08 July 2011


Edna and I were married at her parents' house on 2 September, 1962.

At least I remember the date!

What has struck me in writing these memoirs is the great variability in my memories of things past.  My parents had not attended my and Susan's wedding.  "Well," I said to Sue, "they didn't attend my and Edna's wedding, either!"

Sue then showed me a photo of that wedding with both my mother and father in the picture.

Had this been in the days of Photoshop, I might have defended my position.

Well, it was a long time ago, after all.

Yes, but I remember very distinctly a lot of details of things from those days.  The adventure with Edna, Peter, and me on the Feather River was quit vivid.  I fear the reason for my selective memory is simply that self-centredness - which is not always the same as selfishness, but which is closely akin to it - that has always characterised me, and that still does so.  I am just not that interested in weddings.  That the wedding might be of deep interest to others - to my wife, for example - does not appear to have been much of a reason for me to pay attention.

But we were definitely married, and definitely on that date.

Initially it was proposed that we should be married in the Presbyterian church that, as I understand it, Edna's family were members of.  I rejected this in no uncertain terms.

Why, I wonder, should my rejection have been so absolute?  My interest in the God question did not even rise to the level of atheism.  My interest in the God question was about on a par with my interest in the legitimacy of the latest Jacobite pretender - less, perhaps, since romantic stories about Bonnie Prince Charlie had at least some human interest to me.  So why should I have objected to what I would, no doubt, have thought just a meaningless human ritual?

I do not really know, but I confess I suspect some unconscious awareness that there might be more to this marriage business than I really wanted to confront.  In any case, in the event Jim and Peggy McVey, Edna's parents, very patiently and accommodatingly, set up in their house for the wedding.  The Presbyterian minister - I think it was, though, again, my memory is vague - married us.  The reception - with my parents in attendance, I now know! - and probably my brother and sister, for all I recall - was in their basement room.

I blush at the ways in which Edna's parents, family friends, my own family, all were so kind and helpful to one - myself! - who was as completely self-centred a young lout as one could imagine.  Edna's father gave us, as a wedding present, an amount of money that, in 1962, could have been used as a down-payment on a house.  I do not think such a thought even occurred to me.  Edna and I went on a road trip, in our Volkswagen 'bug', and that was the money we used.  I do not regret that - but I wish I had had more sensitivity to his goodness and thoughtfulness to us.

I have just been struck with a question: was the 'Presbyterian minister' who married us, in fact, Edna's uncle Tom Patterson?  Edna's mother's sister Ruth and her husband Tom came from Northern Ireland to visit.  Was it for the wedding?  It may have been.

I have prayed, daily, for a long time for Tom and Ruth Patterson - now for their souls, for Tom is dead, and Ruth may be - for I blush, again, to recall my dealings with him when he visited.  I had pushed onto him a book as being a great and wonderful revelation of mysteries.  Tom read it - itself an act of charity to a young know-it-all - and told me, clearly with some desire to try to help me, that he found it shallow.  The book was, in fact, one which made a big noise in its day.  It presents a deeply false Gospel - but very definitely a Gospel.  The book was Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land".  It is consciously a Gospel, whose Christ is a man and whose Sacrament is human sexuality.  No doubt it was, in great part, the latter that attracted me.  Yet I am deeply certain that it was the Gospel image itself that was the reason I was excited.  Tom Patterson may have sensed this.  Alas, he was not in a position to offer me the true gold to replace this false coin, but it moves me to think that when I have seen something of Christ - even in a terribly distorted medium such as Heinlein's free love - I have wanted something - something that was beyond my reach, yet something that I knew was desirable.

Edna and I moved into a flat in Berkeley near the University, and I started my junior year - third year of a four-year undergraduate course in a US University - in astronomy.  Edna was working, I believe, as a 'temp' for Kelly Girl.

In November Edna became pregnant.

1 comment:

John Thayer Jensen said...

From Edna:

My parent were not members of any church at the time we were married - much to my mother's chagrin. When we arrived in San Francisco, my parents dutifully joined the only Presbyterian church in the Haight-Ashbury district, the location of our first apartment in the U.S. We attended faithfully - I walked to Sunday school every Sunday - my father was an elder. But, by the time I was about 8 or 9, my father had discovered that the minister was using church funds for personal use - or at least, this is what he believed. He immediately forbid both my mother and me from attending this church - and, in fact, he wanted no part of any church in the U.S. because he believed they might all be corrupt. He subsequently became more active in Masonic organizations which he had originally joined in the old country as a young man. My mother joined Eastern Star, and I joined Job's Daughters. But, I remember as a young child, I still had a yearning to go to church. I went a few times to a Christian Science church close and an Episcopal church in the neighborhood. My father was furious that I had gone to the Episcopal church because he discovered it was a "high Episcopal" church which meant they swung incense up the aisle - this was too similar to the Catholic Church for him!

We were, in fact, married by an Episcopal minister (but from a "low Episcopal church") who my father knew from the Masonic organization. I to this day wonder why my parents never resisted our marriage - they never cautioned me about marrying too young or about marrying someone so different, e.g. cut-off shorts, bare feet, Camel-smoking, or about finishing my education. I wish I had asked them before they died. Very strange!