever saw. I told her, ‘I’m gonna marry you someday.’ And eight years later I did.”
Everyone gave each other an aww-that’s-so-sweet look.
The EMT lady said, “I met my husband when I was in the military. We were nothing alike, he was sensitive, into music. And I was—well—kinda tomboyish. I knew it was meant to be when he first made me laugh.”
The man with the toddler added to the repartee once more.
“I met my wife when I worked at a skating rink. I was 19. I had a summer job, she came in with her friends one night. We didn’t skate together, but I drove her home and she refused to kiss me because she said she didn’t know where my mouth had been.”
Then someone asked the newlyweds how they met. The couple stared at each other and beamed.
“He lives next door to me,” the woman said.
Everyone laughed. Although, looking back, I don’t really know why. It wasn’t funny.
The old bagger said, “I asked my wife to marry me when she was working at a library. I walked in at lunchtime, she saw me and said, ‘What’re you doing here? I didn’t think you knew how to read.’ I was so nervous I was shaking in my shoes.
“I got down on my knee and I said, ‘You light up my life, Sandra.’ Everyone in the library saw me kneeling and they were telling her, ‘Say yes!’”
He looked into the distance for a moment and smiles at nobody in particular. “My wife was great.”
The EMT lady said, “There was no popping the question for us. Actually, I was the one who asked my husband to marry me. We were at a bar, I told him that it just made sense. Him and me.
“He laughed and said, okay, sure, let’s get hitched. Then he was like, ‘Hey, I’ll even bear your children if you want me to.’ We have two kids, I do wish he woulda been the one to go into labor. ‘Cause that part sucked.”
While these strangers were talking I became lost in thought, thinking about when I first met the feisty woman who shares my name.
I remember the blouse she wore the night I asked her to marry me. Jawbreaker red. After she said yes I had to hurry off to Wednesday night church because I was filling in for our pianist who had the flu.
During that service I messed up every hymn in the book until the minister finally whispered, “What the heck is wrong with you tonight?”
So I told him I was getting married. He turned and announced this to the congregation. They gave us a standing ovation.
That’s a night I don’t want to forget.
After the newlyweds finished checking out, someone asked if they planned on having kids. The young couple was quick to shake their heads in unison and laugh.
“Whoa, no,” they said. “No kids. Definitely not. Kids are definitely not in our life plan.”
The elderly bagger placed bags into their hands. Then the white-haired, wizened employee spoke. “There’s a Yiddish saying my wife used to always say about life. She’d say: ‘Man plans, God laughs.’”
Everyone in line heartily agreed with that one, too.
Dean - August 14, 2021 9:59 am
Great column as always. Made me think about how I started dating my husband back in 1959 and married two years later was married for 58 years before he passed awY in 2020. Hopefully you and Jamie can make it that long.
Susan - August 14, 2021 10:32 am
I’m praying for you and your family.
Thank you for bringing joy to my day!
saltydoggie - August 14, 2021 10:48 am
Great uplifting story Sean! Been married 43 years and remember that day like yesterday. The years pass so quickly, so enjoy each day and be sure to give thanks.
Leigh Amiot - August 14, 2021 11:21 am
Congratulations to the newlyweds, though they may have no idea their story is here. Lord willing, my husband and I will celebrate 35 years next month. It was a no fanfare proposal in the parking lot of a bank, he was returning me to work after lunch break. He asked about a vow renewal celebration near our 25th anniversary, and I said no, the original ones took. Marriage is sunshine, love, and music at the beginning, but the real essence of marriage reveals itself at times such as you and Jamie are traveling through now. That is what strengthens the bonds.
Karen - August 14, 2021 11:43 am
My husband and I are looking forward to 50 years of marriage in October. We have 2 children and their wonderful spouses and 5 grandchildren. We have truly been blessed. Wishing that young couple a very blessed marriage.
Cheryl - August 14, 2021 12:27 pm
Is Mother Mary still with us?
mccutchen52 - August 14, 2021 1:07 pm
Good one Sean. I would tell you my story but it would take a lot of space. 🙂
Richard Owen - August 14, 2021 1:43 pm
My wife and I will hit 53 years in October and, although my health is not the best, I am trying to stick around as long as the Lord will let me. Best wishes to the young couple. Love the Yiddish bagger. He said what i heard a lot of years ago with the “man plans, God laughs!”
Robert L Chiles - August 14, 2021 2:09 pm
46 years ago we vowed “…to be good, and sweet, and never fuss.” Good vows. I recommend them highly.
Christina - August 14, 2021 2:11 pm
The Yiddish saying is so true!
Victor S E Moubarak - August 14, 2021 2:12 pm
Wishing that young couple a long and happy life together.
Tammy S. - August 14, 2021 2:26 pm
Lauren Lopez - August 14, 2021 2:49 pm
Beautiful story, Sean!! Thank you for sharing! My husband and I have been experiencing adventures and trials together 36 years now! I am thankful for him and the love and faithfulness of our Lord!
MAM - August 14, 2021 3:04 pm
Yiddish sayings usually have truth in them. And we all know that God laughs when he throws a monkey wrench into the “well-laid” plans of men and women alike. God is in control! Believe it and you’ll be fine!
Suellen - August 14, 2021 3:29 pm
My youngest daughter and her husband weren’t planning on having kids. They were both very career driven. He’s a home builder and she’s a CPA. I remember one evening that they spent with friends with children and my son in law remarked to my daughter “this must be what hell feels like”. My daughter was having some issues and went in for some tests. The ultrasound tech said “Everything looks normal except you’ve got a baby in there.” Their lives changed big time. Now they have two little girls and are the most devoted parents. I’m going to have to remember that Yiddish saying.
Bill Harris - August 14, 2021 3:59 pm
Thank you Sean
Barbara Shealy - August 14, 2021 4:14 pm
These columns always touch me. Two to three paragraphs in, I forget everything else that is going on. Thank you, Sean, for these little escapes!
Harriet - August 14, 2021 5:00 pm
Me too Barbara. I get lost in his words for a while. It’s great.
Cynthia - August 14, 2021 5:34 pm
That was another great read! I felt like I was in line with you, buying Blue Bell Ice Cream!
Linda Moon - August 14, 2021 5:57 pm
Just married and announcing it there in a supermarket line…what could be more adorable than that? (except maybe kittens, but I digress). I remember the first time I met the spunky woman who married you. I also remember my late cat, ‘Spunky’. (Again, digression about cats ). You’ve caused me to remember a lot just in the short time it took to read and reply to this Sean of the South post. There was a marriage for me and My Guy, and it (the marriage) often makes me laugh along with pets, people, and a long life that has happened in spite of other plans that didn’t pan out!
Lyn - August 14, 2021 10:05 pm
Going on 52 years for us, we met in high school! Thanks for this, Sean, and hoping you and Jamie have a long time together no matter what comes your way.
Stacey Wallace - August 14, 2021 10:57 pm
So sweet. Love you!
Gerald - October 21, 2021 3:34 am
I enjoy all your posts Sean and enjoy the comments as well. My wife and I started school together at Paxton in first grade–no kindergarten back then (enjoyed your post about Paxton, our class had 26 graduates) and graduated together as well. We didn’t date till we were going to different colleges but have been together 57 years now. Sadly she now has Altzheimers, is bedridden, and hasn’t talked in more than a year. I am privileged to be in good health and am able to care for her at home still. It’s been a good run and I wouldn’t change it except spend more time traveling when we still could.