To Have And To Hold
Nadia was my everything. I stayed at my parents home for the first two weeks and mum pampered me. She did all the cooking, all I had to do was sleep, breastfeed and get used to motherhood. I had friends and family visit us over that time and my bedroom soon looked like a florist! Ken was besotted and displayed more love to both me and Nadia. She was so small, weighed six pounds four and a half ounces at birth which was a perfect little new born size.
I moved into my new place after a few weeks passed, and Ken finally moved in also. We were finally cohabitating as a cute little family and I was more than happy.
Kens son Daniel visited every other weekend and in the summer we all went to see Ken play his beloved sport of cricket if the weather wasn’t to bad. There was a day that we drove to take Daniel home and as we journeyed back Ken & I got into a conversation about life, our wants and desires, what we expected out of our relationship. I loved speaking about the future, it all seemed like a fairy tale, me, Ken & Nadia and no doubt a couple more children. As a young teenager, I always imagined having five children because I felt I wanted to form a happy bond like my siblings and I finally had once I grew up; but my children would be different, I would make sure they bonded properly and played together nicely from an very early age and have them close in age so one would not be spoilt over the others or teased and left out as I was. Ken wanted to get a degree in his field of work and eventually get a promotion. I wanted to return back to work as a Chef once Nadia was walking and talking. He also spoke of his parents looking forward to retirement in the West Indies but there one desire was to see him settled down. They were really happy that we had become our own little family and seemed to be getting on quite well. His parents loved me too, we got on rather well and Ken and I visited them often as well as spending time at his sister and brothers respected homes, they were all married. Ken mentioned that his parents expected the same for him and as we had Nadia he didn’t want to be anywhere else with anyone else but me.
‘So Maria look you know how I feel about you and I want to make this more solid especially to make my parents rested before they leave. I know your mum has also been making a lot of hints also about us getting married, so how about it… do you want to put up with me for a lifetime and get married?’ What did I know at nineteen about proposals? I knew there should be some magical experience surrounded by romance, flowers and the man down on one knee, but this was Ken; the man that took my breath away and had my legs like jelly for months, the father of my first beloved child. How could I possibly say no. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I sat in the car speechless, literally. I said yes but it was a yes with disbelief that I heard correct; did he really ask me to marry him? I searched his face for clues trying to read his emotion, was this a serious talk, real talk, just a chat talk, talking thoughts or was he actually asking me…ME! Who would want to marry me? Was he having me on? Immediately I felt unworthy. Ken felt and saw the doubt in me too, he knew I struggled with self-confidence at times when it came to relationships due to my past. Then I heard his firm voice that resonated down into my soul which took the fear and disbelief away ‘I love you Maria, will you marry me? ‘a smile broke out of my face and I felt my eyes fill with water ‘Yes, a hundred times yes, off course I’ll marry you, I love you so much.’ Ken reached over to his glove compartment and took out a small box, he opened it and there it was, the most beautiful gold diamond cut ring with a single diamond in the centre. He planned this, he brought a ring with intentions to propose, he meant it. Why would he spend money and go through so much trouble had he not wanted to do this? It was no act, this right here, right now was happening. One of my memories in life that will never fade. Ken placed the ring on my finger and kissed me gently but passionately.
Our parents were most excited at our news and marvelled at my ring. My mum looked somewhat relieved and I’m sure it was the fact that I would no longer be a young lady with a child out of marriage, although she loved Ken, deep down she did not like our lifestyle (not that she was a church goer) but she was set in old school ways. Kens parents were staunch Christians and attended church every week without fail, so they too were relieved and pleased. The wedding was set for later that same year to make sure Kens parents would still be around. I spoke to the vicar of mums local church which happened to be the same church my sister Cam and also my brother Teddy got married in, he was happy to do our ceremony.
What were we doing? I relied on Cam and mum to put all things, Ken was in charge of sorting out the reception… music and drinks. Our parents paid for the hall, there was no need for caterers back in those days, the best cooks out of our family and friends were designated a dish to cook. Just the basics in everything, no fancy table pieces just a nicely decorated top table and gift savers on each table setting which was normally gift-wrapped sweet almonds was needed.
My cousin Shantel was to be my chief bridesmaid and my niece Cams daughter a bridesmaid, Kens son Daniel was our pageboy and my two little cousins who were twin girls were to be my flower girls. Mum and Cam went with me to a bridal boutique to try on some dresses to see what complimented me. The dress we all liked had a price tag that made us hold our breath! We left smiling knowing that mum was going to make my dress and she would add the gemstones and pearls to the dress which was lacking in the dress I tried on. Cams job was to make the bridesmaids dresses. I was such a lucky girl to have two seamstresses in my family.
Over the months that followed we fell into a nice routine and grew in our parenting, loving each moment with Nadia and filled with happiness at her growth and little milestones expected at her age.
My paternal grandfather passed away. Did I feel sad? Somewhat I guess, after all he was still my granddad, but news of his passing brought back visual memories of his indecent kiss and the fear I felt towards him afterwards. Questions yet again arose, why? Why would he do such a wicked thing and abuse the love I had for him? There was an avalanche of stories that fell out the closet after he died and the true revelation of the life he lived was exposed. My poor grandmother was such a sweet woman and to think that she lived in a kind of bondage under the umbrella of her marriage made me sad. Granddad had done many sexually indecent acts as a spiritualist minister by ‘anointing women’s bodies with oils!’ well you may think what’s wrong with that? It was the kind of anointing that was the problem.
Grandma had never travelled on a plane in her life and my dad sent for her to come for my wedding. She was to come for three months to give her a well needed break and for us to shower her with love. Everyone was excited about her pending arrival; she was loved dearly by all.
She arrived in time for Nadias Christening, which was a very small occasion, mostly because I’ve never believed in big parties for such a holy event. The church was the same that would be used for our wedding and afterwards we came back to my parents home for refreshments.
Two months after the Christening, it was to be my special day. The day I waited patiently for. I was to become Kens wife. I was not just a ‘baby mother’ just a girlfriend or fiancé, I was about to have status. I knew of quite a few school friends that had babies but were just in a boyfriend girlfriend relationship living separately, more often the girl still living at her parents’ house.
The night before our big day, Ken left to be with his mates, and I stayed at mums. Bernell and Toni came over and we had a girlie night helping Cam and mum hand sew on the last of the diamantes & pearls to the bodice of my bridal gown The girls got ready to leave so I could settle down to sleep as I had a huge day ahead. But how could I sleep, I was so anxious. I couldn’t think, was everything ok? And then a frightful though came, what if everyone forgot and didn’t turn up! Cam laughed and said we will still have a big party and eat all the food… I knew she was being funny, but the butterflies prevented me from laughing. Mum ushered me out the room and told me everything would be just fine and to stop worrying and get to sleep and to remember how happy I shall be. Now that made me smile. No sooner than my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.
My eyes opened with the burst of light through the curtain, it took me a few seconds to recollect my thoughts and realise that the day was the ninth of September, and the biggest grin lit my face and I bounced out of bed. Cam stayed over too and I ran in her room shaking her awake giggling. She turned and smiled as she saw my excitement and said, ‘let the day begin.’
Bernell had taken Nadia with her the night before and Ken was with his best man. It was decided by us both that we would not call each other under any circumstances unless however there was an emergency with Nadia.
First stop was the hairdresser, and as I feared, things started to go wrong. I stood at a locked door, I mean shutters down kinda locked and I began to panic. Where was Donavon? We spoke about this day, the time I would come, the style I would have, oh and tat was another thing; I forgot the tiara at home. He had told me to bring it along so he could style my hair around it. Oh well what could I do. I just had to wait; I mean how late could he be to open up??? My appointment was booked for 8.30am and here was Donavon strolling towards me at 9.15am with a smile that told me he had no clue he was late.
‘Hi morning darling, how yuh going, have you been waiting long? I tried to breathe in a less frustrated rhythm as I answered, ‘Don we agreed 8.30 remember? It’s my wedding day and I’ve been a nervous wreck waiting for you.’ ‘Oh Shit!! Oh Gosssh, Maria I sorry eh, come come farst leh we do dis quick, nah worry yuhself, girl I clean forget.’ Dons Grenadian accent was singing through with his excitement. I smiled as we were now on the same page and he knew my schedule. Well a bride was meant to be late right!?
I called my brother Curtis to pick me up to save time on the train. He drove just over the speed limits to get me to mums to dress. I had no complaints with his crazy driving at all.
Mum stopped me in my tracks as I raced through the front door, both hands on my arms and she told me to stop and breathe, just breathe. I took a couple of deep breaths in and exhaled. There, calm. We went upstairs and I showered. It was refreshing feeling the water cooling my skin, I was relaxed somewhat once more. I sat on the stool for mum to fix my hair with the tiara and I did my makeup myself, I didn’t want or need a lot. The dress was on, I turned and looked in the mirror and all I saw was a black fairy-tale princess. Mums eyes was springing water and I had to look away as I felt mines about to, but my makeup!
Kens brother in law Elijah was my driver as he had a Seven Series BMW but where was he? I was running really late now, and the panic started to creep back into my nerves. Kens sister Stella came running in panting saying Elijah was stressed that the car needed washing… washing, now?! What the heck was really going on, I couldn’t wait for a car to be washed and then fluffing around trying to fit its ribbon. No no… ‘Curtis I beg you, use your car it’s 1.35 and the wedding should’ve started 5 minutes ago! Stella wait here for Elijah and meet us at the church.’ Dad and I went in Curtis’s car and mum drove her car with the bridesmaids. As we turned into the church gate, Curtis in his fluster, crashed into the gate pole. No damage was done but it was a scene from a ‘Carry On’ film! Hilarious. The Vicar was outside waiting, we apologised, and he hurried us into the reception area where we composed ourselves and my dressed was smoothed out.
The organs started playing and the doors opened. There before me was the longest aisle, each bench of seats was decorated with posies of flowers and as I looked to the rows of seats there was hardly anyone there. I choked back tears thinking people really did forget and didn’t come. I walked slowly down the aisle behind the flower girls, Daniel and the bridesmaids, which felt like a long walk of shame. I smiled the tears away as the guests took pictures as they gasped and smiled as I walked past them. I wanted to run but I fixed my gaze on Ken who looked the most handsome he has ever been and, in my mind, all I could think of was how empty the church looked, there would hardly be any wedding presents and all the food will go to waste. This day was going from bad to worse.
My mind was so preoccupied with these thoughts that the words of the vicar flew over my head like a soft breeze, but I do remember the vicars voice raised as he proclaimed ‘As you have exchanged vows before God and witnesses, by the giving and receiving of rings, I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride.’ Ken raised my veil and tenderly kissed my lips and I felt I melted like I did the very first time he kissed me outside Panamas night club. Everyone cheered, the sound made me look towards the guests and I couldn’t believe my eyes, the church was packed! I chuckled inside and the relief was immeasurable. Typical… black people and time keeping!
There was a short musical interlude as we signed the register and after the vicar said a few words we turned to leave as Mr & Mrs Sajor.
My fake smile I had walking into church hiding tears was replaced by a huge grin, all teeth shining, holding Kens hand and feeling like his queen. The church had a beautiful garden where we took all our photos. Elijah was waiting by the front of the church with the shiniest ribband car that looked spectacular. Inside there was a small pale with a bottle of champagne on ice and two champagne glasses. We escaped the noise of voices, the greetings the extensive smiling, I honestly thought my face would stick! I didn’t realise how much being a bride had you as the centre of attention and this was just the beginning.
The speeches were heartfelt, and my dad had a few dry jokes that everybody seemed to laugh at. Ken’s uncle Sam’s first words were to shout out ‘Who Made The Saltfish, it was absolutely amazing?’ my uncle had made it and it truly was delicious. In fact all the food was amazing and there was enough for everyone and more.
After we cut the cake and took more pictures the tables were cleared, and a dance floor was made visible. Ken and I had our first dance, then everyone joined in. The rest of the night was simply wonderful. Good music and lots of drinks, Ken did so well sorting that out with his brothers and his bonified group of friends.
The reception had finished at 11pm and Kens best man and friend from school days Mark suggested an after party back at our flat, and so a group of friends and family gathered back at ours and partied until a little after 3am. I had conked out by then I was totally exhausted. What seemed to start off as a disastrous day soon overturned into a glorious one. Everyone eventually left and Ken threw himself on the bed next to me and we looked into each other’s eyes, we both smiled in silent agreement, no wedding night specials tonight! We fell asleep cuddled up close and slept sound into the next day.
I awoke first and the whole world felt brand new. I was new, yesterday I was Maria Skinner and today I awoke as Maria Sajor. I woke up Ken with breakfast in bed, I couldn’t wait to go pick up Nadia and head to my parents to open all our gifts as I saw we had loads.
Ken had other ideas, he set the breakfast aside and reached over and caressed my body from my neck down to my toes, my mind slowed down as I became intoxicated by his touch. Our breathing escalated into a deepness that you eventually could no longer hear. There was silence, the only thing I heard was the friction of the silk sheets. I knew I was alive by the surrender of my body that danced in according to his.
Let the music play.